The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 29, 2013

Craig Tally: Dating service may not understand God's will

By Craig Tally
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — "Find God's match for you" is the catchphrase for Christian Mingle, a dot-com business venture that purports to take information you provide and run it through its database, where God's choice of a soulmate for you eagerly awaits. I am occasionally asked my opinion about this as a means for determining the will of God.

Taking advantage of today's technology seems to me as legitimate a way as any to meet people. I have known several people who have successfully used social media to meet individuals who eventually became spouses.  

However, I have reservations about a business "partnering" with God in marketing God's will.

I also have reservations about the idea that God's will is planted out there as some hidden treasure waiting to be discovered by the diligent seeker.

Then, when we think we have found it, we can't be certain.

These ideas seem to run counter to the nature of God.

Love is a primary feature of God's nature. It suggests truths about which we are certain.

For instance, to be loved by God means that God desires to be in a caring relationship with us. He desires our presence. He wants us to know him. He wants his will to be known. He reveals these things.

To be loved by God also means that God acts in our best interest. And it is certainly in our best interest to have a clear understanding of God and what he wants for life.

But knowing God's will is not the same as having a blueprint, plotted and diagramed by God. We were created to relate with God, not to be a puppet of God. There is no love in that kind of a relationship.

This way is more difficult than following a plan, but it is better.

How might we visualize this way of seeing God's will? Imagine with me a fairly typical scenario in suburban America. There is a house with a fenced-in back yard where the children play on the swing set, in the sandbox, with various yard games, or romp with a pet or two. They even have their own little garden space and a telescope for viewing the night sky.

However, they are not to venture beyond the fence. Loving, learning and laughter are experienced within the boundary. It feels safe because it is safe. Beyond the fence lurks trouble and danger.

As parents take pleasure in seeing the children do what children do in the backyard, so does God take pleasure in our doing what we were made to do as we live our lives. We have been given a life. Earth is our backyard.

And there is a fence. We are to love God with all our heart and soul, and we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Within the boundary, there is laughter, there is learning and there is wisdom.

Even in times of suffering and death, there can be a sense of safety. Ignore those boundaries, and we find trouble and sorrow. We are lonely. We are lost.

So, when people ask me about the will of God, I say make certain of your love for God in all that you do. Do not deceive yourself in this critical point.

Make certain of your love for your neighbor in the same way you love yourself. Love those who differ and who are different, not just those who are similar to you.

Then, follow your bliss and be happy. This, to me, is the will of God.