Or did you get in on faith? That’s supposed to be a sure-fire strategy, believing in Jesus the Christ, incarnate, crucified, risen. Don’t need any documents from Column B – you believe, you’re in.
And what about behavior? Some of us “solo gratia” types aren’t too keen on the idea that you can “do-good” your way into the Kingdom. But Jesus did say something about “doing the will of God…”
And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (This Sunday's gospel passage is here.)
We can’t take “behaving” out of the picture, any more than we can take out believing, birth or baptism. The Realm of God is an “all of the above” kind of enterprise. It can be useful, though, to explore what it means to do the will of God. If it were easier to discern God’s will, we wouldn’t worry, wonder or wander as much.
One way to discern God’s will is to ask if we’re doing something Jesus told his apostles to do: proclaim the Good News, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. Oh, and feed the hungry, visit the incarcerated, love the unloved, forgive those who have wounded or taken from you. All that.
And what about things that don’t fall easily into "apostolic" categories? What about choices we have to make when we want to know what God wants us to do? There are a few measures that can guide us:
- Is what we’re contemplating consistent with what we find in the Bible, or at least not contrary to what Jesus or the apostles taught?
- Is there confirmation within our community of faith, even by one other person, for the course we’re taking?
- The “gut check.” Do we have an inner sense of peace about it? If not, we should keep praying and exploring.
Are you in discernment about anything in your life at present? What happens when you pray about it? We don't always get a “straight answer” to those kinds of prayers, but if we keep our eyes and spirits open, we might find clues in “coincidences,” or things we observe or song lyrics, you name it. God has our number, if we keep our lines open.
Ultimately, Jesus said, his Father’s will was that “everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40). If we can live in that understanding, we will swim in God's will all the way to eternity.