I recently wrote a blog about a statement that damages the Christian worldview more than any other: “You just need to have faith”. It seemed to hit a nerve with people in a way that a lot of my other blogs haven’t. My friend, Beth, then gave me the great idea that this could be whole blog series on statements that Christians make that are damaging to the Christian faith. I followed her lead, and figured I should throw the question out to my friends on Facebook to see what they thought were some of those statements. I soon found my Facebook flooded with some amazing answers that I hadn’t thought of, as a result I’ve decided I should take Beth’s advice and start this blog series. I hope you all enjoy it and please let me know if there are any other statements you think I need to include!
Check out the statement Christians Shouldn’t Say: You just need to have faith
Many of us have heard this one before, perhaps said in a different way, but in one way or another we’ve heard someone say it to us and maybe even said it ourselves. Maybe instead we’ve said, ‘God’s ways are not our ways’, or ‘God has a plan for all of this’, or even ‘God works in mysterious ways’
When we say this sort of thing as Christians it’s usually for to comfort someone who is going through a hard time. It could be a nasty divorce, perhaps a unexpected job loss, a sudden death of a friend or family member or some other hardship. We say it because we think the idea that God has this all under control will help them to have hope in the tough spot they are at. The problem is the wording, and timing of this is just off enough that it does more harm than good. Before I explain why let’s do a little bit of theological unpacking to figure out where we are getting this idea from.
God is all powerful and all knowing. In that, we know that nothing that God does can happen without God at least in some form allowing it to happen. In that sense it seems to make sense to say that ‘it’s all part of God’s plan’. The problem comes when life hits us hard and all we can say is ‘if this is God’s plan, than His plan sucks’. When someone tells you ‘it’s all God’s plan’ after your fiance dies in a tragic accident your reaction isn’t ‘oh, well if it’s in God’s plan, than I am fine with this’. NO! What you are thinking in that moment is ‘if this is God’s plan, I don’t want to be part of it anymore, because this plan sucks’.
So, what should we say then? God still is all powerful and all knowing so it seems like it’s still God’s plan isn’t it? Sort of. There is a difference between what God allows and what God wants. I know that sounds counterintuitive so let me give an analogy.
If a mother tells their son to clean his room and despite having the power to force him to do so allows him not to clean his room, the boy is outside of what his mom wants but within what his mom allows. The same has happened with humanity and God. He wants us to live in the perfect, undiseased, perfectly moral world that he placed us in, but we have chosen to live outside of that and he has allowed us to do so.
So when we say to someone ‘it’s all in God’s plan’, we are wrong. It’s not God’s plan, it’s not what he had in mind. He allowed it, and so to that sense yes it is. He allowed it while knowing that this is what would happen but this is not what he desired, he desired us to be people that would freely choose him and as a result these bad things that happen to us now would never have occurred.
Now I realize that brings up a whole slew of other questions like ‘why God would create such a world if he knew, against his want, that it would end up the way it is?’ But for now we aren’t going there. This is the world we are in now so let’s discuss how we should talk about this world.
So knowing we live in this world fallen from God’s desire, we need to stop telling people ‘it’s all in God’s plan’. It’s not. This isn’t the plan. God didn’t desire for this horrible situation to take place. He allowed it. But he didn’t want it. Ironically, I think this brings us to two other statements Christians need to stop saying, ‘God will work this for your good’ and . . .