Summary: Part 4 of 10 in a series dedicated to debunking commonly held myths that we think are in the Bible but really aren't, myths that can and often do have devastating effects on our faith.
INTRODUCTION: As Christians, we love God, we know that He loves us, and therefore we want to live lives that follow His will and ultimately honor and glorify Him. The question then becomes… how exactly do we do that? The answer is… we live life and God guides us as we live that life!
BACKGROUND: So when the “rubber hits the road” and it comes time to make a major life decision, (college, career, spouse etc.) most all of us experience a heightened interest in discovering God’s will, and we do it with intense fervor. We pray for it; we ask others to pray with us and for us, all in hopes that it will become clear what God wants us to do. So again we scour the pages of scripture looking for conformation that God’s not only got everything under control, but that He also has everything planned out for us… that He has our back... then there it is, in black and white… Jeremiah 29:11 People have taken this verse and a few others in scripture and drawn the conclusion that “God has a Blueprint for my life.” But does he really have a blueprint? Or is it more of a game-plan?
BLUEPRINT VS. GAMEPLAN
• The “blueprint” concept about God’s will is a pervasive idea in the church, it’s an idea that often (when things are going good) gives us comfort, but it’s also one that can have dangerous effects on our spiritual life, so the question is… Does God have a “Blueprint” or “Game-Plan”
• You may ask, well aren’t they the same? They sound similar, and they are similar, but different!
• Blueprint – a specific set of instructions that spell everything out in detail
• They are so specific that anyone with the ability to read/follow them can build exactly what the architect had in mind – you don’t mess with blueprints, you follow them without question
• One deviation from the plan = a catastrophe!
• Game-Plan – a set of guiding principles with flexibility built in so adjustment can be made as life goes along, a plan that shapes us and molds us.
• This second one is how God typically interacts with His children, that’s not to say that God doesn’t sometimes have a very detailed and specific plan. (Hosea & Gomer & Israel’s camping instructions)
• Now “game-plan” doesn’t = “do-as-you-please, “all is ok” – let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water! We’re given much freedom of choice/desire in life but let’s not abuse the privilege
• Besides being a faulty metaphor of how God works, the “blueprint” mentality also wreaks havoc on our spiritual life
• (1) It makes us question God – his goodness, justice, love, mercy, etc. when “bad” things happen
• (2) It paralyzes us with fear – we’re so afraid of making mistakes that we fear action
• (3) It skews our focus – it turns God into a consultant for finding things rather than a God who guides and transforms.
• Our task isn’t so much to “find something” but to “become someone” a reflection of His image and character no matter when and where we find ourselves! (Romans 12:2)
JEREMIAH 29:11 (In Context)
• Now back to our key verse… it’s not what we think it is, and it doesn’t say what we think it says
• Stop taking Jeremiah 29:11 out of context! This is a statement that I want to shout from the rooftops! I love its message, most of us do, but we really do some terrible things with this verse
• First this verse isn’t a promise of a blueprint, but the promise of a plan, a LONG plan – (vs. 10)
• This verse, quoted to countless individuals who are struggling with discerning God’s will, is not written to individuals at all, the “you” in the text is plural – specifically the nation of Israel
• This is certainly a far cry from our expectation of this verse, God did have a future and a hope for them, but it would look far different than the Israelites ever expected.
FREE WILL VS. SOVERIENTY
• Also at play (and often adding to the “blueprint/game-plan” confusion) is a theological issue concerning the extent of God’s guidance/direction (sovereignty) in our lives
• On one hand is the idea that God not only has a plan for us, but that the plan is absolute, down to every action and word, in every situation, is pre-determined by Him
• On the other hand is the idea that we as children of God have the freedom, and in some situations (especially regarding salvation) responsibilities to make our own choices
• So what is the answer, sovereignty or free will? – Both positions are based on scripture, and yet appear to conflict with one another, so how do we find the answer?