“God has now revealed to us His mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfil His own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.“
Ephesians 1:9-10 NLT
Hardly a day goes by without us making a plan of some sort. We plan the things we have to do in the day ahead. We plan how to get to work. What shopping we need. And then there is the process of planning a holiday, or a building project in the garden. Life is full of plans and the associated costs in implementing them. Jesus referred to the importance of planning – in Luke 14, He pointed out to His disciples that there was a cost involved if they wished to follow Him. And He used the examples of building a tower, or going to war, as events needing a plan. Of course, there are many days when we don’t make a plan. Perhaps a leisure day. But even then the decision not to make a plan is a plan in itself. I was once involved in planning major engineering projects and the saying “Fail to plan and you plan to fail” was often demonstrated by cost overruns and time delays. Life is full of plans.
So it must be no surprise to us to find that God has a plan. In fact the Bible is full of circumstances and events where God had a plan. For example, He orchestrated the events around the birth of Jesus, events meticulously planned out and recorded in the Gospels. In our verses today, Paul records that God’s plan started out as a mystery. Why did Jesus come? Why did He have to die? These, and many other events that took place during His short life here on Planet Earth totally flummoxed the peoples living in Palestine at that time. The plan they thought God would one day implement to set His people free was nothing like the one God had in His mind.
Paul reminded the Ephesians of what God’s plan was. It started with a young peasant girl saying “Yes” to an angel visitor; the subsequent birth, life and death of God’s own Son, Jesus. And His plan continued through the work of the early church as God’s plan for salvation was preached, and continues to be preached, throughout the world, to this day. In the spiritual realms, Jesus is building a house for us, because one day we who are Christians will join Him there. And then there is a day coming when Jesus will assume command over “everything”, not just a religion. “Everything” includes, well, everything. Governments, peoples, societies and so on down to the smallest particle ever created. Of course, it doesn’t stop there – it will involve all of Heaven as well. Jesus’ authority will be total. That is God’s plan, a mystery no more.
There is an amazing and mind-boggling implication in all of this. As God’s people, we are not observers, mere pilgrims standing on the touch lines of life, looking on as God’s plan is worked out through our traditional outlets such as missionary organisations and churches. We all have the opportunity to play a part in God’s plan. Of course we all cannot just up and leave our families and jobs to preach the Gospel in far-off lands, though perhaps some will be called to do so. But our part is very important, no matter how small we think it might be. God has resourced His plan with ordinary human beings, whom He has placed in just the right time and place to further His plan. We are no less important in our roles as Mary was two thousand years ago. Our role might not be so dramatic and high profile as being the Mother of Jesus, but in its own way our interaction with our friends, family and communities is still part of God’s plan. Because in doing what God has asked us to do we are bringing forward that day Paul called, “At the right time”.
So in our Pilgrimage through life, we have a job to do. We are not just plodding along towards Heaven, hoping that it won’t be too long before we get there. On the way we will meet other pilgrims, who God has plans for too. Our interaction with them in the way God requires is all part of God’s plan. Perhaps all He wants us to do is to give a cheery and encouraging word, “at the right time”. There may be some practical help involved in the case of others. We may be asked to build relational bridges with those who are outcasts and unloved – after all, Jesus was often accused of being a friend of sinners. We may be required to sow Gospel seeds not just through our words but also by the way we live.
One last thought. A very humbling thought. God doesn’t use the great saints of history to fulfil His plan. He uses sinners like you and me. Ordinary punters with our struggles with the sins we commit. With the issues of life. In the end, we are after all, “Beggars showing other beggars where to find bread”, to quote Bishop D T Niles. And one day, “at the right time”, we will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). We praise You Lord!