My will versus God’s will?
Underlying so much that’s troubling today is a perennially problematic characteristic: willfulness.
It’s easy to see the consequences of human will in global problems, such as authoritarian leaders clinging violently to power or a government imposing religious views by diktat. What’s often less obvious to us is willfulness in ourselves. How often do our words and actions deviate from the profound humility of Jesus’ example by saying, in effect, “My will be done”?
Yet the spiritual antidote to this is always at hand in the prayer known today as the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus shared with his followers. It is directed to the infinite intelligence that is God, the divine Mind of us all, and includes the declaration, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, emphasis added). This shows us that if we want to experience the undivided harmony of God’s ever-present kingdom referenced earlier in the prayer, we have to play our part. We must be willing to submit to God’s will instead of insisting on what claims to be our own.
Jesus’ words are interpreted spiritually in Mary Baker Eddy’s primary text, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Enable us to know,—as in heaven, so on earth,—God is omnipotent, supreme” (p. 17). Christian Science reveals that “my will versus God’s will” is, ultimately, no contest, and that God’s will for us is to experience the supremacy of His all-powerful goodness and love governing our lives. This results in healing and transformation, in being empowered to help others, and in joyfully glimpsing both God’s pure goodness and ours as God’s spiritual expression.
How often do our words and actions say, in effect, “My will be done”?
Who would want to exchange all that for a will of their own?
In fact, Christian Science teaches that none of us can. Why? Because the foundational and enduring truth is that God is Spirit and is All, inclusive of each of us. We are God’s spiritual offspring, obediently reflecting the divine will. Yet, in our day-to-day lives we certainly seem to bow to human will to some degree, and that has consequences. As the Apostle Paul wrote, according to The Living Bible, which is a paraphrase of the Scriptures, “Don’t be misled; remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it: a man will always reap just the kind of crop he sows!” (Galatians 6:7).
It’s often when we’ve proved one too many times that self-will reaps a poor crop that we’re finally ready to turn from our self-determining way and wholeheartedly seek the divine will. But turning to what’s right doesn’t result just from seeing or experiencing what’s gone wrong. We have an innate oneness with God that impels us to want to know and do God’s will. As Science and Health says, “The scientific unity which exists between God and man must be wrought out in life-practice, and God’s will must be universally done” (p. 202).
This means yielding the willful thinking that would persuade us that we, not God, are in charge of our lives. This faulty perception that we have a self-driven human nature is an inversion of our true spiritual identity as God’s child. It is the Christ, the communicator of this true identity to human consciousness, that enables us to recognize the spiritual reality, alerts us to ways in which we are enacting the false claim—but also can correct it.
Acting willfully is turning our back on Christ’s healing love, yielding to a consciousness that is neither Mind nor derived from it. Christian Science reveals this matter-based mentality as mortal mind, the home of appetite and passion, which Science and Health says cooperate with will, to ill effect. But Science and Health doesn’t leave that problematic partnership as the last word on human will. It says of will’s cooperation with appetite and passion, “From this also comes its powerlessness, since all power belongs to God, good” (p. 490).
In this week’s lead article, author John Quincy Adams III explains how he was able to “Rein in willful insistence.” Whether facing a similarly subtle strain of “My will be done” or more flagrant willful impulses, we can exercise the same self-knowledge and open our hearts to the will of the divine Mind, God. God’s will frees us from negative traits and harmful impulses.
Realizing the reality of God’s all-power lifts consciousness above the evidence of the material senses to the spiritual fact that God’s will is eternal, universal, All. That leaves no time or space for there to be an independent “my will” determined to pursue its own goals, often at the expense of others. We bring out our inherent harmony and health and support the emergence of more peaceful, healthier societies as we evidence God’s will on earth as in heaven—just as Jesus evidenced it in his life and healing ministry and taught it in his timeless words.
Tony Lobl, Associate Editor