It’s a new year, and with that come the trendy New Year’s Resolutions. “How are you going to change your life for the better?”
We like to change and control our lives, don’t we? We go to school, and watch cooking shows, and take dance classes. We go to conventions, and join gyms and exercise programs for the sole purpose of altering ourselves when our own personal standard changes. We rely on the experience and guidance of professionals so that we don’t make the same mistakes. All we have to do is follow the instructions we’re given. Simple right?
Personally, I rely on my own experiences, and the insights of other theologians and teachers. Still, I’ve often thought, “I just wish I knew what I was supposed to do. This would be a whole lot easier if I knew God’s plan.”
Have you ever wondered that?
When I was in elementary school, I went on a 2-day retreat to a Christian camp. One of the activities there required all of us to be blindfolded. There was a maze-type course, and we had to make our way through it, holding on to the rope-boundary of the course. Along the way, there were various adults that would “help.” Some would tell us which way to go, but most of them would secretly steer us in the wrong direction. I remember picturing this huge, complicated maze and thinking, “Why don’t they just tell me where to go? I’ll never get there on my own.”
Truthfully, I would have been there all day. I took so long that they actually had to come get me and take me to the finish line. Once I took off the blindfold, I realized that I was the very last one to finish; the impossible maze I pictured was actually just a rope tied to a few trees. I realized that I kept getting lost because of the false guidance I was given–though it didn’t seem false at the time. The “wisdom” of those around me wasn’t wisdom at all. And I ended up looking foolish. Much of the time, our lives work the same way.
In the early years of the church, a false teaching arose that seemed to be mixed with Judaism, mysticism, and Jesus. There was a growing mindset that Jesus was not a physical person, but was a spiritual/angelic being. The basic thinking was that spirituality was good, and physical existence was evil. Additionally, God would never allow Himself to be defiled by taking part in physical existence, and would certainly never allow Himself to be killed by it. Therefore, Jesus could not possibly have been both physically human and divine.
Many people were convinced by this teaching, and were led away from the truth about Jesus. After all, the teachers were using good arguments and logic. And they appeared to be very experienced, educated, intelligent, wise etc… The original message of Jesus was now seen as foolishness, and it was tearing the church apart.
In a letter to one such group of Christians, Paul writes, “I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love (Colossians 2:1-2a, NLT).”
To another group of Christians, Paul wrote about wisdom:
“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent [Isaiah 29:14].’ So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish (1 Cor. 1:18-20, NLT).”
That packs quite a punch. This no doubt stepped on the toes of Christians who were bragging about following specific leaders. If God uses foolishness to create true wisdom, and makes our own wisdom look foolish, then where does that leave our greatest philosophers? Where does that leave our educated thinkers, and our PhDs? Where does that leave our theories? Where does that leave our logic?
Later, Paul continues:
“Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, ‘He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness [Job 5:13]’. And again, ‘The Lord Knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless [Psalm 94:11].’ (1 Cor. 3:18-20, NLT)”
Sometimes Christianity seems pretty “upside down,” doesn’t it?
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last (Matt. 20:16, NIV).”
“If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it (Luke 17:33, NLT).”
Could it be that God simply enjoys playing with us and turning our world upside down? Or is it more likely that it was already upside down, and God wants to set things right again?
By now, you may have asked yourself, “What does any of this have to do with discovering God’s plan for my life?” For that, I want to go back to Colossians, and finish my earlier quote.
“I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments (Colossians 2:1-4, NLT).”
Yes, God’s plan for your life is–and always will be–Jesus. I know this sounds like a cheap answer, but hear me out!
Ever since humanity was first separated from God, God’s plan has been reunification through Jesus (read Eph. 1:5). God’s plan is unity with each other under Jesus (read John 17:20-23). God’s desire is for everyone to be saved from death by Jesus (read 1 Tim. 2:3-4). And God’s plan is for all of Jesus’ followers to tell the world about Jesus so that the whole world might also be saved (read Mark 16:15).
Jesus is the wisdom of God, he is the power of God, and he is the plan of God. No matter what we do, or where we go, this is the big picture. No matter what God’s plan is for your life specifically, I guarantee you that it has to do with this–directly or indirectly. I challenge you to look at your life through that lens.
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7, NLT).”