Is Your Life Being Shaped by the Will of God?
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus....
As a pastor, I have often had people come to talk with me about finding God's will for their lives. Usually, they are thinking in very specific terms: Does God want me to take this job? Is it God's will for me to marry this person? While it's certainly right to seek God's will for such particulars, we should also learn how to have our whole life shaped by God's will. The will of God can tell us who we are, why we are alive, and how our lives are part of God's grand story.
As he began the letter we know as Ephesians, Paul identified himself as "an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God" (1:1). As I explained in last Friday's reflection, an apostle was a person who was sent by someone in authority for a certain reason. Paul had been sent by God to share the gospel with Gentiles and to plant churches of new believers. To underscore the fact that he was an apostle, not by his own choosing, but by God's choosing, Paul adds, "by the will of God."
Yet, Paul did not see God's will in narrow terms as having to do simply with his particular calling. In fact, by referring to God's will, Paul connects his life with God's larger purposes for the cosmos. The first chapter of Ephesians speaks of God's will three other times, besides verse 1. God predestined us to be his children "in accordance with his pleasure and will" (1:5). He "made known to us the mystery of his will," which is to unite all things in Christ (1:9-10). God also "works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will" (1:11).
Thus, the question of God's will for my life should be seen in light of God's will for the cosmos. If God wills to bring all things together in Christ, then this should transform my life, my sense of who I am and why I am here. We'll explore this further as we get into Ephesians. For now, let me encourage you to consider how God's will shapes your life, not only in terms of specific paths you have taken, but also in terms of how you live each day and how you understand your life's purpose.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In what ways is your life shaped by the will of God? How do you see your life in relation to what God is doing in the world?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for caring about me. Thank you for giving my life purpose and direction. Thank you for helping me to understand your will for my life.
Yet, as I reflect on the first chapter of Ephesians, I am struck by the fact that your will is much bigger than I sometimes assume. And your will for my life isn't just about me, but about your will for all creation. Help me, dear Lord, to see myself and live my life in light of your will for all things. May I be caught up in your amazing work in the whole cosmos. Amen.