This is a follow-up to yesterday's message. If you have not read it - just skip ahead, read "Using Jesus as an Example is Dangerous" and then skip back to this one.
One of the highest "credits" to the Bible is its applicability over time. Though more than half of the scripture was written more than 2,000 years ago, the situations and lessons apply to the everyday lives of 21st centurions.
What remains dangerous about using Jesus is not that Jesus was a bad example, because Jesus was a perfect example. What remains dangerous is that we attempt to put Jesus into a small conceptual box, and then apply our own hermeneutics to extract advice.
Here's an example.
If we try to figure out how Jesus would handle the situation if He got His girlfriend pregnant, we can't. It is impossible to ask questions in that form because Jesus would never get his girlfriend pregnant. We are able to extrapolate what action would be best from the situation, but WWJD is the wrong approach.
When we take Christ and give Him a lifestyle in contradiction to His nature, we are using Christ in a way that is impossible. Another example: if we ask WWJD if he was caught stealing funds from the company's petty cash, we would be asking a meaningless question. Jesus would never have been caught because he would have never stolen it in the first place.
We have another question remaining to which we can turn. What would Jesus have me do in this situation to bring Him the glory? This is a very different question than WWJD.
For example, if you told your pregnant girlfriend that you were moving to California and she was on her own, it would not bring glory to Christ. If you told her to get an abortion because you didn't want children at your age, that would not bring glory to Christ. If you told her that would take responsibility for her and her child's welfare because of your role in the matter - Jesus Christ would certainly be honored.
If you denied the truth to your boss about your theft of the petty cash - there is no glory for Christ in that. If you hired a lawyer and used the minutia of the law to escape culpability, that would not bring glory to Christ. If you took responsibility for the sin you had committed, repented and repaid through whatever punishment was given you - that would bring glory to Christ.
Because we are sinful it is difficult to ask WWJD, because most of our problems are based on our own sinful nature. If instead we ask how to give the greatest glory to Christ through our handling of the situation, I think we can find our answers most clearly.
The fact is, being like Christ is difficult. Christ had only a single attribute that we need to emulate, and that is holiness. Holiness is a difference from the sinful world because it is selfless and righteous - something that is not natural. If we seek holiness, we will seek to be different than our sinful self, act in ways that are in the best interest of everyone but ourselves, and in ways that are glorifying to God.
The mental gymnastics required in putting Jesus in our shoes usually stops us before we can get an answer. If instead we ask what we can do to be more in the shoes of Jesus and bring glory to God through our holiness through the power of Jesus Christ - we have already done what is right.
I believe that there is a plan. There is a plan made for each person through all time. At the time we were created, God created a plan for our life. The plan is for our good, and created out of love. I believe that the plan is self-contained and that we can embrace the nuances of the plan through simple faith.
Here's what I mean. When I was born, God had in store a time that I would hear the gospel and come to accept Jesus Christ as my personal lord and savior. However, I was not aware of the plan, and I was not aware of the love God had for me. As a result, I was prone to not only sin, but also not to trust the plan.
When troubles would come into my life, I would handle them in the best way I knew - and not include God. As a result, sin would sometimes be the answer I would select for the question and God never had sin in the plan for my life. As a result of my sin at some juncture in the plan, my path had changed.
God still had a plan for my salvation, but it had to be changed because my sin had altered the plan God had in store for my life. Now, instead of my Sunday School teacher leading me to Christ when I was 11, my 4th grade teacher would lead me to Christ when I was 9. This may not be exactly what happened to me, but it is an example of what might have happened.
Here is a better example.
When I was born, God had in the plan of my life the perfect godly woman who would marry me and make me happy. He would arrange for her to be in my 7th grade history class.
Unfortunately, my future bride's father cheated on and divorced her mother and she and her mother had to move to Florida to live near her grandparents. God never has divorce in His plan. Sin has altered her life. She and her mother would die in a car wreck during the move to Florida.
My plan had to be changed because of the sin in someone else's life. Who God had in store for me, was no longer an option because her father had sinned. But the plan was not set in stone. God knew the plan would be changed due to our sin.
Instantly, and with loving detail my plan was updated. God had the perfect godly woman whom I would marry, and He had arranged for her to my in my 7th grade history class. But I was only 3 years old - it would be a while before we would meet.
Between the age of 3 and the 7th grade, other people's sin - including my own - would impact God's plan for my life. My salvation may be at a different time, but God would always include it in my plan. Eventually, God was able to work through enough lives for me to meet my wife at college, as she served me watermelon on the quad. God remained faithful to me to craft a plan for my life that was thorough and good.
Here's the point I am getting at.
If God has a plan for your life - you know that at every juncture, at every stress point, at every decision or trouble - God has through it through and made a way for you to pass through it. He is counting on you, however. He is counting on you to remember that God has made the universe, he has made the world, he has made you and he has crafted the plan. God is counting on you to have faith and rely on Him - He is never counting on you to sin.
If trials appear in your life and you do not sin through them, God can use your obedience to complete His plan for your life. He is constantly ensuring that His plan for your life is complete and perfect - if we do not mess it up, the plan will deliver us salvation, peace and life abundantly.
Faith in the plan is really faith in God and His reliability to care for us as a father.
God's plan is not a requirement. We can blow the plan again and again. He will never forsake us and leave us to the follies of random chance. He formed us carefully in the womb, giving us the necessary gifts and traits to navigate His plan successfully.
When trials come, remember the plan.
All God is expecting from you is to be faithful and obedient. He has worked out the details. What would Jesus Do? Jesus would remain holy, because even as we sin God is creating for us a way out. Through our holiness, God can use us to complete his plan through any problem or juncture.
When trials come, remember the plan.
On a personal note - I put up Christmas lights last night on my house. This is the first time in my life I ever put up Christmas lights on my house because this is the first Christmas I have ever owned a house (previously I owned a condo).
It was amazing how complicated it was to get it all figured out - where things should go - how to plug them in, which strand continued from which and which direction they should go along the rafters. I realize now that the years I helped my grandfather put up Christmas lights he had had years prior to consider the strategy of his light arrangements.
We also put up our tree. It is a real tree we got from the bottom of our mountain, there was a guy with a bunch of trees and we patronized his business. The tallest tree we have ever owned because our front room is the tallest room we have ever owned.
Kyndall and I get a Christmas ornament from each place we visit. When we decorate the tree it is a trip down memory lane as we reveal the next ornament and remember the times we had there.
There's a tradition for Kyndall to get me the Hallmark Star Trek ornament each year. I have a full armada of ships on the tree from Borg cubes to the original Enterprise. This year, Hallmark didn't come out with an ornament - that was disappointing.
The snow has finally melted away. We didn't even have to put the dog in the garage last night because the temperature didn't get down to the single digits. Her water didn't even freeze.
In two days (Saturday), Kyndall will be hosting a Pampered Chef party. It's a funny thing - people who live in the mountains are very friendly but are not very neighborly. Many people love the solitude and only on rare occasion interact with any of their neighbors.
I think this is unhealthy and it doesn't fit with Kyndall's personality either. We hope that this party - to which we have invited many of our neighbors - will be an opportunity to begin a relationship with our estranged mountain-mates.
Now, back to studying for the SQL 229 exam.