God has a plan for your life … or does he?


By Rev. Jason Allison - Your Pastor Speaks



And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

“Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet.”

I remember my youth leaders using this quote to assure me that God was doing something special in my life and would not stop until he was finished. I was special and God had a plan for my life. God would never give up on me. And then they would quote Philippians 1:6.

As I read this verse one morning I realized how often I had used it to encourage people that God continues to work in them even when it doesn’t feel like it. God is not in the business of giving up on people!

And then it hit me…

What is the “work” God is doing? Why is the “you” plural?

I had always just assumed that the work was my salvation. God’s work of sanctification would continue in me. I was, after all, special and God had a plan for my life!

Looking at the context of a verse or passage is one of the foundational rules I teach people when they begin reading the Bible. If we look at the previous verse we find that the “work” Paul is talking about is not my personal salvation. It’s not about my own personal sanctification. It’s not even about me personally!

Paul is telling the believers in Philippi that just as they joined God in the good work of spreading the Gospel in their area, God would continue to work through them to spread the good news. The work God is going to finish in them is the spreading of the good news of Jesus. They can count on the fact that God is not going to give up working through them to spread the Gospel.

As I think through this I am both a little hurt and quite relieved. I’m hurt because that line of coffee mugs and t-shirts I was hoping to sell that makes everyone feel good that God isn’t going to give up on them (and then quote this verse) will never go to print. I’m also a little hurt that my idea of God having a personal plan for me might be overreaching.

God has a plan for the church. God has a plan for redemption for His creation. God has a message of hope to be shared with the world. His plan for me is that I get to participate with Him in sharing that message. I get to join Him in the process of seeing the Kingdom of God lived out in the here and now. God will not give up on His plan.

I also find some relief in knowing that no matter how bleak things might look now, God is not finished. The church will continue to be God’s vehicle for sharing the good news of Jesus even with all of our issues. Just as the early church had issues — hence all of Paul’s letters! — and God still used them to share the good news, so also God will continue to use the church today to accomplish His work.

The real question we need to be asking ourselves today is whether or not we are willing to be God’s conduit. This may mean sacrificing our own goals and dreams (read: God’s special plan for my life) on the altar of God’s plan for His Kingdom. It may mean rethinking the goals for our church and ministry to make sure that they are in line with God’s work of spreading the good news.

I still think God has a plan a for my life. That plan is to participate in spreading the good news by sharing it personally as I am able and helping churches engage in God’s mission. Coming to grips with this simple mission meant letting go of some other dreams and aspirations; but in letting go of those it also brought freedom and joy in the clarity of knowing the work God was doing in, through and with me.

One thing I know for sure: God is not going to stop working with and through His church. So I’m sticking with the Church. We might have issues and we still have lots of room for improvement, but please be patient, God is not finished with her yet!

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By Rev. Jason Allison

Your Pastor Speaks

Rev. Jason Allison is pastor of spiritual formation at Press Church. For information, go to www.presschurch.tv.

Rev. Jason Allison is pastor of spiritual formation at Press Church. For information, go to www.presschurch.tv.