Greg has been focusing our attention on the centrality of love as the heartbeat of all reality. Today’s sermon will continue to address the question, “What went wrong?”
Greg has been focusing our attention on the centrality of love as the heartbeat of all reality. Today’s sermon will continue to address the question of “What went wrong?” As we know, there were two trees in the Garden of Eden that get special recognition: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The first tree represents the promises of God to provide for our every need. The second tree represents a boundary between God and us. It is a “no trespassing” sign that has our best interest in mind. God wants to protect us from a danger that we are not prepared to handle. That danger is “judgment” which is God’s alone. So long as we sustain ourselves from the first tree and not the second, all will go well. But we were deceived into eating of the second tree: this is “the fall.” But how could Adam and Eve, who had everything provided for them, be tricked into eating of the wrong tree? By the same technique that many current advertisements take advantage of: make people believe they have a desperate need for something that they don’t already have. “Sin” is our believing the lie that we need something other than God to have life to the full. This lie involves a falsehood both about God and about ourselves. The first falsehood is that God is not sufficient to provide for us in every way. The second is that we can get life from something other than God alone. We believed the serpent when he suggested that our eyes were closed (Gen. 3:1-4) and that if we opened them (by disobeying God) we would become like God. Like some advertisements, this “need” the serpent was pointing to was not a real need at all. We already had the image of God! We already had God’s provision for our every want and desire! But we lacked faith in the provision of God when it was called into question; we sinned. Not only that, we presumed to become like God in doing so. But God provided yet again. God made a way for us to be freed of the lie we believed about God by revealing God’s true character in Jesus Christ. By this true picture of who God is (Christ) we can be restored to depending on God for love once again, and thankfully, this entails giving up the work of judging which was never in our job descriptions. In short, because of Christ, we now have a choice to make about our identity. We can either live life “in Christ” or “in the flesh.” In Christ, we live in the truth whereas in the flesh, we go on living in the lie and trying to get life according to the lie.
In Christ, life is characterized by “you are” statements (emphasis on “being”). Who you are is recognized to be more important than what you do. Life is an expression of who you are in Christ. Because you act out of fullness, there is rest, peace and joy. Life is a matter of Grace: it has been given to you for free. You are free to love God, yourself and your neighbor as you were intended to do. You CAN love freely because you are not relying on others to fill you, you are full already. Life is a celebration of who God has made you to be! You experience and communicate unconditional love. This life is illustrated in the first image below.
In the flesh, all the opposites are true. Life is characterized by “must do” statements (emphasis on “doing”). Self-worth depends upon activities, achievements, etc. rather than who you are and who created you for what reason. You operate out of an emptiness, a need which controls you. Actions in life are motivated by a deficit, hunger, guilt, etc. There is no real rest, no enduring peace, no ever-present joy. Life is a matter of Works. Everything you pursue ends up controlling and dominating you. Even when you get what you want, it feels like bondage rather than freedom. Things never seem to meet the need, satisfy the hunger, or alleviate the guilt. From this position one cannot love freely because we are working too hard to get life from our environment to be able to truly invest in it freely and graciously. Life is lived out of desperation over who you are trying to be. Unconditional love is not received nor expressed for we are too busy judging ourselves and others to see the futility of our activities.
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