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Accomplishing God’s Will – Part 1

Christians are people who are destined for heaven. Peter, quoting from the prophet Joel, proclaimed that “it shall be that everyone shall be saved who calls on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 2:21).

Now Christians profess Jesus as Lord. Is that a guarantee of salvation and entrance into heaven? Jesus gives us the answer: “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Mt 7:21).

The Father's Will

So what is the will of the Father? How do we do his will? Is it a question of doing good works? Is it doing good things for God? We may think so, but God may not agree. Many of us who try to do good may be surprised at the final judgement. We may expect a pat on the back by God, but received a boot on the butt. Jesus himself warns us: “Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name? Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers. ' ” (Mt 7:22-23).

That should give us cause to pause. Yes, even for us who are supposed to be living a renewed life in the Spirit. Notice the exercise of impressive charismatic gifts. Prophecy! Driving out demons! Miracles! We would be impressed!

But not God. Why not? Well, God is not impressed by deeds. After all, he is the miracle worker par excellence. What God is looking for are not deeds, but obedient hearts that are predisposed to do his will. The deeds will just naturally follow.

Further, one can perform good deeds but be a person who is not living in accordance with God's will. Consider the Eucharistic minister who holds and distributes the very body of Christ but might be having an adulterous relationship. Consider the preacher who mightily proclaims the word of God but is into financial wrongdoing. Good deeds, or even mighty ones, can be done by persons who live evil lives. After all, Satan can work mighty deeds as well.

Thus the very important question: what is the will of the Father? Let us focus on three aspects.

Called To Holiness

Paul tells us: “This is the will of God, your holiness” (1 Thes 43). The first aspect of God's will for our lives is that we become holy people. If we are to be obedient, we should hearken to God's call to us, and not live our lives according to our own ways or desires. Peter says, “Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written,” Be holy because I am holy. (1 Pet 1:14-16).

To be holy is to avoid evil. But beyond avoiding evil, to be holy is to do good. But even beyond doing good, to be holy is to imitate Christ himself.

Called To Evangelize

Paul also says that God “wills everyone to be saved” (1 Tim 14). The second aspect of God's will is to bring salvation to all. That is why God sent his own Son into the world. God went to great lengths to save mankind, sacrificing his very own Son. And even as God eagerly desires to bring his children to himself in heaven, he “delays” the second coming of his Son in order that many more can be saved. Indeed, “the Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard 'delay,' but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet 19). “It is not the will of (the) heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (Mt 18:14).

How can many more come to repentance, and therefore to salvation?. Paul explains the process. “For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent?” (Rom 10:13-15). We can imagine Paul making his points emphatically. How can this thing happen unless that thing happens first? How, how, how!

Well, Jesus started the whole process going. He sent. He instructed his disciples to go forth and continue his mission, saying, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Jn 20:21). He sent forth his disciples to preach the good news, so that people who hear can believe and thus call on the Lord and be saved. It was the Father's will to send Jesus into the world, and it is the Father's will that everyone be saved. Jesus himself says, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 6:40). Thus it is also the Father's will to send Jesus' disciples to continue his work in the world.

Christians need to evangelize, to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus. It is we who bridge the gap between the salvation won by Jesus on the cross, and the acceptance of that salvation by people.

Continue to Part 2

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