Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Bethany Bullet-February 4, 2009

“Thy Will be done.”
On Sunday, Pastor Kritzer said that, “It was my desire that the Steelers win the Super Bowl! It was God’s will that I hallow His name regardless of the outcome of the game and that should Warner and the Cardinal receiving core get hot, I not loose my cool.” Now some would say that it must have been God’s will that his team win, after all they won. Those who say so would fail to understand, however, that God does not only possess an inordinate will (an absolute will) but an ordinate will (one that works through means) as well. So more than likely the winning team would be the one that had the best defense and clock management, of course some will say the one that got the calls to go there way.

God’s inordinate will was exercised at creation. There weren’t any “no’s” during creation. Light did not say, “I’ll shine when I get around to it!” The earth did not reply, “Hold your horses, so to speak, animals will spring forth sometime next week.” God commanded and it happened. That inordinate will of God will be at work on judgment day. Every knee (not just some) will bow. Every tongue (not just those who’ve done so previously) will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. The absolute will of God was at work in the ministry and life of Jesus in those events we call miracles. Wind and wave did not question nor complain. They became still. Fish and loaves did not mumble but multiplied. Demons did not rear their heads and corpses did not play dead. They did as Christ willed; they left the places they had been.

God, however, has chosen to exercise His will in our daily lives through the created order and in our spiritual lives through word and sacrament. This is known as the ordinate will of God. True His will is that all people believe and come to the knowledge of the truth but He does not simply hardwire us for faith. The Gospel is not directly downloaded into hearts and minds irresistibly. He offers, invites, calls to faith and in such a manner as to be resistible. Now when faith springs to life He is the source, cause, and agent, yet not because He has willed so inordinately – This is a topic for a different section of the catechism we’ll talk about some other time. For now, let’s get back to understanding the will of God.

To understand this petition concerning God’s will—it is essential that we remember the first two petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. This will not only help us to pray this petition but to understand what it is we are praying for.

It is God’s will that His name be hallowed! The second commandment, as well as the first petition in the Lord’s Prayer addresses this truth. It is certainly true that God’s will is that His name be hallowed and is most centered on those who call him, Father. Yet, we God’s children fail to hallow His name as commanded. We hit our thumb with the proverbial hammer and His name is invoked in a way that would make grandma blush and our Father weep. We miss a putt, get a ticket, see the 401k slip further away and far too often it is not praises of His holy name that we cry out. Clearly it is God’s will that we hallow His name, He has so commanded, yet God does not control nor coerce our response to His command. He does not always exercise His will in an irresistible manner.

In fact, the will of God and Christian freedom are theological realities that are best understood together. Some view God’s will like a major metropolitan city in a foreign country in which you are on vacation. The signs of course are in a language you cannot read, the local public transportation system is one you don’t have mastery over. You have a place to be in a few minutes and all you possess is the general map from the local tourist information bureau. It tells you about the cities architect, its beauty and the joy of its residents. However, it provides only a few street names and several landmarks. The only way to know for sure if you’re going the right way is experience. Do the streets appear to correspond with the map? Are the landmarks headed toward or away from your intended destination? This is how some people view the will of God: Always a mystery, always difficult, always a fight, never sure if you are really where you ought to be.

There is a better picture. As we understand the inordinate and ordinate will of God, we can imagine a playground. It is surrounded by a fence. Outside the fence is a flood control channel, a city street, a pile of stones and all kinds of windows. These are off-limits. Now mind you, this fence is not impenetrable, unbreakable, nor unlikable. It is in place to keep the children safe but it is not impossible for them to get in trouble. Inside this fence are a swing, a slide, a handball wall, basketball court, and a jungle gym. You are free to play, free to choose, and free to enjoy & live within the will of the playground designer.

Nowhere was this prayer more fervently prayed and lived out than when Jesus, after He taught it to His disciples, prayed it Himself. In the garden He prayed, “Thy will be done.” Then instead of sitting back and waiting for God’s will to happen, He got up and walked to the cross so that through the means of His suffering and death God’s will to forgive, redeem, and restore us for our failure to comply with His will would be accomplished.

When we pray, God’s will be done, we are praying that we recognize that miracles are possible and that God in His authority can do anything He wills. “Yet, we are also praying that God’s will is done among and through us as He breaks and hinders every plan of the devil, of the world, and of our own sinful nature that would keep us from hallowing His name or keep His kingdom from coming.” –Luther’s Small Catechism


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