I heard it again just yesterday. Yet another pulpiteer begging people to “choose Jesus” because “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” Then, of course, it’s up to the individual sinner to make that wonderful plan operational through their choice, determination, or willingness to let God do what He’d like to do for them. It’s theological mumbo-jumbo. It’s sub-biblical pabulum. It’s banal and insipid. It’s tripe where substance ought to be. Should I go on?
You would never have been able to convince the First Century church or any of the apostles that God had such wonderful plans for them. Their lives were full of trouble and sacrifice. Genuine Christianity recognizes that this world is not our home and we’re strangers and pilgrims on this planet.
The Apostle Peter knew this well, and wrote:“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” (1 Peter 2:20-21)
And, of course, Paul wrote:“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” (Phil. 1:29-30).
My point is, the apostolic writers never say that God has a “wonderful plan for your life” and they never used such language as part of the gospel call. Rather, they expected hardship in this life, knowing that the world that hates Christ will equally hate those who belong to Him. That being the case, the plan and purpose that God has for His children revolves around their eternal destiny much more than around their goals and comforts in this life.
Nevertheless, we can have confidence that our activity in the world is in the hands of the One who works everything after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11). And, it will all work out for His glory and our greatest good. As Paul wrote:“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Some of the men who followed Jesus after He fed the 5,000 asked Him what they should do so that they could make sure they were working the way God wanted:Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:28-29)
In the end, our lives are not about working correctly: following the right rules, getting the best job, joining the biggest church, making the most of our money, etc. The real work of God is to believe in Christ. Once that’s in place, everything else supports that primary purpose in life. It’s typical of us flesh-and-blood folk to think we’re in control. If life has taught me anything, it’s that I’m certainly not. The bad things that happened I never saw coming. And the good things happened despite me. So, I know I’m not driving this bus.
Read Jesus’ words concerning how we should live:“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Mat. 6:25-34)
It’s hard to trust that completely. But, the longer I live, the more faithful God appears. The key is to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” The rest will fall in line.
Lastly — we walk by faith, not by sight. As we walk through this life we trust that God is leading, opening and closing appropriate doors to get us to our predetermined destiny with Him. If God has loved us since before the foundation of the world and written our names in the Lamb’s book of life, He will not leave our lives (both temporal and eternal) to chance. There is no way to be outside of the plan of a truly Sovereign God.
So maybe we should start a T-shirt and bumper sticker campaign that says, “God has a sovereign plan for your eternity.” At least it would be biblical. 🙂