Sunday, September 23, 2012

"If I Stand..."

"The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance
I owe only to the giver of all good things..."

When I was growing up there was a popular religious saying that was almost a mantra in many Christian churches.  It stated that "God loves you, and has a plan for your life."  The first part is certainly true enough- God does love us all.  It is the second part that was a bit misleading.  In fact, it was theological horse poop!  Let me explain.

God does have plans for our lives, the kinds of plans that may be better expressed as hopes and dreams.  God wants what is best for us; God wants us to trust in his Son; God wants us to feel valued and loved.  But when people hear that God has a plan for their life, they begin thinking "blueprint."  They too often begin to believe that God has preordained a certain life path for them in which they have no choice.  It is implied that God chooses for us whether we are to be a CEO or a janitor.  When life goes wrong, when disaster strikes, when tragedy befalls us- "it was just part of God's plan."  Please hear this:  God does not put roadblocks in our lives ("all good things come from God")- He helps us navigate them!  It is also true (contrary to much popular preaching) that being a Christian does not insulate you from pain and suffering.  You still have to live in the real world, even if you are a fully-devoted follower of JesusThis faulty thought process denies the scriptural truth of free will and our ability to make really bad choices;  it refutes the creative role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  In this way of thinking, as long as we do everything we are supposed to, then God will love us and bless us.  As long as we stay on the path, God is with us.  In this theology, it's all up tous to do the right things and be the people God wants us to be.  Sounds like a man-made plan to me.  God's mission statement is found in John 3:16-17 (NIV):  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."  It's not about us- it's all about Jesus!  He IS the plan!  He is our rescuer.

If we could stand on our own (and we can't), then Jesus was not necessary.  He was a fool on a fool's errand.  If we could find salvation ourselves by following some blueprint for success, Jesus didn't need to die for us.  Sin will always separate us from God, and only the living Christ, crucified and resurrected, can bridge the gap.  I cannot stand on my own- I need a Savior!  The late Rich Mullins wrote a song called If I Stand (see video at bottom) that addresses that very topic.  Think about these words:

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
 that You will pull me through
and if I can't let me fall on the grace 
that first brought me to You...

That's pretty much the whole story.  We either stand because God is holding us up, or we fall with the unfailing knowledge that God will forgive us.  You want to see a plan for your life, some burning bush or holy graffiti that will show you exactly what God has in store for you?  Good luck with that- the disciples certainly never got one.  They seldom knew where they would spend the next night.  The Apostle Paul never had a clue what was coming next- including shipwrecks and prison time.  They just stood on the promises of God, tried the best they could to follow Jesus, and then fell into His loving arms when they failed.  Sounds like a pretty good plan to me.  It's called being saved by grace.  And that, my friends, is God's plan.  Give your heart to Jesus, and then enjoy the wild ride that follows.  We are called to follow Jesus, even if we seldom know where that will lead us.  Get caught up in "the reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God..."  Enjoy the video and have a blessed Sunday!

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