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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

He Declares That He Knows His Plans For Me

Life can be a very distracting thing. I know that in the past thirty minutes my passion for superheroes has led me to rewatch a couple of trailers (in anticipation of the release of Age of Ultron in one month's time). Or the fact that I have movies and tv-shows to distract me from the time. But despite life's distractions (and some of them can be great and crazy and fun don't get me wrong) we are all called to one big deal - one great commission - to make disciples.

I've been thinking recently in connection to this about the Bali 9 duo who have had so much conjecture around their fates and been turned into some kind of political hostages between Indonesia and Australia. It's disappointed me to see some people so casually say 'they knew what they were doing' in reference to their executions. Just because people knew what they were doing doesn't mean that brutal justice needs to be so casually considered - if those people were in the same position I doubt they would think that way. However, this led me to see that for many people the natural position of the human condition is justice. We want brutal cold justice - unless it's served to us.

Another issue I was led to think about is how easy it is for individuals to judge something then that is happening in another person's life. It is easy to judge the external things that you see in someone's life and only feel pity or sorry for that which you can see. In other words, it is easier to have sympathy perhaps than it is to have empathy. I was reflecting on this issue in relation to the verse in Jeremiah 29:11 through to verse 13.
"11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
So often Christians use verse 11 to support the idea that God knows what He is doing in their lives but continue to live their own lives. It's almost as if, because God knows His plans, we can continue to live with our own plans and everything will end up okay. But I'm not so sure that's what this passage means. The context was during a time when the Lord was prophesying a difficult time for His people but that He would be with them. I see this passage as God's way of letting us know that He has everything sorted despite our own choices yes, but that there is an element that demands too that we seek God. It demands that we seek with all our heart and then we will find Him, and in Him our hope and future. The problem comes when we separate ourselves from seeking God and decide that we have everything sorted on our own and that God can clean up the mess afterwards (like the helpful parent that he is).

The same thing goes for justice. We want justice for other people, but we don't want justice for ourselves and the cruel things we do. According to God's justice we all should die an eternal death for the lies we tell, the hateful thoughts we think and all the sins that we do - because sin is our way of saying that we do not need God. Even the pharisees who lived according to the law sinned because they forgot the reasons for the law - to point out to them that they needed a relationship with their God - and yet when this merciful connection appeared in the form of Jesus, they had Him crucified. And still God's plan was met through this crucifixion (and later the resurrection which confirms that Jesus is God) because it provided a righteous sacrifice so that justice for all of us was served once and for all so that we don't have to live dealing out cold justice - but an act of mercy.

At church the point has been raised the past few weeks that when we ask 'why does evil exist?' the bigger question is 'why do we allow evil to exist?'.  God has given us mercy - not justice - so why are we so often fixated on dealing out justice and punishment? We should be dealing in love and forgiveness. I look at what God is doing with Andrew Chan and I am reminded again of God's grace for all - I might not fully understand God's plan there but I know that He knows the plans that He has for Andrew Chan as He knows the plans He has for me.

If you read any article about Andrew Chan's past it makes for powerful testimony - http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/bali-nine-andrew-chan-revisits-his-past/story-e6frg6so-1227248567336 - but each of us have our own powerful testimonies too. Andrew Chan has found that God has a purpose for him to reach out to inmates and preach the gospel, because while he might be in prison he has been set free inside. Who am I, who are we, to judge what God is doing there? I know it is human nature to judge but God is the divine judge and He calls each of us worthy and redeemed if we call His son Lord and savior.

I began this post by saying that life can be distracting, but that we are all called to make disciples. I continued to talk about how God has his own plans for us but that this is not reason for us to sit back on our laurels. Rather, it is a reason for us to seek God with all that we are, in all that we do - and at the same time a reminder to not judge God's plans in another person's life that we don't understand. I don't understand why God is allowing these things to happen to the Bali 9 guys now - but I do know that God will make His name known. In fact God told me this, He told me clearly that 'I will make my name known'.

He will make His name known - the greatest thing is that He chooses to make His name known through us. He wants to invest into us and give us a choice to spread the good news of a reformed and redeemed life - a life of internal freedom and connection to Himself. But He wants you to make His name known through the strategic places He has put you the universities, the workplaces, the homes, the cities, the countries. There is a mistaken belief that only some are in the 'Christian Church Ministry' - no, we are all called to minister the gospel and there is not some code of doing 'wrong or right' for the church so long as you follow God's plan for your life and preach the gospel loudly where you are and with whatever gifts you have.

I know that for myself I have talents in speaking (argumentatively at least) and writing and so I try to use them to expressly point out God's glory - I don't do it as much as I should or as often but I want to work on that and get closer to perfectly reflecting who God is to me. My challenge to you is to find out what your own gifts are and to start ministering in your own situation - start asking questions and giving answers or even if you do not know an answer speak the truth. The worst thing is for you to be completely silent in any way, because in the end He knows His plans for you and He is above and beyond embarrassment, fear or shame. Anything that goes wrong because of your 'stuff ups' will turn out all right - but just 'do not go gentle into that good night...'