Years ago, on the old TV show, “The A-Team“, the namesake characters seem to regularly get themselves locked into a machine shop with everything needed to create unusual weapons. This wasn’t very bright on the part of the bad guys, but that was a different era of TV.
One of the lines that I remember from the show was when, at the end of an episode, “Hannibal” Smith would say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
Like the fictional A-Team, the life of a Christian is not expected to be safe, easy, or cushy (see what Jesus said in John 16:33). As a result, we should not portray following Jesus as something that costs us nothing. It costs us giving up everything over to Him, in exchange for becoming a new creation and taking up the abundant life that He offers. Similarly, we should not also imply that following Jesus makes people rich, popular, or the model of perfect health.
Now, followers of Jesus know that there are many blessings in this life when we walk on God’s path and let Him direct us. God often answers prayers for healing, direction, and tangible needs. However, becoming a Christian in order to “get ahead” in the social, business, or political world is missing the point.
When we sign up for the salvation and blessings of following Jesus, we are also expected to embrace the entire commitment. We sacrifice for others. We give up our own conveniences for the kingdom of God. When we are blessed, we share with others in the family. We share in each other’s joys, as well as bearing each other’s burdens. We remain faithful through good times and through suffering, but not just because we are personally strong and just “tough it out”. Instead, as 2 Timothy 1:8 reminds us, we get through this, for the gospel, “by the power of God”.
Take a look at the next couple of verses after that one.
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:9-10 NIV
Here’s why we should live a certain way: God did the hard work. As a result, when we accept His gift, our holy lives (which sometimes include suffering) are our responses to that.
God had planned (“before the beginning of time”) that we could be saved from the broken relationship that we chose when we sinned against Him. However, although Adam and Eve were given some prophecy (see Genesis 3:15, as part of the curse on the serpent), the specific process wasn’t clear to the human race until it actually happened. While we have the advantage of history, people living before this plan was revealed didn’t appreciate how God the Son would come to earth, live a perfect life, and voluntarily give up that life to pay for our salvation. Right up to Jesus’ ascension to Heaven, after His resurrection, even His followers were still trying to figure it out (see Acts 1:6).
Still, just because God had this plan develop over many centuries, the plan didn’t change from when He prepared it until it was completed. Like a wrapped gift, the contents don’t change when we open it; instead, learning what a gift contains is just the point where we find out for ourselves what the person giving it to us had prepared for us all along.
What happened when Jesus fulfilled this millennia-old plan? Well, He “destroyed death” and “brought life and immortality to light”. I’d call that a pretty successful plan! The death that Adam brought into the world was replaced with eternal life (ref. Romans 5:12-19, especially Romans 5:15-17).
So, I love it that God’s plan came together. However, God’s plan came together because He loved us, first!
From Sunday School lesson, prepared for and taught on October 11, 2020.
- Christian Standard, Volume CLV, Number 10, pages 83-84. © 2020 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, 1, 2 Timothy & Titus, by C. Michael Moss. Ph. D. College Press Publishing Company, © 1994.