Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Secret to a Good and Pleasing Life

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Let’s look at this verse in reverse. Most of us would say that we would enjoy a life that is good and pleasing. What does a good and pleasing life look like? It can’t mean that everything will go our way. That’s not possible. Maybe a good and pleasing life is one where we can roll with the punches and keep things in perspective. Nothing is the end of the world, expect for, well, the end of the world, and God’s in control of that.

The pathway to this kind of life is learning to know God’s will for us, which is perfect. When I was in Bible college, every student was obsessed with two questions: What is God’s will for my life? And, Who is God’s will for my life? I completed four years and didn’t have a very clear picture of either. It was probably for the best.

If God had told me that His will for me was to go to a church that would face tremendous turmoil within the first 18 months that would eventually lead to the removal of the senior pastor, I might have stayed in the hotel industry. If God had told me that He had a beautiful bride waiting for me in California, but that she wouldn’t be mine for another 13 years, I seriously would have questioned how much God actually loved me.

God’s will is perfect, but it is so out of line with our expectations that we really can only see its perfection in hindsight. Looking forward, God’s will is wrought with much frustration and questioning. We struggle from attempting to press God into the mold of our expectations. The truth of God’s will is that we really don’t have a clue about it and it seldom resembles what we expect. Yet, God’s will is perfect.

To find God’s perfect will, we have to change our thinking. That’s not to say we must succumb to the power of positive thinking. That’s all good and well, but some of us just aren’t that happy all of the time. Changing our thinking is not reciting platitudes or visualizing success. Changed thinking comes from transformation.

God wants to transform us into who He created for us to be. The major obstacle to this transformation is the world around us. The culture pressures us to dress a certain way, to act a certain way, to live a certain way, and to drive a certain thing. Pursuing the trappings of success often leaves us bankrupt in the transformation department. There’s nothing wrong with stuff. The problem lies in our desire for stuff.

Good marketing causes us to live in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction. It’s the ad man’s job. If he doesn’t do his job, then he doesn’t get what he wants: our money.

Unless we have more stuff that’s newer and shinier, then our stuff is only getting older and duller. But, it’s not just the stuff. It’s who else owns the stuff. The “newer and shinier” crowd doesn’t tend to hang with the “older and duller” crowd. But, working harder to fit in with the crowd distracts us from what’s perfect for our lives: God’s individual will for us.

When was the last time that you stepped out of the norm to do something ridiculous for God? While it would be easy to rail against the culture of the world, we also must resist the culture of the church. God did not design you to look the same and act the same as every other believer. God isn’t manufacturing widgets.

He is uniquely crafting our souls and minds to do exactly what He created us to do. As we put our energy into turning our focus to God, He will transform us into who He desires for us to be. Then, we will find the good and pleasing life that we’ve longed for.

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