God has cheated you out of what is rightfully yours! And, God’s way is unnecessarily hard! These are the primal temptations that targeted the first humans and the FINAL HUMAN. They continue to target us, and often undo us.
God has cheated you or God denies you what is really best for you. God doesn’t want what is good for you. Why? Because God would be threatened if you actually became more than you are now, more than he wants you to be. Because God does not really want to share all the good he has at his disposal. Because God likes to be God—to control things, but is unwilling to be there for you, to have your back, and to guarantee that everything turns out good for you. Because God wants all the credit and glory for being God but will not “earn” it by working hard for you. Because God keeps secrets and refuses to disclose fully all that he’s up to. And, because, while God has given you much, there is more, you know there’s more, and that God does not want to give.
The first humans bought the lie and bit the fruit. God remained God, but they became less than they were before. They became fearful, shamed, anxious, divided, alone, estranged from each other and from everything else. Brokenness, blindness and bondage followed. The lie broke them and they bequeathed their brokenness to their children and all the generations that followed.
This is the human story—regardless of where we live, who parented us, what we have or have not done, what has been or has not been done to us, what we have or lack, and any of the many of other things that might distinguish us from others.
The common human story reveals the lie. If the primal slander against God were true, why has the story unfolded with such woe? Why haven’t we written a better ending? Why hasn’t the human family upgraded itself to the greater good God seeks to deny us?
Incredibly, the usual answers simply replay the original, primal lies—because God doesn’t … God won’t … God knows …, and on and on.
God’s answer is Jesus, God’s own, ultimate expression of self-giving. Not only did God give in seminal form all the good available to the human family in the very beginning, and not only did God make us to be so much more than we could ever even imagine, much less fashion on our own, and not only was even his one prohibition actually in our best interest not his—not only all these things, but when we messed it all up at God’s expense, God demonstrated what’s truly in God’s heart by giving God’s own self. So that, with one of Jesus’ first followers, we might see that if God gave Jesus and thus did not spare even God’s own self, how could we imagine that God would withhold from his beloved people anything that serves their ultimate good?
God’s answer is Jesus. God’s way of setting the human story back on track is Jesus. Consider Jesus. There … is God! Many of us just have to say, “You can trust a God like that! Maybe you can’t understand everything, but you can trust his indisputable self-giving for no good other than ours!”
But now, listen to a word of caution about the other primal temptation. The Tempter suggested to Jesus that God’s way was too hard, too painful, and unnecessarily complicated. The Tempter said, “There are better ways to get to the same goal! Fall on your face and worship me, and it will be ‘Kingdom Come!’”
Jesus, the final, ultimate Human, didn’t buy the lie. He trusted God’s heart and God’s wisdom. He took up his cross, denied self, and went to the place of the skull. He said, “Not my will, but Yours!” He said it so that on Friday he could assert, “It is finished!” and Sunday could show that death itself was finished, in that now empty tomb.
Jesus pursued God’s way to death, then through death, and then to LIFE, not only so the human family could come alive, but also to show the way—the only way—for us to get there. We follow Jesus. Followers of Jesus follow. The Church, as earnest followers after Jesus, follows Jesus. We follow Jesus in trusting God’s heart and God’s wisdom. We follow Jesus in dying to all that is false, including the false self we once thought was the true self and the false way that once felt like the only way we could be. We follow to the death, so that we may follow to life that is truly life!
We follow as he continues his mission of remaking everything on the strength of his loving self-giving, a sacrifice that we learn to share for no other good than the good of others, which we discover turns out to be good for us as well.
And, all for the glory of God.