“It’s God’s will.”
I have said it. If you are a Christian, probably you have said it. And I have said it, and other people have said it, about a multitude of things. That new job? God’s will! A big move? God’s will! Choosing Option A over Option B? Well, I was praying you would choose Option A, because that is clearly God’s will! Phew.
And it is true that there are certain things that are always God’s will: that we love Him, and that we love others, and that we come to Christ for our salvation. It is also true that God speaks to those who follow Him, and that He makes His desires for them known. So I’m not interested in questioning people who say they’ve discerned God’s will in their lives. That isn’t something I can possibly know.
Rather, I’ve been thinking of how easy it is for me to say those sorts of things – how tempting it is for me to talk about God as though I always know what He is thinking and what His plans are, even when His plans are not my plans, and His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Because of that, I’ve snagged myself lately on Jeremiah 23:25-26:
I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?
God’s outrage is palpable. As it should be: false prophets are leading the Israelites astray and claiming to speak for the Lord when they are in reality doing no such thing. God sees the deception clearly and lashes out with anger as a result. But the problem here is not merely that false prophets are misleading the Israelites; the problem as God sees it is also that they are disguising “the delusions of their own mind” as God’s word. They are coloring God’s message with their own agendas, thoughts, and desires. They are using God to authenticate their own words and messages, rather than the opposite.
And that is the part of the verse that catches me and gives me pause. How often have I said “It’s God’s will” without pausing to think about the weight of those words? How often have I claimed to know what God wants without so much as praying in advance? How often have I spoken on His behalf without thinking clearly about what it means to speak on His behalf? Have I ever colored God’s words with the delusions of my own mind?
This verse reminds me that the temptation is always there – that there will always be a chance I might use God’s words to lend myself credibility, rather than use my life and my words to lend God credibility. Sometimes, the simple intimacy of the relationship I have with God through Christ means that I forget sometimes how holy God is, what it means to be a mouthpiece for the divine.
Let me prayer be then that I always pause before I speak in God’s name – pause enough to breathe and pray, and remember that my words about God are meant to serve Him, and not me.
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