This is an “oldie”, but I think a goodie…I wrote this when rector of Good Shepherd Episcopal in Wichita Falls. Sorry I did not write a new one, but I spent too much time on building concerns this week. Please continue to pray for God’s guidance with our new church. God Bless
Today I was in Stripes, getting yet another Diet Dr. Pepper, and the cashier, who knows me because of my frequent stops, asked me if I knew God’s plan. He was expecting to stump me, as anyone knows that we cannot know God’s thoughts, therefore, it holds to reason that we cannot know His plan. But God has made His plan known to us!
We start with why we are here. God made us in order to share his love. This is actually a tough one for many to grasp, that God made us simply to love. We live in a time when we chose people and things on the basis of “what can they do for me”. How difficult is it to keep a friend around who does nothing for you, maybe one that causes you grief? We don’t have the patience for that; get rid of them! If they aren’t helping, they are hindering my progress! So it stands to reason we would have a difficult time understanding a God that just wants to share love. He is vigilant in standing by us; just waiting for the time we chose to look towards Him. He did not make us for work, for chores, nor for rules, He simply wants our love. Of course, before we all ditch the Ten Commandments, we should know to love is to want to change your life so it is in sync with that which is loved. To prove this point, think of your favorite hobby. I love to fish. I hate early morning. But when fishing is involved, I will voluntarily get up at 6AM and head for the lake. Why would I do such a crazy thing? Because I will willingly change my life in order to do something that I love to do. This works the same with people; think of what you changed about yourself in order to be with your spouse!
So God loves us, that is a basic fact, how does this give us any clues as to His plan? The Old Testament is often referred to as Salvation History. This of course refers to Christ’s work on the cross, which was done for love. Again, God spent thousands of years just trying to woo us back to Him. What then did Jesus tell us? Love your neighbor! In a big way Jesus proves to us that God loves us, Jesus then tells us to go and let everybody know of God’s love! How do we do this? There are many Christians that will tell you that God loves you, but we often look at them with suspicious eyes, thinking back to the Hare Krishna’s we would meet at the airport. Not wanting to be conveyed into some weird cult, we back away quickly. We live in a suspicious society, one that thinks in terms of people they can use. It’s no wonder we can’t tell people of God’s love, as they always wonder what’s in it for God? What does He want from me? Even more important, what does this Christian that is telling me of God’s love want from me? Again, too often, they back away quickly. To increase the problem, individuals are all too often wondering, “What can God do for me”? This puts the evangelist in a difficult situation; first assuaging the suspicion of their intended, and then trying to sell God as if He were a miracle floor cleaner!
This is where the plan comes into play. God’s plan for us was that we might gather communities in which we could love God and love one another, thereby displaying love that draws the world to it. This is our first order of business here on earth, as witnessed by Jesus’ last words to his disciples in Matthew 28: 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Well that is simple! We thought we had to navigate a maze of rules and regulations, make good for all past wrongs, and then memorize all the pertinent verses of the Bible! This is all we have to do?? Mostly. We must live in community, love, and do so in a way that will entice others to join. But there is also one other thing; we must make this our plan, our first priority, because it is God’s plan and His first priority. (remember what I said about when you love someone you want to change?)
What is our first priority? If we are honest it is family, self, and money. Which one is first which is second and which one is third varies from person to person. Now many will remind me that God did tell us too be fruitful and multiply, giving us a family and a lot of responsibility. This is true, but if this pursuit edges out God’s plan on our calendar; do you think we may have gone too far? Is it possible that we have allowed a laudable task, that of raising a family and planning a retirement, to shove God and His plan off our calendar?
Again if we are honest we will say “I do have God on my calendar”! I go to church! (well, most Sundays, unless my life gets too busy) Now we might think “church” will be our savior, our ticket to please God. But lets take another look at God’s plan.
God’s plan for us was that we might gather communities in which we could love God and love one another, thereby displaying love that draws the world to it.
Many churches have stagnated; ours has not grown in any discernable fashion in six years. If we were honest, we would have to agree that the love we share might not be contagious enough to draw all to our community, as God desired. Why? Maybe we have put God’s plan on the back burner, something to do after business settles down and the kids are out of sports and our retirement is fully funded. Perhaps we have our community just as we want it, and if anyone else wants to join they are going to have to conform to our likes and desires. Perhaps life is a little tricky lately and we just don’t have the patience to be nice and loving, so we lash out at others who dare attempt to join our community.
It has been said so many times that it is trite; “When we reach the pearly gates, God will not ask how much money you earned, where you lived, nor how much your family loved all you gave them”. God will ask one simple thing, “Did you fulfill my plan”? “Did you draw souls to Me by displaying love”?
Perhaps we should concentrate on God’s plan more than ourselves; lets be more about loving our neighbor, and less about loving ourselves.