God chose us to be holy and blameless in God’s presence before the creation of the world. God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan and to honor his glorious grace that he has given to us freely through the Son whom he loves. Ephesians 1:4-6 (CEB)
There are several words in here that really catch my attention: “God destined” and “God’s plan.” As a United Methodist, I don’t believe in predestination or that God has laid out a plan for us. I cringe when people say that everything happens for a reason. We were given free will and the ability to choose right from wrong. Thing in the world that are horrible often don’t have any reasoning in them – consider the number of times we ask “why?”
Maybe it’s just easier for people to let go of the unanswerable by sending it back to God. Let’s face it, there are many experiences most of us just can’t understand, explain, or even cope with. I am certainly one of those! God’s mystery is unexplainable. Life often is unexplainable. Events that take place are often unexplainable. So we rationalize to try to make sense of it, and we say that it was God’s plan or that it was destined to be.
But if we look at the entire passage of Ephesians 1:3-14, we find something that I often miss (frankly because I have tried to avoid preaching on the Epistles for the most part, at least until this summer of 2015). In the verses above we read: “God chose us to be holy and blameless before the creation of the world.” “God destined us to be his adopted children . . . according to his goodwill and plan to honor his glorious grace.” God’s plan was not individualized but for the whole of human creation.
Creating us was God’s act of love in bringing us as God’s children into the world. This was accomplished through the life, death, resurrection of Jesus for the redemption OF THE WORLD. We are given the freedom to love and live in God’s grace according to Jesus’ teachings and example. As God’s adopted children, we are part of the family of God. This comes with the responsibility to respect, honor, and glorify God in our living and in all that we do.
While I believe that God hears and answers all our prayers, even the smallest and seemingly most insignificant, I also believe that God allows us to choose our direction in life with the understanding that we will choose to live in God’s ways. We all need parameters, and anyone who has raised or worked with children can testify to that. Our actions have consequences, both good and bad. God’s will is that we would live life fully and to the best of our ability as we glorify God in our living.
God isn’t a puppeteer who manipulates us, and we have the Holy Spirit along with the example and teachings of Jesus to guide us in our living. I picture a huge map in our lives with a beginning and an end (birth to death) with all kinds of roads which we can take. Sometimes I wonder if God just shudders at the one we chose, and then sends someone to touch our lives so that we can find a new path, or maybe God throws a party when we have gone down a really good path. It’s hard to know, and I guess none of us will know until we see Jesus face to face.
I often read “How do you live your dash?” by Linda Ellis at funerals and occasionally during my sermons. It always has an impact on people. It’s a great reminder that we are called to live the dash between birth and death so that we make a difference. As Christians, we do it within the plan of God for us to act as part of God’s family and live fully as God’s children.
What have you done today to make someone’s life better?
How are you living your dash?
What are some of the behaviors and attitudes that need changing?
What do you celebrate as God’s child?