All Posts Tagged: Adam

ADVENT – Why Jesus Came II

 

 

 

 

 

 


We’ve all said or heard these words. They seem to be an expression of deep humility and self-deprecation. In truth, however, the statement is an assertion that imperfection is a central ingredient of human-ness. This equivalence discredits the entire work of the Father. 

 

Only two human beings have walked the earth: the First Adam (Genesis 2:20) and the Second Adam. (1 Corinthians 15:45) The Father created “humans” according to a specific design: “God created humans in his own image. He created them to be like himself.  (Genesis 1:27)

Sadly, the Creator’s blueprint was slashed, eventuating in the disfigurement of humankind. It was like spiritual Alzheimer’s, the image of God disappeared; but the loss was instantaneous. By way of rebellion and disobedience the first Adam forfeited his human state. Adam and his descendants have become SUBHUMAN. 


Of course, the Father of Lies (
John 8:44) was and is a major actor in this catastrophe. ” His primary strategy is deception. … “I’m not perfect, I’m only human.”

I am … the Truth….” (John 14:6) Jesus came not only to display and demonstrate the character of God; he also came to display and demonstrate the design of the Creator; that is, an authentic human being. At Jesus’ trial Pilate uttered words these words: “Behold the man!” (John 19:5) Pilate was clueless about the deep meaning of his words. “Here’s an authentic human

What’s required to experience life as an authentic human? Richard Rohr writes: “Surrender is not ‘giving up‘, as we tend to think, nearly as much as it is a ‘giving to‘. AA’s third step captures the essence of surrender: “Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God...”  “You have begun life as the new man, who is out to learn what he ought to be, according to the plan of God.(Colossians 3:8)

I’m not perfect, I’m only human.” Imperfection is completely antithetical to human-ness! Jesus is proof positive!

 

Easter Impact – Part 4

But thanks be to God, who keeps giving us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!

1 Corinthians 15:57


The impact of EASTER is Energy.

The impact of EASTER is Attitude.

The impact of EASTER is Success!


SUCCESS
! Millions of books have been sold on this subject. For example, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill has sold over 70 million copies since 1928. Peter Kreeft once made a humorous comment about the plethora of books on sex. “
The fact that there are thousands of ‘how to do it’ books on the subject does not mean that we know how; in fact, it means the opposite. It’s when everybody’s pipes are leaking that people buy books on plumbing!” This, I believe, is the reality about topic of success.

Everybody wants to know how to do success‘. However, success is not primarily about DOING! According to Jesus it’s about BEING!” “Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way to your true self. What good would it DO to get everything you want and lose YOU, the real you?” (Mark 8:34-37) In other words, in the process of doing the secrets of success one can lose one’s real self. Elvis Presley, Whitney Houstin, Prince, Robin Williams, Cobain, Eastman, Van Gogh, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Virginia Woolf, and my friend – the list is endless …  creatively successful people who “cashed it in”! I shall attempt no commentary except to say this: in all their DOING they didn’t find peace with their BEING. If that seems simplistic to you, take it from one who knows.

John Calvin described this world as a theatrum gloriae, a “dazzling theater” displaying God’s glorious works. Viewing the following exhibits in the Creator’s theater, ask yourself: how are these successful? If this is below your “pay grade”, you have my sympathy.


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Of course, I know they are JUST fish! That’s the point. Though they are subhuman, each in their extravagant BEING-NESS is a display of God’s handiwork. As such, each is victorious. Each is a SUCCESS! They ARE what the Creator intended them TO BE in his theater. 

Research has shown exactly what Jesus said. You can gain the whole world and lose YOUR-SELF! Merely DOING is a DEAD-end! Success (victory) is only found in uncovering who you ARE according to the Creator’s design. There is no greater expression of this than in Michelangelo’s graphic representation of the creation of Adam.

Easter means that the Creator is severely intent on resurrecting a new you built upon His original design. Short of that everything is but “smoke and fire” or, as Solomon said, “Emptiness!”

Look at the fish again. I’m absolutely serious! Have you discovered that YOU, not what you DO, are a masterpiece in the Creator’s theater? Easter success (victory) is to be discovered by uncovering the YOU that is available by virtue of Jesus’ resurrection.

Have you experienced the touch of the Creator’s finger on your life? It’s nothing less than the power of the resurrection? “The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make a brand-new creation.” (Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God )

OK, a point of transparency! This is THE struggle of my 74 year old life! 

Monster of life—delusion

They sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths. The man and his wife took cover among the trees and hid from the God. (Genesis 3:7-8)

This is part three in our Monster of Life series. Check out the first two posts: Disconnection and Disease.

Self-improvement represents a $10 billion per year industry in the U.S. alone. The New Statesman’s Barbara Gunnell forecasts a secure future for positive psychology, noting that ‘never has an age been so certain that it deserves not just freedom from distress, but positive well-being’” (Matthew Gilbert, in Self-Help Books and The Promise of Change).

Satan’s success produced dis-ease in humankind. A primary symptom of the ailment is delusion—“The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands” (Martin Luther). This belief is lifted from the Monster’s playbook: “How you’ve fallen O morning star, son of the dawn! Remember how you thought: ‘I will make myself like the Most High’”? (Isaiah 14:14)

Genesis 3 reveals SELF-HELP to be the default setting of dis-eased humanity! After disconnecting from their Creator, Adam and Eve immediately attempt to heal their dis-ease. The therapy is covering and hiding: “Many of us strive to ‘fix our sin.’ We try to hide it and pretend like it isn’t there. But this only leads to more hiding, pretending and despair” (Bill Thrall, in TrueFaced). This is the delusion: the belief that hiding is an adequate remedy for dis-ease—that hiding can produce healing! Charles Spurgeon said, “The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.”

