Was that God’s Will?
By Rev. Tim Klassen
Early in 1541, a man named Monsieur de Richebourg experienced the tragic death of his son, Louis. Louis was a student at the Academy in Geneva, where he was studying under the now famous theologian, John Calvin. Calvin wrote a lengthy letter to the grieving father, in which he penned these words: “It is God, therefore, who has sought back from you your son…. He took him away, because it was both of an advantage to him to leave this world, and by this bereavement to humble you, or to make a trial of your patience.” For Calvin, and many who have followed his convictions in the nearly 500 years since, every aspect of our lives is considered a mere reflection of the will of God.
This way of thinking has lead to popular statements such as, “everything happens for a reason” or, “it must have been God’s will for this to happen.” The only problem I have with such statements is that they are (often) not true. Of course, certain things that happen may be within God’s will; but to assume everything that happens is absolutely God’s will is arrogant and unbiblical. The simple fact that an event takes place does necessitate that God willed it to happen. If something unexpected comes your way, it does not mean that God must have been involved in bringing it to pass. I am not suggesting that God is not involved in the everyday aspects of our lives. I very much believe that God is not only interested in our daily lives, our struggles, and our future, He is also actively involved in them. This does not mean, however, that everything that happens is a result of God’s intervention or His perfect will.
Think of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were living in perfect blissful harmony. Then they were tempted and chose to rebel against God’s clear instructions. Their rebellion was not God’s will.
Think of Israel’s King. Israel wanted to have a King because every nation around them had a King. The Bible expressly tells us that God saw Israel’s desire for a King as their rejection of Him (1 Samuel 8). A King over Israel was not God’s will.
Think of false teachers in the early church. Much of the New Testament letters include warnings about false teachers who were distorting the message of Jesus and leading people away from the truth. These false teachers and their messages could not be God’s will if the Apostles were led by the Lord to warn others about them.
The Bible reveals God to be a Sovereign God. This means He rules and reigns over the things of this world. This does not mean that He controls us nor does He force His will on us. Rather, with graciousness and patience, He invites us to live lives of surrender to Him.
Joshua told his fellow Israelite, “choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24;15).
You and I can choose to acknowledge the God who made us and loves us. We can choose to believe in His Son, Jesus, who died for us. We can choose to receive the gift of His Holy Spirit to live inside of us. He will not force Himself upon us anymore than He forces someone to commit a crime or causes a tragic accident, injury or death.
He is a good God who continues to invite us to follow Him.
After laying before the Israelites the great power had have to choose what they would do with God, he leads by example by reminding them, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). May we all follow Joshua’s example. The choice is ours.