Cross Purposes

Three Crosses & Rays of Light

“Your will[i] be done[ii]….” (Matt. 6:10). This statement that is part of the way Jesus taught us to pray is not just a onetime proclamation, but an ongoing imperative cry for an emerging and growing reality in the life of the believer and in the world.

The phrase, itself, and the Greek verb tense (aorist imperative[iii]), suggests an emphatic, insistent, ongoing abandonment our wills to the will of God. “YOUR will be done!” is how Jesus taught us to pray.

Conflict occurs in our lives when people with different interests are working at cross purposes against each other. The results are disharmony, frustration and tension. What are the consequences when we are living our lives at cross purposes to God?

Some people may think that God does not care what we do, and He is not interested in the details of human history or human lives. If God created us, however, He must have had a purpose for creating us. That means He does care, but His interest in us is based on the purpose for which He created us.

We know the consequences of people working at cross purposes. Should we not be concerned about God’s purpose in creating us? Should we not want to determine if we are working in the direction of God’s purpose or against it?

Should we not want to please a God with the power to create the world? Even the selfish, self-centered nature in us might want to get with God’s purpose for no other reason than for fear of the consequences of working at cross purposes to such a God.

The writings of the Bible that were generated over a 1600 year span all speak of God’s interest in mankind, and they highlight that mankind is central to God’s purpose. The Bible is God’s communication to men through men who chose to submit themselves to God and His purpose rather than follow their own ways. The person of Jesus is God’s interaction in the history of men, and through Jesus God calls to people to turn away from our own selfish purposes to God’s purpose.

God gives us the choice, though, to get on board, to get in line, to accept God and His purpose, or to reject it in favor of our own.

Jesus taught us to pray earnestly that God’s will be done now and ongoing into the future in our lives and in our world. The prayer Jesus taught us to pray is an exercise in choosing God’s purpose over own purposes – choosing the purposes of the Cross rather than working at cross purposes with God.


[i] The word translated “will” is 2307/thelema, from 2309/thelo (to desire, wish) – properly, a desire (wish), typically referring to God’s preferred will – his best offers to people which can be accepted or rejected. The suffix, ma, points to the result hoped for with the particular desire (wish). Thelema nearly always is used to refer to God’s preferred will in the New Testament. Thelema is the term used to mean God offering his best to people, calling for their choice to accept or reject his desire. Thelema is contrasted with 1012/boule, properly meaning a resolved plan, particularly an immutable plan, which in the context God conveys the idea of all of the circumstances of life working together to accomplish his eternal purpose. Thelema, on the other hand, is God’s desire offered to men that may either be accepted or rejected. God extends his preferred will – his best – to men (hoping that none would perish and all be saved), but the choice is left up to us to accept it.

[ii] The word translated “done” is 1096/ginomai, meaning properly, to emerge, become – transitioning from one point (realm, condition) to another. It signifies a change of condition, state or place. It implies motion, movement, growth. It is used to convey a sense of God’s actions emerging from eternity and becoming (showing themselves) in time and space.

[iii] The aorist imperative commands the action to reach completion, focusing on its first needed attainment and most immediate application (“Get it done!” or “Just do it!”), often conveying a series of individual (complete) episodes, meaning, “Do this as immediately and decisively as called for – and once again and again as the need arises.


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