Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Plan

Sometimes hearing talks about God having a "plan" for your life gives me the same feeling as sitting with an investment banker going over a financial portfolio. It's like we've made Jesus into a guy that has great ideas on what stocks you should be investing in and what career you should be pursuing, and if you're not moving up the corporate ladder of Christianity, then you need to get with the program! That's not the Jesus I know. The Jesus I know accepts sinners and loves them day in and day out, whether they "get better" or not. No wonder so many Christians run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to figure God's "plan" for their life. So we obsess over this "plan" and live in constant anxiety if we're not living in the "plan" set up for us. Isn't it enough of a "plan" to find out that Christ loves you unconditionally, and rest in that fact day after day?


John Three Thirty said...

Uggggghhhhh. You hit on one my "sore spot" Christianese cliches.

But you didn't say the full sentence, bro. It officially is "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life".
Heh heh. Puke. Heh heh. Hurl.

I've not thought of it in terms of sitting down w/ a financial planner (maybe that's because one of my blood brothers is one, and he's cool).

Here's where I am on that phrase, and I'll do my best to be brief.

I've been going through a living, rotten, hellish sewer of circumstances for sixteeen months. A wilderness, cat 5 storm, etc.

Several 'leaders' in the local fellowship I've been attending, including the former senior pastor and a small/cell group leader, habitually said/say this to me.

This phrase means ABSOLUTELY nothing for a person going through train-wreck emotions in life.

They mean well. They want to be hopeful, positive (puke), an "encouragement" when they say it.

(I'm trying real hard not to bash here. I know they want to help, and they mean well, but they should check with God instead of just blurting out the latest Christianese.)

So, just a word to any of you who meet someone going through a literal hell in life. Please don't say "God has a plan" or "God has a purpose" to them. Please. If they're a recent Follower, this will confuse them. If they're a mature Follower, it will piss them off, and they'll walk off pissed while you think you just "encouraged them in the Lord". Please.

Sad example of this, and I'll close.

I follow an online Christian message board from time to time. A lady on this board lost a college aged daughter a few months back. Since that time, from within a week of the accident forward, the mother continually keeps saying "I'm trying to find meaning in this", "I know God's got a purpose for this happening but I'm just lost".

I've told this Follower time and again "quit trying to figure God out about this and just grieve. Just grieve!"

It angers me to see what lemmings we are perpetuating by this "plan"/"purpose" teaching going around. This lady just lost a child, and while God himself is grieving about what's happened, this Follower is effectively saying "okay, get over it and explain".

How callous an approach. And yet we tell unbelievers about how strongly and passionately God loves humankind.

No wonder people, believers and unbelievers alike, are confused.

We proclaim He loves beyond measure, but then we jump into (heartless) "analyze and understand" mode when tragedy strikes, trying to explain God to ourselves and others. While He's weeping about it.

Casey said...

I work at the place that was started by the man who thought up that phrase...so here's my thoughts. :)

I like everything you said John.

I think Christians are notorious for offering pat answers to stuff. Somewhere along the way we have bought into some bad lies that make us play down the harsh realities of the world around us and all the implications of living in a fallen world.

Basically, I think people have taken what actually is truth and have demeaned it to a pat answer.

Does God love me? yes.
Is whatever He has in store for me the best? yes.

The thing is, instead of being spirit led people and allowing the love of Jesus to flow through us, we open up our mouths and recite something. Sometimes it's better to keep our mouths shut.

John Three Thirty said...


Absolutely. It is actually a true phrase (He DOES have a plan), but wow how we have watered it down.

What gets me is that is a statement for baby C's or unbelievers who are unsure about this whole Jesus/God thing.

To someone who's eating meat instead of drinking milk, this phrase is like going up to a physicist and saying "1 + 1 = 2", and then wondering why they don't just gush down at your feet on this miraculous revelation.

The other phrase that is hyper watered down is "God bless you".

Aaaarrggghh! :-)

I've heard everything from "don't think this is not an extremely powerful witnessing tool when you say this" (I nearly swallowed my tongue in either shock or laughter on hearing that one.

Also, isn't "God bless you" what all those Nigerian email scam artists put at the end of their con emails?

Isn't that the phrase that EVERY person in America started saying after 9/11, regardless of how sinful we are? God's blessing is not a birthright. Yes, grace abounds, but to think sow/reap is passe is to be blind about our nation.

I don't say this to rake folks at the street corner, cause I have a vastly increased compassion for them, but that's the phrase on all their signs whether they be clean or wino.

This also ties in with a recent post on this blog about being the salt of the earth.

The dilution of Followers' saltiness from these pat cliches is def a part of it all.

dorsey said...

Holy Smokes! How did I miss this conversation?

John, this is a sore spot for a lot of people. The problem with cliches is that people have taken otherwise beautiful, meaningful, powerful words and drained them of their beauty, meaning and power by thoughtless, vain repetition.

"God Bless You." This should be the highest level of respect that you can offer another person, wishing the tangible favor of the Almighty upon them. But we've turned it into a mindless reflex, much like a fart.

John, I don't have any answers for you, but if you need a shoulder (or just an ear), dorsey@dorseymarshall.com.

God ble...(aw, dammit).