Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 116; 147:12-20, 2 Samuel 11:1-27, Acts 19:11-20, Mark 9:2-13
While we are one body, Christians disagree on many subjects. One of the more controversial topics is the nature of God’s will. Over the centuries the finer points of this argument have divided the church many times. Some of us believe God directly controls the universe down to its subatomic components. Others believe God exerts minimal influence over the creation. Most of us land somewhere in the middle, influenced by – but often uninformed on the specifics of – whatever denomination (or non-denomination) we belong to.
In the United States few things highlight the arguments about God’s will – as well as people’s inconsistencies in embracing and defending those arguments – like the election of a president. When we like the person who is elected, it’s God’s will. When we don’t like the person, it’s a subversion of God’s will. And some of us accept either (or neither) result as God’s will.
Whichever camp we call home, we ought to agree on one thing: just because someone is chosen by God doesn’t mean they will be righteous in all they do.
King David had everything he could have wanted, but when he saw Bathsheba, the wife of his soldier Uriah, he decided he wanted her too. When David impregnated her while Uriah was away at war, he conspired first to trick Uriah into sleeping with her so the solider might believe the child was his own, then to maneuver Uriah into a vulnerable position in battle so he would be killed.
David was anointed by God. David was appointed King of Israel. David was appalling in his behavior.
The evil he did to Uriah was not God’s will – to the contrary, it angered God. Not only did Uriah die, but so did many other soldiers whom David either didn’t consider or didn’t mind sacrificing (and given his considerable strategic skills, it was probably the latter).
Great power amplifies both our virtues and flaws. Accepting a monarch, president, or other leader does not mean accepting and defending everything they do. God’s will may be inscrutable, but Christ’s teachings will always help us find the way.
For thoughts on today’s reading from Acts, see Just One Bite.
Comfort: God does not will evil.
Prayer: I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope. (Psalm 130:5)
Discussion: What do you think of when you hear the phrase “God’s will?”
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