What I Expect from God
Matthew 16:21-23 Jesus began to show his disciples that he must… be killed… And Peter… began to rebuke him, saying… “This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said… “you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
I sat, not long ago, talking with a man in jail who believed in the existence of God but chose not follow him as God had never done anything for him. His life was a painful tale of crime and consequences, winding in and out of prison most of his adult life. He had prayed many times for God to deliver him from his circumstances and God had let him down every time. He believed God existed but had no interest in him as God had never once answered his prayers. What good is believing in God if He does not help me?
Many of us harbor this dissatisfaction with God. We are frustrated with his poor performance in our lives as He has failed to deliver on our expectations. Our disappointment betrays our distorted view of God. We erroneously think that He exists to serve us. It is not that we always want bad things. We may be praying for the health of a family member, but when God does not deliver, we are frustrated with him.
Peter tried to bend Jesus to his will. In this passage, Jesus revealed to his disciples that He had come to die. This offended Peter who knew him to be the messiah, so Peter told him as much, Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you! Jesus, perhaps tempted by the desire to avoid pain, reacted strongly, Get behind me, Satan! He told Peter that if he was not following God’s plan, he was necessarily following the devil’s.
The lesson for me here is that no matter how good my intentions are, if I my will stands in opposition to God’s, I have become an agent of evil. If my focus is on what Scott wants instead of what God wants, then I am in the wrong.
What does mean for most of my prayers? I am always praying for my will. Am I wrong to do so? It is not wrong to pray for my will. Jesus prayed as much before his death, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done (Luke 22:42). The difference is, Jesus ultimately submitted to God’s will and was not bitter when he did not get his way. He expressed his will but submitted to the father.
So, does faith in God mean a miserable life of servitude, never getting what I want? No, I need to remember that Jesus’ will had to occur for Peter to find redemption. If Peter had his way, Jesus would not have gone to the cross and neither Peter, nor I, would have found God. Peter’s will, though it came from pure intentions, would have undermined salvation for all. It is only in following God’s will that I get that which is ultimately in my best interest.
God’s will is always the path to life. My path, when it opposes God’s, is always the path to destruction. I would do well to continually submit my will to his if I want life instead of destruction.