Have you seen the advert doing the rounds on tv at the moment for Jessie Wallace’s new fitness DVD? Put aside the fact that she now looks like a little boy with muscles and look at the title: Jessie Wallace’s Look at Me workout. The DVD features the ex-EastEnders actress exercising in front of a giant neon sign which reads: “ME”.
This is a great example of the self-centredness of humanity. And it can be very easy to be all smug and say: “I’m not like that. I’m really nice and loving to everyone else. I’m not self-centred at all. No, not me.” You see, we’re all guilty of putting ourselves first above all things.
However, the Lord’s prayer up to this point has all been about forgetting our own wants and turning to God and asking for him to glorify his name and establish his Kingdom. Now we come to the third petition where we ask that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven.
Like the other two petitions this petition looks forward to the time when Christ will return and all these things will come to fruition. So we can say this prayer with confidence that God will do these things. In the meantime we are asking that in this life God would so transform us that we lay aside our self-centredness and live more and more for God.
In other words, it’s a prayer for continual sanctification.
Many people search around for God’s will. And a lot of people look around in the wrong place. For in looking for God’s will they turn inwards once again and start waiting for a “voice from God” or for circumstances to move in a certain direction that suits them. I often feel like waving my Bible around and asking whether they’ve given any thought to what God has actually said.
One of the great passages that tells us of what living a sanctified life according to the will of God looks like is Romans 12. In this chapter Paul details two ways of living. The life that is conformed to this world and the life of sacrifice demanded of the Christian.
The life that is conformed to the world is always looking to self as the centre of the universe. The world thinks of itself too highly (v.3), is haughty and claims to be wiser than it actually is (v.16). Look at the myriad atheist websites out there for examples of the smugness of human wisdom. However, ask them how they came to their conclusions oftentimes they’ll look at you blankly.
A Christian life is not to be like that. Paul says that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (v.2). That we must discern the will of God and to think with sober judgement (v.3). To live according to God’s will is not to live passively but to live with a love for the scriptures and a desire to know more of the things of God.
This will have consequences that the world won’t like. As you learn more and more about God you’ll become zealous for his glory. The world hates this. It hates people who know what you believe and why you believe it. They want you to be quiet, accept the verdict experts without question and turn on your television(vv9-12).
The other difference is in the way we are to treat others. The world will always judge their moral decisions on how it impacts them. And often it will repay evil for evil (v.17) and seek vengeance (v.18).
Christians, on the other hand are to bless those who persecute them (v.14), to feed and water their enemies (v.20) and to overcome evil with good.
This is the will of God for us in the inbetween times. And there will be times when we mess up and fail to live up to this ideal. And we must remember that Paul only gets to this point after 11 chapters showing how God justifies the ungodly. And God did this in Jesus who was obedient to the Father’s will, even to death on the cross.
So do not be disheartened. Pray this prayer with confidence for “the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Don’t make it all about “ME”. May God’s will be done.