If people in the news offer any reliable indication, our world is full of those who both understand and do the will of God:
--A bigamist tells a 14-year-old girl if she fails to submit to God's will and marry him, she will lose her salvation.
--Terrorist groups repeatedly send suicide bombers into crowded marketplaces and onto packed buses, killing and injuring scores of people. "God wills that we do this," they say.
--Religious leaders on opposing sides of controversial issues claim to know the divine plan and speak for God.
--A religious zealot murders an abortion provider, claiming it was God's will.
--A professional basketball player facing sexual assault charges assures fans and supporters that "with God's will, the sun will shine again."
--Friends mourning the death of conjoined Iranian twins during surgery to separate them say it was God's will that they die.
--A grieving mother whose son was brutally murdered expresses hope that "with God's will, everybody will be revealed who's involved in my son's death."
Each day, well-meaning people attempt to explain tragedy by attributing it to the will of God. Others try to justify their actions in a similar way.
Christians, Muslims, Jews and those representing countless other religions and worldviews all claim access to God's will. No wonder many are confused.
Acacia Resources, BCE's publishing imprint, works to produce timely resources for churches to use in equipping people to ask and answer tough but significant questions that help develop moral character and sound decision-making skills. Churches can then offer a clear moral witness to the larger culture and advance social change through informed and concerned members.
To that end, Acacia Resources has released a new, undated Sunday school curriculum designed to help adults better understand and do God's will. Doing the Will of God: Studies in Matthew examines what it means to do God's will as Jesus did.
The 13 lessons deal with the issues of repentance, obedience, temptation, religious expectations, community, our engagement with the world, our understanding of God, our practice of faith, the nature of family, God's activity throughout human history, our practice of justice, God's activity through those outside the faith community and our freedom to choose.
While the curriculum unit is undated, its release positions it for use by many churches during Advent and Christmas. Four of the lessons include Scriptures surrounding the birth narrative and are suitable for use during December. Churches planning to use the curriculum at another time during the year can use the lessons with Scriptures in sequential order.
No one understood and lived the divine plan more fully than Jesus. By learning from the way he followed God's will, we can better follow it ourselves.
Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.
Click here to download a sample lesson from Doing the Will of God: Studies in Matthew.