As I mentioned yesterday, I've had some problems recently with a little booklet we use a ton here with Cru. This booklet offers, as a starting point to a relationship with God, that:
"God loves you and has created you to know him personally. He offers a wonderful plan for your life."
My problem is emotional and experiential. See, I believe that this statement is true. I believe that God does indeed love me dearly. Just one glance at the cross forces me to concede that the pain of life cannot be because God does not care. The cross proves his care for me; that he would choose to take upon himself all that I deserve in my brokenness and sin, and that he would do this freely, leads me to believe deeply that God's love for me is genuine and deep.
I also have a deeply held belief that this fiercely loving God has a plan for my life. Now, this "plan" is very nuanced. I believe God knows what is going to take place in my life. Though I do not believe that God controls all things like a master puppeteer; in other words our decisions matter, and they have the potential to change the course of history. So, in a manner unlike a puppeteer, but also in a way that upholds his control over the universe and all things therein, I believe God's plan unfolds. His plan for my life is somehow wrapped up in his plan for the entirety of the cosmos.
This could diverge into a whole other theological set of thoughts, but I'd rather stay the course here…
If God loves me dearly, and he has a wonderful plan for my life, then why does it not seem so wonderful?
The short answer is… I don't know. That's as honest as I can possibly be. Why tsunamis and tornadoes and earthquakes? Why tonight will there be Christians, married for 40 years, celebrating their anniversary by staring vaguely at one another with nothing to say? Why will there be college girls this very weekend, just trying to enjoy life as they've been told, viciously date raped by overly aggressive teenage boys? Why will children this very night be orphaned due to tragic accidents involving their mommys and daddys? Why were grain working civilians in Syria simply collateral damage from the US-led bombings there? Why? Why? Why?
How can this be God's wonderful plan? There are many answers. And most are trite. Few, if any, really do business with the emotional realities these questions surface.
Are we just fooling people, and ourselves, when we declare that God's loves us all and offers a wonderful plan for their lives?
Well, honestly, perhaps so. Most of the answer to that question is probably only understood in the midst of specific conversations and relationships. For example, what do I mean when I say God offers a wonderful plan? And what am I understood to be meaning? Does the manner in which I'm presenting God's wonderful plan leave room for tragedy and heartbreak and shattered dreams and pain? If not, then we should absolutely be rethinking the way we offer God's love and plan.
Would you be willing to commit, with me, to promising that when we present God's love and wonderful plan to others, we are not colluding with the stories in our hearer's heads--those fake stories of peace and tranquility and all things right directly following a conversion? Could we promise to only present Christ Jesus honestly and authentically?
And I think, should we all commit to that, we would see an uptick in disciples while simultaneously seeing a downturn in the number of "decisions" we see for Christ. Let's raise disciples.
I think in the future I'd like to chat more about what exactly God's wonderful plan is, then, but that will have to wait for another day. Feel free to begin the conversation below.