There’s a deadly lie out there, one which I believe has negatively affected many. The lie is often subtle; sometimes it comes to us in the middle of the night or on a Sunday morning at church.
It often rears its head and shows its teeth in the shadows, when life seems out of control, when fears and doubts swirl around in our heads.
I remember early on in my faith I was exposed to the idea that if I do my best to follow God, get up early to pray and read my Bible, give a little money to the church, then I would be blessed. God would be close to me.
I could never measure up to this standard. I would sleep in and not pray. I would struggle and “mess up,” thus leaving me to believe I had thwarted God’s wonderful plan for my life.
I couldn’t understand why life had become more difficult and painful after I became a Christian. Isn’t it supposed to be easier, I thought? Something must be wrong with me. I must not have enough faith.
I’m not alone. I have talked with many people who have struggled with this same thing.
And you know what?
We’ve been fed a lie.
We have been taught that if we do enough for God, perform well, go to church every Sunday, read our Bible and pray for an hour, it will somehow activate God’s plan for our lives.
But it’s simply not true.
God is not some cosmic genie who will grant us wishes/blessings because we rub his belly.
So how do we undo this deadly lie?
1. Rethink how we use the term blessing. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word blessing? If we’re honest, it usually has something to do with what we get.
We live in a culture that tells us to get, to take, to consume. But God’s Kingdom is opposite of that. He tells us to give, to sacrifice, to die to ourselves so we can live.
Here’s the truth:
Blessing is more about what we give than what we get. The more we give the more we truly receive.
Does God have a plan for you? Yes, but it’s more about God using you to bless the world. (Tweet this.)
2. Understand that God’s plan involves the whole world (not just “our” world). I have a lot of friends who are non-Westerners (they didn’t grow up in North America). And one of the things they tell me often is how individually-driven American culture is.
They are amazed at how someone will move thousands of miles away from their parents to go to college; or how they make major life-altering decisions on their own without the support of family or tribe.
The truth is, our culture is a very individualistic. We’ve been taught that success is an individual achievement. Unfortunately, this has slipped into the Christian faith as well.
Did you know that nowhere in the Bible is there any reference to having a “personal relationship with Jesus?” It’s not there. Rather, we see faith expressed collectively –the body of Christ, togetherness, community.
Is there personal responsibility? Absolutely. Each person will give an account to God for how they lived.
Take Jeremiah 29:11 as an example. Many know this verse and quote it with ease:
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”
But what we’ve often done with this verse is individualized it. Additionally, did you know the context behind this verse is one of great darkness?
God’s people are in exile, living in a grossly secular city called Babylon.
They were displaced, discouraged, and despaired, and God wrote them a letter through the prophet Jeremiah to encourage them. But here’s the kicker: This promise, this declaration of prosperity and hope, wouldn’t come until after 70 years.
Does God have a plan for our lives? You bet. But His plan is often different than you and I think… and it involves the whole world!
We are just fortunate to be a part of it, to play a small role in the redemptive work God is doing.
Questions: What do you think? How do you understand God’s plan?
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons: peasap.