Thursday, February 13, 2014

God's Kingdom vs. Our Perception of It


Have you ever been trying to serve God in someway and found yourself angry or disappointed because your plans failed? Or, to put it another way, have you ever been trying to serve God and God seemed to prevent you?

I’m sure we have all encountered that, because, I would argue, it is part of the necessary process of becoming who God wants us to be. Let me try to explain.

Many of us have probably encountered this pattern:

You have a plan to serve God.
Something thwarts that plan.
You feel frustrated and wonder why God didn’t honor what you were trying to do for him.

Has this happened to you? It does to me daily.

Let’s take a closer look at the situation.

Since the situation implies that we are not looking at ourselves objectively, all we can ever do is bring our current state before God. The red-flag that should make us stop and reflect in these situations are our unhealthy emotions, such as anger, anxiety, discouragement, ect. When you are experiencing unhealthy emotions, put yourself in alert mode, something is amiss in your heart.

Before I continue further, one thing should be established. God is sovereign. If we take the “all” in Romans 8:28 to actually mean “everything that happens” (I believe this is true), we have to believe that everything that happens is part of God’s sovereign will for our good.

That being said, what then is happening in these situations is that our will is confronting God’s providence. Even though we may have been trying to serve God, what we perceived to be God’s kingdom plan was confronted by God’s actual kingdom plan.

How to we know what God’s kingdom plan is? God’s will for us always involves meeting our actual circumstances in a way that follows God’s commandments. If we are having a difficult time doing that, we need to check our hearts and adjust our thinking.

For example, let’s say a pastor has plans to spend six hours of his Monday to preparing next Sunday’s sermon for his congregation. He is doing this to his knowledge to serve God by ministering to his congregation. Let’s then say that a situation has arisen with his children that demands his immediate attention, taking him away from his studies. He feels frustration. This was the only time he had all week to complete this. What may be happening is that God’s actual kingdom will is confronting what he thought God’s kingdom will is. God’s will for that day may be for him to minister to his children. Re-aligning himself will take giving up his idols of his will, repenting, and praying to align himself with God’s will.

A biblical example: Jesus was telling his disciples that he must “suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mat. 16:21). Peter argued with Jesus and was rebuked with the famous line, “Get behind me Satan” (v.23). Peter had good intensions. He didn’t think this this should happen to his Messiah. This wasn’t in his perception of God’s will. God’s actual kingdom, however, was confronting Peter’s idea of the kingdom.

Serving God is a constant process of understanding and aligning ourselves with God’s actual will as it is manifests itself in our lives.

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