Practicing “Thy will be done” Faith
July 31, 2021
Any Christian who has been on the journey of faith for some time knows that although following Christ may be an adventure it is not always easy. In fact, there are times when it seems impossible. Jesus was upfront with would-be followers about the challenges of following him. He told them doing so would require much of them–it certainly did not guarantee material comfort (Matt. 10:19-20), his priorities would need to become theirs and placed above even family loyalties (Matt. 10:21-22), and followers would need to be prepared to go to places they did not want to go (Jn. 21:18).
In so warning them, he wanted to impress upon them that by becoming Christians they were necessarily giving up something: their independence. They would no longer belong to themselves but to God.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus demonstrated this sacrifice of independence by consistently submitting to God. Although his journey was filled with snares and peril, he still went where God sent him and did what God asked of him, even calling doing God’s will his “food” (Jn. 4:34). There were moments as in the Garden of Gethsemane when obeying God was excruciatingly painful, but he did it anyway.
Christ’s “thy will be done” faith can be difficult to practice in contemporary western society. Ideas of sacrifice and discomfort do not fit well in our “feel-good” culture, but God is still leading his people to uncomfortable, sometimes perilous, places that require painful submission. Our faith demands that we yield our personal comfort and preferences to him.
Because God is always doing something much bigger and more significant than we realize, we can only imagine the consequences had significant biblical figures insisted on their own way. What would have happened had Christ insisted on his comfort and refused to deal with the humiliation and pain of crucifixion; had the disciples decided not to share the Good News because of the hostility they faced; had Paul decided that the persecution he had endured was a bit much and chosen not to write letters to encourage the budding churches; and had Moses refused to return to Egypt?
For some of us, submission may simply be exercising greater restraint in our speech, changing our entertainment choices, being bolder in our witness, letting go of an unhealthy relationship we may want to keep, and so on. Whatever the act may be, we can be sure of one thing: there is price to be paid when we choose our will over his.