Within or Without

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‘Do you see the will of God as outside you, or as in-built? Is it something you are meant to be doing for God, or is it mainly something God is doing in you? ’

I have been mulling over these questions this week. Thinking about how my attitude towards myself, others and God reflects my answers to the questions. The will of God is as big a concept as it is a minute and detailed one. There are two major ways of viewing God’s will; the panoramic view of the will of God encompassing plans for humanity as a whole, the story woven from creation right through to eternity. Or, the individual 20/20 vision of the will of God encompassing our daily decisions and lifestyle choices, how we practically walk out what we perceive to be God’s will for us individually in each moment.

I believe the will of God is not just something worked from without, but a mixture of within and without. It is working with God for God.

If we believe His will is something solely outside of us it is easy for us to become detached and distanced from involvement in it. Our responsibility to see His will worked out in our lives and in our world somehow seems ethereal, a product of Holy Spirit direction and not a collaborative effort with our own co-operation. In this instance, His will is external and aimed at reaching those around us; we take a backseat in the great cosmic plan. We retreat back to the age old refrain ‘the will of God is not about us…’

But, I think the will of God has everything to do with us and everything to do with Him. It is in-built within us from the day we were born. We have an innate desire to not only be with God, in His presence and in His glory, but to serve Him for a purpose much bigger than ourselves. To be creative in how we live out the story of our lives, to be like Him.

To be like Him means that we need to allow God to do something in us. Therefore, His will is not just something we are doing for God; it is something He is doing in us.

The will of God from without;

‘The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’– 2 Peter 3 v 9

‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’– John 3 v 16

The will of God from within;

‘For those God foreknew He also pre-destined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.’– Romans 8 v 29

‘For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose.’– Philippians 2 v 13

Within and without, with and for– God is working out His will in our lives.

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To Be Chosen and to Choose

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‘Those who labour in the Earth are the chosen people of God, if ever He had a chosen people’- Thomas Jefferson

Rejection is painful. The impact of it can leave a mark on the soul, almost as a physical impact leaves a mark on the body. Being left out, cast aside, ignored and overlooked goes against the grain of our hearts. We were made to be seen and valued, rejection flies directly in the face of this.

Strong feelings of rejection wormed their way into my life this week, a result of circumstance and my own perceptions. Perception plays a big part in rejection; I believe it is the match that lights the fire, the thought that initiates rejection feelings- blazing a trail for the enemies work in our lives.

In the midst of the struggle I felt God leading me to adjust my perception. He was beckoning me to come up that bit higher in my thinking, to view things from His vast perspective.

I read this week about the wonderful paradox of the kingdom of God being upside down and inside out. The last being first and the first being last. He that would be the greatest being the servant of all. Jesus seems to delight in glorious paradoxes.

It is those of us who feel the most rejected who have unprecedented reasons to rejoice;

‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad’- Psalm 118 v 22-24

God takes pleasure in seeking out the rejected for the sole purpose of choosing them.

We are chosen. If we feel rejection, we know it is just that- a feeling. We can choose to change our perception and focus on the knowledge that we have already been chosen. Better still, we’ll be in good company (John 15 v 18).

We can use rejection as a catalyst for mission. Let it propel us out into the highways and byways of our cities, seeking out the overlooked and forgotten ones.

We can be intentional about living with our eyes open, noticing the people around us, seeing the unseen amongst us. And when we see them, we can choose them. Choose to show kindness, choose to encourage them, choose to befriend them, choose to feed and clothe them, choose to listen to them and choose to honour them.

When we do this something beautiful will happen to them…they will become the cornerstones of life. We will watch with awe and worship, exclaiming in wonder;

The Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes.

Who is a potential cornerstone in your life?