The ancient Greeks loved their theater. But the immensity of their amphitheaters made it impossible for many to see the actors’ faces. So, some director came up with the idea of having the actors deliver their lines from behind giant masks. The mask was always a caricature—an overdone, generalized, or idealized portrayal of the character. The actors played their roles behind a façade. The performers were called ‘hypocrites’ (literally ‘one who wears a mask’) rather than actors. We are all performers, and like the actors in ancient Greece, we don’t show our true faces. Because of sin, we’ve lost confidence that we can please the audience, so we feel compelled to hide and put on a mask. We have dozens of masks in our wardrobes!” (Thrall)

A simple illustration reveals the preposterous nature of our self-help therapy. In Hospice, morphine is often administered to terminally ill patients experiencing excruciating pain. Morphine acts directly on the central nervous system to decrease the feeling of pain. Notice: Morphine does nothing to address the source of the pain; rather, it merely hides the pain from the brain. So-called “pain killers” are a delusion!

Jesus showed the disciples his hands and feet” (Luke 24:40). “We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not, ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our wounded-ness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers”  (Henri Nouwen).

Snapshots of the Cross in the Old Testament—the curtain

Whereas the whole earth was given to humankind to inhabit and rule (Genesis 1:28), the Garden of Eden was specifically designed as a Meeting Place for God and man. “The truth is clearly set forth that Life comes from God, that for man Life consists in nearness to God and that it is the central concern of God’s fellowship with man to impart Life” (Geerhardus Vos).

The Creator’s plan was diverted. Disobedience produced disconnection. Fellowship was fractured. Consequently, “God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life.”

tabernacleFortunately, the story didn’t end there. After God delivered His people from 430 years of Egyptian bondage He gave this order: “Let them make a Dwelling Place for Me, so I may live among them. Make the meeting tent like the plans I will show you.” The design called for three sections oriented to the east: the Courtyard, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, the latter two separated by an ornate curtain. “Make a curtain of blue, purple, and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. Have a design of angel-cherubim woven into it by a skilled craftsman” (Exodus 26:3-33).

Did you catch it? Just as at Eden angel-cherubim guarded the eastern entrance (the curtain) to the place of God’s Presence, the Holy of Holies. So, how would disconnected humankind be able to have face to face fellowship with God? How was God able to have a Dwelling Place in the midst of disobedient traitors? It seems as if God changed His standards!

arkOnce a year on the Day of Atonement (see last Lenten post) the High Priest entered God’s Dwelling Place with the blood of a slaughtered lamb. The High Priest walked around the throne (i.e. the Mercy Seat) of God’s Presence seven times, sprinkling blood on it as he moved. So, for a brief period the High Priest had fellowship with God because of the blood. God and sinful man were ONE through the blood. OOPS! Don’t forget this: The High Priest bore on his shoulders and over his heart the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. One might say that the entire nation was in long distance fellowship with God during that period.

Centuries later the real Lamb of God was dragged to Calvary to be slaughtered. As His blood oozed out, His life was depleted. Finally, Jesus said, “It is finished!” After that “the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom” (Matthew 27:50-52). Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the Most Holy Place. Jesus has opened a new and living way for us to go through the curtain, His own body” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

The door is open! Just walk into Father’s Presence via the blood of the Lamb of God!

Monster of life—dis-ease

Jesus healed many to make come true what the prophet Isaiah had said, “He Himself took our sickness and carried away our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17)

Satan’s goal is DISCONNECTION from our Creator.
He employs DECEPTION to accomplish this end.
The result is DIS-EASE!

 

Disease,” a word of English and French derivation, has two parts: “dis and “ease.Dismeans “apart,” “away from,” or “a negative or reversing force.” “Ease” means “comfort, pleasure, well-being, tranquility.” William Councilman, an American pathologist, captured the point: “Disease may…be thought of as the negation of the normal.”

Remember—“LIVE” spelled backwards is “EVIL”! Sin is a reversing force that drives us away from NORMAL. Cancer provides a vivid illustration. “Cancer is a disease of cells, the basic building blocks of our bodies. Their lives and behavior are controlled by genetic instructions that are present in every cell of the body. Those instructions tell our cells when and how to grow, reproduce and die. If those instructions get garbled, a cell might behave in an uncontrolled way. When that happens, we call it cancer” (American Institute for Cancer Research).

Satan employed deception to “garble the instructions” of the Creator. “The serpent (satan) said to the woman, ‘Is it true that God has forbidden you to eat fruits from the trees of the garden?’ The woman answered, ‘No, serpent. God said we are free to eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. We are granted access to any variety and all amounts of fruit with one exception: the fruit from the tree found in the center of the garden. God instructed us not to eat or touch the fruit of that tree or we would die.’ The serpent responded, ‘Die? No, you’ll not die. God is playing games with you. The truth is that God knows the day you eat the fruit from that tree you will awaken something powerful in you and become like Him.’  The woman approached the tree, eyed its fruit, and coveted its mouth-watering, wisdom-granting beauty. She plucked a fruit from the tree and ate. She then offered the fruit to her husband and he ate as well. Suddenly their eyes were opened to a reality previously unknown. For the first time, they sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths” (Genesis 3:1-10).

Plato was right: “Sin is disease.” Adam and Eve became DIS-EASED because their disobedience reversed and negated the Creator’s instructions for normalcy! They immediately sensed the vacuum. Of this St. Augustine said: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” Similarly, Meister Eckhart described our state as “unceasing restlessness.”

Sadly, this disease is 100% genetically transmitted! “Everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence” (Romans 3:23). Without the right medicine we are a doomed species. Fortunately, Jesus came to deliver the Medicine of Life. “Jesus healed many to fulfill what the prophet Isaiah had said, ‘He Himself took our sickness and carried away our diseases.’”