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Orbiting God

• Greg Boyd

The story of the fall of Adam and Eve tells us what it means to lose the true center of life, and how when we orbit around a false center we are trapped in the perpetual judgement of others.

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The only thing that keeps us from disaster, individually, collectively and even globally is being anchored in a strong center, as is illustrated in the poem “The Second Coming”  by William Butler Yeats. Societies survive and thrive only when there are shared beliefs, convictions, narratives, and trusted institutions and sources of information at the center of their society. To the degree a society has lost this center it is diseased and it will experience escalating conflict.

As God’s society, his holy people, we were meant to orbit God, to look to God for our ultimate source of life, worth, significance, security and peace. In doing this, each of us becomes a unique complementary center where we uniquely reflect the loving, beautiful character of God. God creates us humans to receive and reflect to others and to the whole creation God’s beautiful shalom.

The story of Adam and Eve tells us how we lost our center. In the Garden, there were two trees, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The first represented God’s provision and the second God’s prohibition. Life in Eden orbits around the center of trusting God to provide your fullness of life and honoring God’s prohibition. We are to look to God’s love to be our source of life, love, worth, security and peace, and we are to leave all judging to God.

Adam and Eve stopped trusting God to be their source of life and therefore violated God’s prohibition. When they ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they placed themselves in the center. Listening to the voice of the enemy, they were trying to be “wise like God.” They were trying to be their own source center. This is what the serpent’s lie was all about.

When we fail to get our life from the true source, we live life as though everything revolves around us. We no longer orbit God. We think, “I’m in a position to approve or disapprove of anything and anyone, depending on whether they please me or not.” We tend to judge good and evil based on whether or not someone or something benefits me and meets with my approval.

There is a general and pervasive peace that you can have when you intentionally make God the source center of your life. So much of our striving, anxiety, fatigue and anger is the result of clinging to our possessions, reputation, social standing, achievements, good looks, opinions and prejudices. We cling to these idols because we hunger to feel special, significant and secure. But we only experience the feeling of significance and security when we place God at the center and receive all of our life from Him.

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Topics: Judgment, Love

Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, Cross Examination


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The MuseCast: July 12


Focus Scripture:

  • Genesis 3:1-7

    Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’ ” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

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2 thoughts on “Orbiting God

  1. Matthew says:

    In order for me to be actively involved in this crazy and uncertain world we are living in, I need to do two things. First, I need to love all people and recognize in all people their infinite worth as given to them by Jesus Christ. Second, I need to make wise judgments about what policies I must reject or support, about what ideas I must embrace or jettison, and about what direction I want America and the rest of the world to take. I need to do all this without being judgmental or unloving all the while keeping Christ as the center around which I orbit. May it be so. Lord have mercy.

  2. Tim says:

    Really useful analogy, God being at the center of our lives like a planet orbiting the son (deliberate). When we judge we put ourselves in the the center. Thanks!

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