At John 7:17, Jesus said, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will
know whether my teaching is from God.” To which I have to ask: Why would
anyone not will to do God’s will? What kind of insanity or idiocy is this? It is
not as if you could get away with it, since God is God. And once you consider
that God is supremely loving as revealed in the Bible, why would you not
want his will to control, why would you not be appalled at the prospect of
one’s own feeble and finite will replacing his will?
Yet that’s exactly what Jesus encountered. People rejected him and his
teaching. It was not because people just misunderstood or were misinformed
or did not have enough evidence to make an accurate judgment. The root of
the problem was that people did not will to do God’s will. So they were
offended at Jesus’ teaching because it exposed their evil. Indeed, they wanted
to kill Jesus.
Jesus diagnosed their unbelief as rooted not in ignorance or sincere
agnosticism but in a perverse will — they did not will to do God’s will,
otherwise they would have recognized Jesus’ teaching as from God.
Do we will to do God’s will? We are masters at deception and guile; the
foolish pride that would confuse our will with God’s will can lie hidden deep
behind a devout facade. After all, it was the best people in Jerusalem — the
best dressed, best educated, the most well-spoken, those living in the best
houses, the most influential and religious — it was these who killed Jesus.
We have no superiority over those who crucified Jesus or who refuse to
accept Jesus today. It is only God’s grace, unmerited by us, that is saving us
from bondage to the foolish pride that does not will to do God’s will. But I
think as Christians we always have to ask ourselves: Do I will to do God’s
will? To what extent do I remain preoccupied with my selfish desires, while
giving empty and passing tribute to God’s will? We need to focus on why I
would do that. Given that God is unquestionably on my side and working for
me, and unquestionably knows what is good for me and has plans for me that
far exceed my finite imagination, why would I not 100% will to do his will?
Why would I not hunger and thirst for righteousness? As C.S. Lewis put it, it
is like refusing to go to the seaside so you can make mud pies in your yard.
And to those people who do not want to hear about Jesus, should we not
challenge them with the question: Why do you not want to at least take a
close look at this gospel? What strange perversity makes you not will to do
the will of a good and loving God as revealed in Jesus?
The command that we die to self so that we can live to Christ is not a
harsh demeaning command, it is the offer of a gift, the best and greatest gift
we could possibly receive.