Colossians 1:1 – 2 (NKJV) 1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father £and the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are the moments when reading the Bible some small phrase or scripture has had the effect of messing up much of my carefully crafted life. Something that may be to another inconsequential has at times steered me from the safety of the known and into a brand new place and experience with God. I wish I could say it was a comfortable place but most often it leads me to ask questions that cause changes of significance in my relationship with God.
This is one of those scriptures. At first glance, and maybe even second glance, or even third it might not be evident. What has caused me to question so much of what I am doing in life is Paul’s listing his qualifications to be an apostle of Jesus Christ “by the will of God.” This phrase in which he lays out to those who read why he is an apostle has caused me to question just about everything I’m doing and ask the hard question. Am I doing what I do because it’s the will of God or am I expecting God to agree with my will and call it His?
I often wonder if Paul would have volunteered for the life he led if he knew beforehand what being a disciple would require. He spent most of his adult life in jail. He was beaten and chased from many cities. He was shipwrecked, scorned, and the threats to his life were constant; yet, even though he never met Jesus face to face, his writings are the bedrock of our New Testament understanding of the message of grace.
It is a mistake to see the great accomplishments of people and not consider the story of how they got there. I believe that Paul is saying something very important when he establishes his apostleship by the will of God. He is making a declaration that because of following God’s will he has become the man that he is. That even means the bad stuff.
My wife and I recently had a decision to make in our family. As with most important decisions we sat and weighed the pros and cons. In this matter the cons list was quite a bit ahead of the pros, yet we struggled for weeks about what was right. Finally we sat down and made our decision. In the end, however, there was one positive that outweighed all of the negatives. We both felt it was God’s will for us to move forward and not look backward.
That brings me to my point. God’s will and our will are not synonymous. How many times do we talk our way out of great moments in our lives? Times when our families, relationships, health and even finances could be divinely blessed but aren’t because God’s will doesn’t fit into our own and we chose to follow our path.
Paul’s acceptance of his place in life because of being a follower of God’s will is a sobering challenge to me. It’s the type of challenge that has me examining my life through a brand new set of lenses. If I am to become something good because of His will, then as a disciple of Christ I must follow His will.
His will isn’t always the easy road that the hot new preacher is proclaiming. We are told that if we will just do a few easy things then all of this favor is going to land in our laps. Sometimes God does bring the good things, but like Paul, sometimes the road just isn’t that easy. It’s at those times that I want to be able to say I am here by the will of God.
There is a peace in that. It’s a peace that if I am in God’s will then He knows the end from the beginning. I might be shipwrecked at the moment but God has something for me to learn if I can look up.
My wife told me some time ago that she finds herself asking this question when faced with deciphering God’s will… “Does this fit the character of the Christ that I know?” I believe that is our greatest challenge today. Getting to really know who God is and how He thinks and what He’s passionate about is the key to walking in His will. Whether through the valley of the shadow of death or standing on mountain highs we must know Him.
Today I pray that a supernatural desire would build in us all to know God. It may require tearing down some things that we have held as fact and solidifying others to be deep convictions. When we know the character of God, the ability for others to bend us to things that may sound like Him but are not lessens and staying in the place of walking out His will deepens.