Study Guide: The Who and The Do

Monday July 18, 2011 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

God’s will for us is primarily about who we are and not what we do. When we realize who we are in God’s eyes, then it is much easier to find God’s will in our lives. In this sermon, Pastor Seuss shares with us some practical ways to open up to finding the Who portion of God’s will.

Extended Summary:

God’s primary will is about who we are and not what we do, and it is rooted in our identity, not our behavior. Many people misunderstand Christianity. They think it’s about doing this or not doing that, when in reality, it’s about communing with God. Even seasoned Christians sometimes forget this aspect as they search for God’s will in their lives. God wants each of us to be filled with his will and to understand who we are in Him. Only after that should we focus on God’s will in what we do.

Jesus died for us because of who we are. He didn’t die so that he could have more worker bees or so he could bring certain gifts into the Kingdom. Rather, he died for us because we are worth that sacrifice. Intrinsically and inherently, we are worth the sacrifice, and it’s not for anything we’ve done. Rather, it’s usually in spite of what we’ve done. God wants to commune with us in deep ways that will reveal his will for us, but only when we can accept who we are.

There is no strict formula for communing with Jesus, and there are many different ways to do it. Even though there isn’t a formula, we can still try different ways of communing. One great way is to set aside time to spend with Jesus. Going on a date with Jesus if you will. Making this time for Jesus, whatever it looks like, will bring you greater understanding of who you are and God’s will. And even though there’s no set formula, we’ll give you an example to try.

Take some time to yourself away from all the distractions of this world, where you can be alone in your time with Jesus. Put some lyric-less music on that you like. Dim the lights a little bit and make sure there’s no excess noise in the room. Invite Jesus in prayer to commune with you. You can keep it light and just talk about your day and the things you enjoyed doing. You can delve deep into your life, asking Jesus to illuminate the dark corridors and hidden areas of your past. Whatever you choose, just be sure to use your imagination to bring up concrete memories. Remember the smells and sensations. Then let Jesus speak into the scene as it unveils in your imagination.

You should expect a response from Jesus from within you. It won’t be gimmicky or some sort of test that you can propose to God. Instead, whatever God wants to communicate to you, should arise within you because your spirit and his are communing. Rely on the Spirit’s prompting and feel the nudges that God sends your way. There are a few things you should know about this practice in order to make it effective.

The first is to pay attention. When we live a busy life, it crowds out God. God might try to shout to get your attention, but more than likely he will gently nudge you. It’s your job to be looking for the nudges. Pay attention to the things that seem out of place to you or different to you. When he nudges your heart or shows you something in your imagination, pay attention to it and make note of it. In this way, you can see the subtle ways in which God is talking to you.

The second is to embrace uncertainty. Not all of your inner stirrings will be God’s voice. Yet, some of them will be God’s voice. There is uncertainty when it comes to the spirit nudging you. There is one simple question that can help discern who is doing the nudging. Ask yourself: if I act on this, will it follow Jesus’ character? If the nudging prompts you to be more loving and self-sacrificial, then even if it isn’t God’s specific will, it is under God’s general will. Over analyzing the nudging of the spirit can paralyze action. Embrace the uncertainty and follow the simple question’s answer.

Spending time communing with God is never a waste. Even if you do nothing with God but talk and share memories with him, it will be an exercise that grows you closer to God. You might just be surprised at how effective it becomes to know who you are in God’s eyes. Try to remember God’s presence and how he stirs your spirit, and as you walk in the Who you will learn how to Do. Embrace the uncertainty and pay attention, and you’ll start a beautiful journey with God.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. Do you think imaging God in your memories is useful? Why or why not?
  3. Why is it so difficult to set aside time for God? What things do you have trouble pushing out of your mind?
  4. In what ways might you be able to incorporate those things into your time with God? Perhaps it’s an old memory or frustration with someone that you can imagine and share with God?
  5. Try out the sample exercise in the extended summary for a week. Did you feel any gentle nudges from God? If you did, what did it look like to act on them?