I have written before about the idea of “Plan B”. This idea is central to my understanding of the Christian life, Christian ethics, and Christian discipleship. In my previous post, I wrote about Plan B and how it impacts my thinking on homosexuality. A lot of people didn’t like the conclusions I came to in that post. But I think that if people are honest, there is no other way to live life than to live in Plan B.
Here is what I mean:
- PLAN A can be described as God’s intended perfect plan for the world. PLAN A existed in Eden, was destroyed by Sin, and will be restored someday with the return of Jesus and the restoration of new heavens and the earth.
- Our broken world is really PLAN B. It is not how things are supposed to be.
- Jesus is victorious over all sin, brokenness and despair. But we will not fully experience this victory, reconciliation and restoration this side of heaven. In other words, the restoration of the Kingdom of God is ALREADY and NOT YET. It is ALREADY achieved, but NOT YET fully realized.
- In the tension of living in the reality of ALREADY & NOT YET is a call to PLAN B.
- PLAN B is simply this: given the cards that we have been dealt, how do we BEST FOLLOW JESUS? In other words, how do we live our lives with integrity (wholeness, from the root idea in the Hebrew of “shalom”) given the reality of brokenness in our own lives and in the world we live?
Simply put: PLAN A is perfect SHALOM — how things are supposed to be.
PLAN B is the reality of living in a broken world, broken shalom — how things are not supposed to be.
Like it or not, we live in PLAN B. It is our only choice. It is our reality.
So the question we must ask, then, is NOW WHAT?
And those that have the courage to ask that question, in the midst of brokenness, are the ones who are truly living out the Christian faith — “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
There are two major objections I hear to this PLAN B theology:
- We shouldn’t surrender to brokenness, but must cling to the hope/vision of SHALOM and Plan A.
- Why must we say that the world is broken at all? God is sovereign and the world we have is as he intends it to be.
To the first group, all I can say is that while their piety is admirable, pious dreaming of pie-in-the-sky victory is neither Christian nor wise. Jesus calls us to live in the reality of the world. Paul admomishes the same thing in his letters. Our prayer and hope is to bring heaven down here (“thy will be done on earth as in heaven”) not to just bring us up to heaven. We recognize that brokenness is real and we must live with it. Someday shalom will be realized, but not yet. To declare “peace, peace” when there is no peace is not faithfulness but folly. So while we cling to the hope of a restored PLAN A, today we must learn to live in the reality of PLAN B.
To the second group, all I can say is that I fear that in your desire to reconciled to the realities of this world you have missed two basic truths: (1) our world is indeed broken; and (2) God longs for it to be fixed. This, indeed, is the underlying narrative of scriptures, Genesis to Revelation. The story really is about the return to Eden. While this stage may be necessary, it is not the end of the story and we shouldn’t pretend that it is.
So what are the implications of this PLAN B theology?
I want to explore that in some future posts, but I think more than anything, it is FREEDOM.
Freedom to pursue God as we are.
Freedom to allow ourselves ro believe that we are loved by God as we are.
Freedom to long for shalom, wholeness, peace, reconciliation.
Freedom to give up the need for perfectionism and all the judgement and guilt that come with it.
Freedom to simply follow Jesus today — as faithfully as you.
Freedom to be.
And I think this kind of freedom is indeed GOOD NEWS.