The plan was simple. We were going to burn the figurine because it was ugly and haunting the front door to my apartment. There were a few details to be worked out, but it was the only way we could destroy the thing, and not leave behind evidence. We knew WHAT we were going to do, and WHEN we were going to do it, we even knew HOW for the most part, but one thing was for sure, the Santa missile was going to be gone by the end of the night. It was a fool proof plan.
The “Santa missile,” was a 4 foot tall wood carving of Santa Clause that I had accumulated from a member of my family who no longer wanted it, and thought my apartment could use some holiday cheer. It had stood outside the doorway for an entire winter and into the early spring because, well, I was a teenage boy and I didn’t really have the gumption to take down my decorations yet. It wasn’t the MOST unattractive thing in the entire world – but it didn’t exactly scream beauty either. It looked more like a troll than Santa, and my friend and I decided it had to go. Only thing was, we didn’t want there to be any evidence in case my family member came looking for it, and so we did what college aged boys do when something needs to be destroyed without evidence, we devised a plan using fire and gasoline – more on that later.
Plans are important. Most people make them about a lot of things in their lives. Where to go to school and what for, how to get ahead in your job, how to win over that special guy or gal, how to raise your kids, how to stay healthy and alive – the list goes on and on. When someone makes a plan, it’s like they’re figuring out the best and most successful way to accomplish the thing that they want or need to get done. They’re making it as simple and easy as possible, and eliminating all threats to their plans success. Some people even go to the next step and formulate a “back-up” plan. What to do when the original plan fails, because admittedly, not every plan is fail-proof. The most extreme of us go to the extreme of creating multiple plans, all aimed at accomplishing the same goal, and differentiate them through letters. Plan A, B, C – etc. It’s fairly obvious just how important plans are.
So, it would stand to reason that something as important as reaching the world with the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – the single more important events in all of history – would come with a detailed and well thought out plan. One could also assume that since God himself, is the creator and sustainer, not just of all life, but this very important plan – that this plan would be the perfect one. No chance He’s taking any chances.
This is why it might come as a bit of a shock to you that “the plan” for reaching every person who ever lives with the good news of the story of Jesus – depends on nothing and no one other than you and me. That’s right, God’s first and ONLY plan for making sure the message about His eternal love demonstrated by the sacrificial death of Jesus, and His triumph over death shown through His resurrection – is for you and I to personally and passionately tell the story ourselves, to every one we know. Flawed sinful humans, telling other flawed sinful humans, about how we can escape the shared problem we all face. Don’t believe me? Just look at this exchange between Jesus and His followers, before He heads back up to Heaven;
Matthew 28:16–20 (ESV)
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It seems too simple. Like there might be a hundred ways that the whole plan goes sideways. What if we don’t like public speaking? What if we aren’t articulate? What if we say the wrong thing or offend the wrong person? What if they don’t listen or aren’t interested? What if, what if, what if… There are SO many issues – and not many good solutions. It feels like we need a plan to fix the plan. But I promise you we don’t, and here’s why. Jesus knew and knows something about us, that makes this plan one of brilliance. That thing is this. We need to see it to believe it. Peter did. Thomas did. Paul did. We all do. And so when it comes time that you and I are in a place of need and realizing our own depraved sinful nature and state – and all we want is to desperately fix it – we look for people who have been through what we are currently facing, and have found the answer for themselves. People want to know that others have felt what they feel, thought what they think and fear what they fear – and have come out the other side. So when someone tells you that Jesus can change your life – BECAUSE HE CHANGED THEIR’S – it makes the story as believable as it’s going to be. The proof is not in any pudding, it’s in the people.
And so it seems this “plan” God has for the spreading of His kingdom here on our planet – this bringing of Heaven to earth – God’s plan from the very start was for you and I to experience Him in our current reality and state – was the perfect one all along. Broken people telling other broken people how to get fixed up. Not in the blink of an eye, but moment by moment, piece by piece, through a combined and corporate effort. God doesn’t help those who help themselves, as much as He helps those who surround themselves with people who are looking to and following after Him. God’s plan is to put little pieces of Him into every situation, throughout the whole world, by putting His PEOPLE in the right PLACES to make the biggest difference POSSIBLE. It really is a great plan.
Speaking of great plans, late one night, my buddy and I drove to a gas station and filled a Crisco bottle full of gasoline. We had Santa Missile in the back seat, and decided to take him out to a cul-de-sac near a friends house in the country. We placed him in the middle, dumped a trail of gas like we’d seen in the movies, and lit and dropped a match. Nothing. So we tried again. Nope. In fact, the first three didn’t work. We were just about to give up – but on that fourth attempt, the trail ignited and Santa was ablaze! We stood there, basking in the glow of our glorious plan for all of 20 seconds before we realized we should probably swiftly depart. Only issue was it was misting and foggy outside, and the windows to our car had fogged over. We hopped in, rolled down the windows, stuck our heads out, and sped out of the neighborhood at the exhilarating pace of about 12MPH. It would’ve been hilarious to watch.
I bet God was smiling that night. A wry sarcastic one, that comes along with seeing people doing somewhat stupid things. Fortunately for us, He has the perspective we don’t. He can see that all the “stupid” things we do, can ultimately become part of the plan He has for reaching others for Himself, and undoing the stupid altogether. It’s a beautiful plan really – it’s the only plan – and a simple one at that. A plan so simple, it might just work. And when it does, it can’t help but change the world.