integrity test: resolving the clash of wills

In the last of the Integrity Test series, we considered what happens when there is a clash of wills.  Human life under the creative hand of God means that we live with the power to choose the attitudes and actions of our lives.  Jesus had a share in this trait as well.  In Luke 22:39-46, Luke presents his audience with Jesus’ conflict of will between what he wanted and what he understood his Heavenly Father wanted.  In the journey to the cross we must understand that Jesus did not have a death wish nor a desire to enter into the anguish of humanity’s sin and guilt–the very product of our lack of integrity with God.  However, Jesus did intend to live in union and obedience with His Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit.  Like Jesus, I find myself in a clash of wills when my intention to join God in what He is doing in the world conflicts with my natural inclination to preserve myself, to avoid pain, suffering, and discomfort by holding onto comfort, ease, the familiar, the safe, and the secure.  Here are few examples of when you might experience this kind of clash of wills:  when you know honesty with a parent or spouse will transform the relationship, when you are going to have to give away or sell your stuff in order to give to another, when you need to change your career path to pursue a passion and opportunity to serve that God has shown you, when you must parent with patience a child who is struggling, when you need to tell him or her “no,” when you are going to intervene in a conflicted and angry situation as a peacemaker, when you have to use your holiday to go on a mission trip, when you must wake-up every day and enter into routines with love, when you must keep investing in a covenantal relationship when you don’t feel like you are getting anything out of it, when you need to add a new discipline to your life in order to pursue God.

Now it is a different thing when the clash of wills is because of what I am doing in the world as an act of rebellion or even thoughtlessness of what God wants.  This message is really concerned with what happens when we have the good intentions required to join God in what He is doing in the world.  Jesus shows us that the clash of wills is resolved in prayer.  (You can listen to the audio of this message, When you have a clash of wills, later in the week from Cityview.)

Text:  Luke 22:39-46

Big Idea:  The clash of wills is resolved in prayer.

Unpacking the Text:

1. Jesus lived his life in communion with the Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit and in the company of those He called.

       “Jesus went as usual to the Mount of Olives and his disciples followed him.”  Luke 22:39

2. Jesus’ conflict with the will of the Father arises from His Trinitarian communion and from His intention to do the will of the Father in the face of painful and terrifying realities.

      “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  Luke 22:42

Jesus has already made reference to His Father’s will on this very evening by casting a look back to the Old Testament.  Here, Luke 22:42, “this cup” brings to mind the prophetic announcements of God’s cup of judgment for sin.  It is now finding its fulfillment in Jesus and the cross.  In Luke 22:37, Jesus quotes Isaiah 53 and identifies himself as The Suffering Servant, “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors;’ and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me.  Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

We must beware the path of least resistance.

On Sunday I did not mention Alex and Brett Harris.  However I include their material here as a good resource to anyone who would like to explore further the idea of “doing the hard thing.”  Though they are writing and targeting their message for a generation of teenagers, I have been inspired and encouraged by the revebelution they envision.  Check out their website & blog, read their book–Do Hard Things, and watch the following video to get the gest of their message.


3. Jesus knows the disciples lack the resources in themselves alone  to be victorious in the clash of wills and commands them to pray.

       “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”  Luke 22:46

4.  If you intend to join God in what He is doing to love the world and restore people into fellowship with Him, you will have to do the hard thing.  If you intend to do the hard thing, you will have to constantly realign your will with His through the communion, conversation and cry of prayer.


In the preservice count down at Cityview we showed a video featuring Steven Curtis Chapman’s redition of Matt Redman’s song “Yours.”  In it he includes a verse written after the devasting loss of his adopted daughter Maria, when she was struck and killed when his 17 year old son was backing the family car out of the driveway.  After much prayer and counsel Chapman returned to his tour to promote his newest album.

Notice how Chapman found resolution to his clash of wills.  How could he join God in what He was doing in the world when his own heart was so grieved and torn?  Elizabeth Diffin, a reporter who attended one of Chapman’s concerts writes:

“Blessed be your name” was the first song Chapman sang May 21, the day of Maria’s death, when he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to sing again.  Inspired by the story of Job, at one point the lyrics repeat, “He gives and takes away.”  “As I sang this song…it wasn’t a song, it was a cry, a scream, a prayer,” Chapman explained to the audience.  “I found an amazing confort and peace that surpasses all understanding.”

Chapman also shared that after Maria’s death, he’d reconsidered the words to all his songs and whether he could still sing–and believe–them.  Instead, losing his little girl brought the meaning of some of those songs into sharper focus.  One example was “your” which addresses how everything in the world belongs to God.  “In this song in particular, I had to come to a new realization” he said.  “There’s not an inch of creation that God doesn’t look at and say ‘all that’s mine.”  As a result of that realization in conjunction with Maria’s death, Chapman added a new verse to “Yours”:

I’ve walked the valley of death’s shadow
so deep and dark that I could barely breath.
I’ve had to let go of more than I could bear and
I’ve questioned everything that I believe.
Still even here in this great darkness
a comfort and a hope comes breaking through
as I can say in life or death
God we belong to you. 

Steven Curtis Chapman Explains the new verse

“Yours” as seen Sunday


The clash of wills is resolved in prayer.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7


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