Last week I pointed us to 1 Samuel 8 where Israel demands a king and get their way…see God’s Will and Ours (Pt. 1). One of the things the story helps remind us of is that sometimes God grants us our will even though it is not the will of God. That’s an important reminder as we make decisions both as individually and corporately as a church. We make choices but those choices are not necessarily the will of God. Sometimes God accommodates those choices and is still able to accomplish his purposes but other times, those choices come with terrible consequences as it did for Israel.
This raises an interesting question of how do we discern the will of God when we are faced with choices. At the start, recognize that these are not choices where we have a clear “thus saith the Lord” from scripture. These are choices that involve discernment such as the sort of friendships we pursue as individuals or as a church, having to decide what to do with an open trust fund willed to the church by a former member.
It almost goes without saying that much prayer and wisdom is needed to make such decisions. However, I have come to the conclusion that there are at least two other factors that must be sought as we make decisions: a mission-centered understanding of scripture and the wisdom of others.
Mission-Centered Understanding of Scripture. When we make choices, almost always we can resort to cheap proof-texting of scripture to justify our will as God’s will. Foolishness! What we need is a robust understanding of God’s mission so that we read scripture through the lens of God’s missions which pinnacles in the life of Jesus Christ. God is in the business of redeeming us to be participants in his mission as followers of Jesus. So a choice for the will of God must be a choice that will bring us to a greater participation in God’s mission.
Wisdom of Others. Another way to ensure that our decisions move us towards God’s mission is to seek the wisdom of others mission-minded people. These are people who will take the time to listen to the decisions we are facing. These people will not only help us process through the options and potential consequences but also help us see the issue in the larger picture of God’s mission. Such people may be our elders, a minister, or some friends. For a church and church leadership, this might involve seeking an outside resource person(s) to come in and do some consultation. Just because congregations are autonomous does not mean that outside resources should never be sought.
I hope this is helpful advise in making decisions. At the end of the day, the choice is still ours to make. So may God grant us the wisdom and understanding to make choices that join him in his mission.