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Jesus Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life?

June 28, 2011

Last week I was in Calgary and I saw some a group of people feeding homeless persons by the street as I was stopped at a red light. They had a table set up on the sidewalk by city hall, and they were handing out sandwiches and bowls of soup to people who were clearly living on the streets.

What was strange to me however is that one of the persons feeding the homeless people was wearing a shirt that read

Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life

Really? I wonder what the homeless persons in line thought of Jesus’ “plan” for their life? Individualism mixed with a little determinism does not a good philosophy make.

Alzheimer’s: Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life!

Rape: Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life!

Young child with cancer: Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life!

There are probably few ideas worse in Christianity than the idea of the ‘chess-master’ God planning and coordinating every event in your life. It might work as an explanation for certain anecdotal situations, but it fails miserably when trying to consider the broad range of human experiences through history.

What I found even more strange is that it does require a certain amount of sympathy and empathy to meet people where they are at and help them out a little*, but the determinism on display in the guy’s shirt is actually anti-empathy.

Ideas such as “Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life” or “He’s the God who has orchestrated every event in your life” or “On some level everyone gets what they deserve” are not only ignorant but are terribly insensitive. Bad things happen to undeserving people. Understanding this simple concept breeds compassion, empathy, and sympathy: these are the hallmarks of a high-functioning social human being.

Individualism mixed with determinism does not a good philosophy make, and ultimately has little explanatory power for the broad range of human experiences.

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* However, for some people this could also be a religious ‘requirement’ because mad ‘sheep and goats’ Jesus will throw you into the lake of fire if you do not visit prisoners and feed the poor

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2011 6:55 am

    Just another notch on their bible cover? I’ve known people like this. They’ll kill for unborn children but can’t be bothered with starving ones.

  2. Paul D. permalink
    June 28, 2011 7:18 am

    I want a shirt that says “Jesus loves you but planning your life is your own damn responsibility.”

  3. nazani14 permalink
    June 28, 2011 1:18 pm

    I used to hate the Salvation Army, but have tempered my feelings due to the fact that in my community they are about the only people providing shelter, food, and attire for the homeless.

    Atheists really need to step up their charity game, as well as getting involved in projects like literacy and skills training.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy permalink
      July 15, 2011 10:53 am

      Salvation Army was the only charity my father would contribute to. It dates from when he was an 18-year-old sailor in the Pacific in WW2, and Salvation Army canteens were the ones who welcomed him.

  4. WenatcheeTheHatchet permalink
    June 28, 2011 2:10 pm

    I used to work for the Salvation Army. Lost my job two years ago when the recession’s full effects hit my department. The Salvation Army seems like an easy target for people who want to rip on them for being a church on the secular side and on the religious side they get ripped on for being nothing more than “Social Gospel” and ordaining women. They often are the only people in any given region who have the means and will to help people. Depending on where you are they also help with substance abuse issues and rental and utility assistance. Honestly I frequently wish I still worked there.

  5. Glen permalink
    June 29, 2011 9:43 am

    I am a Christian and I have often struggled with this concept. I can say by experience that even though you may pursue knowing God actively, life doesn’t always turn out “wonderful.” I have been horribly betrayed by people I cared about and trusted, left holding the bag containing the consequences of another’s failures. I have endured the pain of parenting my handicapped daughter through her self-abuse, sleepless nights, and extreme mood swings. I have felt the sorrow of not knowing how to help my wife with her depression and anxiety and the frustration of trying to prevent co-dependency. I am leaving out other stuff that Agathos knows.

    Does my life sound wonderful? (yes I know others have it “worse” than me) … I have been asked if I would change it if I went back in time. I would say no, not because I like hurting myself. I haven’t given up on my faith either. I would not change this stuff because I have learned things about myself, about who I want to be and I have found strength in walking this tangled, crooked and narrow path with God and in community with friends. Maybe that is the “wonderful” part?

  6. June 30, 2011 12:28 am

    Well, in good 1st-century fashion I cling to eschatological hope. God’s going to elbow drop the wicked and flying tae kwon do kick suffering.

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy permalink
    July 15, 2011 10:54 am

    What was strange to me however is that one of the persons feeding the homeless people was wearing a shirt that read
    “Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life”

    Anyone remember the Motivational Poster parody with that caption below a painting of Christians being torn apart by lions in a Roman Arena?

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