I’ve been working through another of Kevin DeYoung’s books and am so appreciative of his thoughtful works and insights into the culture in which we live. I often feel as though he’s able to clearly communicate biblical truth about a topic or issue I had noticed but been unable to appropriately critique.
This time, I’m reading ‘Just Do Something‘ and it’s full of excellent insights into our way of thinking about the ‘will of God’. Anyway, a couple of thoughts really jumped out at me…you’ll find them below.
One of the ideas that’s become more prominent in our culture is the idea of fulfillment. A result of our have it now, have it your way, and pay for it later society is that we are used to having our every whim almost instantly fulfilled. We’re increasingly saturated with fleeting pleasures and (because these temporal pleasures aren’t truly satisfying) we continue to long for more and more fulfillment. As C.S. Lewis has said, ‘We are far too easily pleased.’
This pursuit of fulfillment is manifesting itself in our young people in the development of what some are calling ‘delayed adulthood’. Young people are taking longer and longer to transition to the adult world as their childhood is now dragging into their early to mid (and sometimes even late) twenties.
One of the primary pursuits and desires of our college and post-college students is the desire to find fulfillment. They want to travel, explore, experience experiences, create community, live life, and enjoy being alive. They want to live fulfilling, meaningful, and purposeful lives. They are eager to ‘find God’s will for their life’ and often seem unable to make a decision until that mysterious will is made clear. The search is on for a satisfying, fulfilling life and they envy those who seem to have found it.
DeYoung cuts to the heart of this issue in the lengthy section I’ve summarized next.
“Many of us have had it so good that we have started looking for heaven on earth. We have lost any sort of pilgrim attitude…Some of this is a generational thing…We were among the first to be programmed for self-esteem, as we learned that having a pulse made us wonderfully special. For as long as we can remember, we’ve been destined for superstardom. Some of us have been prepped for elite schooling since before we could use the potty, and we’ve been on the traveling soccer teams before we knew not to touch the ball with our hands. We’ve been stuffed full of praise for mediocrity and had our foibles diagnosed away with hyphenated jargon and pop psychology. It’s no wonder we expect people to affirm us for everything, criticize us for nothing, and pay us for anything we want to do. We want it all–all we need is for God to show us the way…The more my grandpa and I talked, the more I realized the will of God beyond trying to obey His moral will was an unfamiliar concept to him. ‘You just…do things’ seemed to be my grandpa’s sentiment…I guess if you keep busy and work your whole life, you don’t have time to worry about being fulfilled…We’ve assumed that we’ll experience heaven on earth, and then we get disappointed when earth seems so unheavenly. We have little longing left for our reward in the next life because we’ve come to expect such rewarding experiences in this life…I’m pretty sure most of us would be more fulfilled if we didn’t fixate on fulfillment quite so much.”
Focusing on the Wrong Issues
While laboring over making the ‘right decision’, it’s quite possible that we often make the decision much more complicated than it needs to be. This is illustrated by DeYoung in a section discussing some of the ways we think incorrectly about the ‘will of God’. There are many decisions we must make in life that just aren’t specifically addressed in Scripture. It’s not that God doesn’t care about these choices we must make, but perhaps we care too much?
“God certainly cares about these decisions insofar as He cares for us and every detail of our lives. But in another sense..these are not the most important issues in God’s book…the problem is that we tend to focus most of our attention on everything else. We obsess over the things God has not mentioned and may never mention, while, by contrast, we spend little time on all the things God has already revealed to us in the Bible.”
DeYoung elaborates on this idea at several other points and we’d do well to heed the call to care more about what really matters. The command of Christ in Matthew 6 was to ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness’. If we do that we have no need to be anxious because he goes on to add that ‘and all these things will be added to you’. It’s time to focus on what matters and make the hard decisions to choose the kingdom of God and to choose righteousness first.
The light this verse sheds on our choices is clear…decisions either become much easier (because one way helps us choose the kingdom of God and his righteousness) or they become much simpler (because neither choice is bad and we just need to pick the option that seems best to us). II Corinthians 3:16-18 reveals the amazing freedom that’s found as those who’ve been saved. Living within the will of God is much simpler and much more freeing than we tend to believe.