Where In the World?
Where in the world did the phrase – the better plan – come from? And why was it chosen as the name for this blog?
Good questions, both. So lets get to the first one. Here is the passage “the better plan” comes from –
Those who train their pupils to feel that the power lies in themselves to become men and women of honor and usefulness, will be the most permanently successful. Their work may not appear to the best advantage to careless observers, and their labor may not be valued so highly as that of the instructor who holds absolute control, but the after-life of the pupils will show the results of the better plan of education. Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 57
As to why I chose “the better plan” as the name for the blog, I think it has to do with the Three Remarkables that can be found in the passage
The phrase was actually first written in 1872, and its author stuck with the theme of this passage through the turn of the century until her death in 1915. The passage is remarkable because of what she said – that schools should be focusing on the power that lies within students – and when she said it – at the start of the Industrial Revolution and its massive influence on the way schools operated. This internal power had everything to do with choice, freedom, and responsibility. The passage was emphasizing choice and freedom at a time when schools were becoming like factories, with an emphasis on external control.
The passage presents the reality that teachers who introduce their students to the power that lies within themselves – in other words, internal control – rather than focusing on controlling them through external control, will be misunderstood and under-appreciated. Careless observers will not get it. Traditionalists will cling to external control as the answer. It is amazing that over 100 years after it was first written the passage is still timely today.
The passage was written by a religious author, who we might assume would be part of the traditionalist, external control, “make em do what we want em to do” scheme of things. However the author wasn’t like that at all. She saw the need for and value of students coming into an understanding of their choice power. And she saw the importance of this being an inside-out process, rather than outside-in. In her opinion this process was so important that she equated “the better plan” with connecting students to a healthier after-life, including the best after-life of all – that being the forever life of life eternal.
These are some of the reasons I like the phrase “the better plan” so much. It’s all about choice and freedom.
Ellen White, the author of the better plan phrase, and the author who wrote about the special power that students have within themselves, consistently emphasized that humankind is powerless without Jesus. Through Him, she wrote time and time again, all things are possible, without Him nothing is possible. He created human beings to have the power of choice and to be free. Nothing indicates our having been created in Jesus’ image as much as this incredible freedom to act and to do and to be. And it was this freedom that He died on the Cross to preserve. Satan likes nothing better than to deface a person’s power to choose; he likes nothing better than to trap and addict and imprison. But Jesus came to earth to do a couple of incredible things –
1 – He came to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8
2 – He came to set the captives free. Luke 4:18
Now that’s an awesome Better Plan!
Just a reminder to keep the calendar dates on the left of the page in mind, especially the Soul Shaper dates in June.
It is not optional. It is not “a better plan.” It is “the better plan.” I could not agree more.
What I disagree with is your statement that “humankind is powerless without Jesus” and “without Him nothing is possible.” I know people who do not believe in Jesus Christ that demonstrate choice and responsibility. They appear to have the same power you talk about. And they accomplish great things that help people. Do not say to them that “without Him nothing is possible.” That is disrespectful to kind and generous people who are not Christian. Or might it be that they have the principles of Jesus incorporated in their lives without knowing they are the principles of the teachings of Jesus. It appears to me that the principles of Jesus when acted upon by humankind bring the fruits or blessings of following the principles of Jesus. Let us give more thought and study to what it means to be “powerless without Jesus.”
Thank you for clarifying this. I would never want to offend in this way or to in any way be insensitive to non-Christians who are making a positive impact on the world. I may need to change my wording if that is being conveyed.
My belief is that the Spirit of Jesus is a very real presence and force that blankets the earth and that He is involved in the lives of every person on the planet. As Christians we might have a small awareness of His presence and His involvement, but Christian or not, I don’t think any of us realize the real extent of the impact of His involvement. I believe His Spirit is tugging at every person on the planet to be better, to be loving, to be more patient, to care more. When a husband or wife decides to work on their marriage, rather than throw in the towel, the Spirit has beeb nudging them toward this willingness. When we take a moment to talk with a homeless person and convey to them our care for them, as well as giving them some food, clothing, or money, we are responding to the Spirit’s prompting.
It’s interesting that there is a passage in Scripture in which people who are welcomed into eternal life are incredulous at how they may have qualified to get there. They may have fed the hungry, visited those in prison, clothed those in need, but when did they do anything for Jesus? It sounds like they may have not even known Him. Yet Jesus says that when you did these things for the marginalized you were, in fact, “doing it to Me.”
I am of this belief that both physical and spiritual rain fall on all of us, regardless of our knowledge of God and regardless of our behavior, as screwed up as it gets sometimes. When good happens, He is involved. When a person who doesn’t believe in God does an altruistic act for someone else, he or she is responding to the nudges of the very God who s/he is certain doesn’t exist.
What am I saying? God’s love is not limited by my lack of knowing Him, or anybody else’s lack of knowing Him. He knows each one of us and He wants us to thrive.
I appreciate your clarification, Jim. I believe it represents more clearly your inclusive thinking toward all humankind. I too believe that God’s Spirit is present in all and is “leading” people to an understanding of His principles as represented in the “fruit of the Spirit” and the Sermon on the Mount. May choice, responsibility and kindness continue to be our mission.