“If anyone is willing to do His will he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.” (John 7:17-18)
“You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:14-16)
A while back a brother in my men’s community said every morning as he wakes up, he has a choice to make. He had to, with at least 51% of his will, decide that day to walk with Jesus and anything less than that would not serve him well, nor glorify God. The more I thought about this, and the group discussed it, the more I came to embrace what the brother had to say.
God is the One who breathes life into us, calls us to His divine plan, and then empowers us to accomplish all through His Spirit alive in us. It is He through whom we come to love others and ourselves, and it is He who is glorified most by His love spilling out through us, into the people and the world around us. Funny thing about love, though. Love always demands choice. God could have created us without a choice to follow Him or do His will, but then we would be robots and not children. As Paul says, we could do everything right and well yet without love it would amount to “nothing.” He is the omnipotent and sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords, yet without at least 51% of our “soul” saying “Amen” this partnership is going nowhere fast.
That demand of love to carry choice with it can be viewed one of two ways: we can either see it as a really confusing issue, or, we can understand we have a God who loves us so much He is willing to step back and allow us to make those critical choices love demands, mistakes included. Jesus said, “The Son of Man has not come to be served, but to serve” (Matt. 20), and He meant it. He will not make our choices for us, rather He will give us options and the power to make the right choices. He woos and beckons, but the choice is in the end fully up to us. He wants us to make good choices because He desires to be pleased with us and be glorified in our deeds.
As the verse from John 7 above says if we “will to do His will,” then we will discern whether what we hear is from God or not. In Hebrews 5, the Writer is speaking rather impatiently of a group he calls “babes” who should have matured. He asks why they must keep on going over the elementary lessons of repentance from dead works and faith towards God. The problem with babes, if never disciplined properly in life to understand there are real choices with real consequences, is they never mature to hear, accept, or walk in wisdom in their lives. I believe God’s frustration with those is akin to the Writer’s.
Hebrews goes on to reveal the solution to breaking free from infancy and moving on to maturity, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Going back to John 7, those who will to do His will [through that daily minimum of 51%] and practice what they have learned will know whether teachings are from God or not [senses trained to discern good and evil].
The verse from John 15 above says precisely the same thing. When Jesus walked this earth, He spoke and taught in two different ways depending on His crowd. There were those who took a path that was “broad,” while others took the one that was “narrow.” In the first camp He put those whom He called “slaves who did not know what their Master was doing,” and in the other those He called “friends.” In other passages He said He spoke to the slaves in parables, but in both those passages and in John 15, He says to the ones He called friend He would speak plainly so they would understand.
What differentiated the two camps was not complicated. In fact, it was one simple rule: Jesus’ friends were those who kept His commands. Who decides to keep Jesus’ commands, for if He was Master over both camps it obviously was not His decision? No, it was those who, by 51%+ of their will, made the conscious choice to actually follow Him into doing what He did, not just those wanting to say amen to a good sermon.
I will close with one of my favorite passages written by my favorite OT prophet, “The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning—He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple…and I was not disobedient, nor did I turn back” (Isa. 50). It is the Lord that awakens us every morning, training up the mouths and ears of disciples, but unless at least 51% of our will wills to do His will, we will miss it. He beckons, but we must answer. He calls, but we must hear. He has prepared those good works we were created for, but we must choose to walk in them. He has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, but we must receive and act upon it.
A very successful and wise attorney/real estate developer once said to me, “I’ve been in a lot of partnerships involved in a lot of projects, and let me tell you I’d much rather be in bad projects with good partners than good projects with bad partners.” How can we not say God feels the same way about us? He is the One who is always the good Partner that gives 100%. If we’ll just make that choice with 51%+ to “will to do His will” even difficult projects will work out as “He brings all things together” for our good. But even His best projects for us will fail if we prove to be bad partners.