knowing God’s will?

“Now I guess it’s the Lord’s will that I help correct the situations that have gone astray.” I cringed when I read this in the morning paper. Why? Isn’t it a good thing that someone has a sense of God’s direction in his life? Yes, but making that claim should always be made with trepidation. Making the claim as if it is what God intends for others is also presumptuous. This claim seemed to be made with neither trepidation nor with a sense that others may feel differently.

This was a claim made by the new appointee to the mayor of Upland, a post just vacated by the resignation of a mayor. The new mayor was appointed unanimously by the rest of the City Council. Does that mean they are merely pawns in the manipulations of a God who wants this guy to be mayor? I’m sure they don’t think so, but rather gave careful thought to who could best fill this vacancy, or at least that’s my hope.

When people make a specific claim, “this is what God wants” I believe they trivialize the nature of God. How is it one person can know the mind of God? God’s desires and intentions cannot be known by any one of us. In the Christian tradition, discerning the intent of God requires prayer, study, and alignment with the values of the community gathered around Christ. In other words, it is not a solitary experience but is communal one.

I don’t begrudge the new mayor a sense that this may be a call on his life from God, but claiming it publicly is like saying, “this is what God wants for the people of Upland.” That just seems a bit presumptuous and even arrogant. Casual certainty should make everyone of us stop and ask questions. For some reason, when a person claims the authority of God it makes others reticent to question that person’s sense of direction. If I question their claim I might be questioning God.

Allowing people to make that claim without question or reflection is granting them a higher moral authority. According to the quote, this man believes he has the moral authority to help correct the things that have gone wrong precisely because “it’s the Lord’s will.” I’m sure there will be some who find comfort in his sense of call. I hope he will have the good sense to listen to the other voices that caution him to be more careful when invoking the will of the Almighty.

Post a comment

Print your tickets