The greatest, long-standing challenge for God from Adam’s Fall in restoring us to Him is not sin. That was decisively dealt a final blow on the Cross of Calvary. No, His greatest challenge throughout all history from Adam until now has been our distorted view of Him. Because when we have a clear view of Him, sin is easily overcome. And, in knowing His true intentions for us, we find intimate love, purpose, identity and real freedom. But you see, it’s these distortions that we have about God that keeps us from coming to Him and experiencing these things, whether we are a believer or not.
The fear and anxiety borne out of Adam’s infectious disease contracted by believing Satan’s lies about God is where it all began. As C.Baxter Kruger points out in “Jesus and the Undoing of Adam”…“The actual Fall came before they ate the fruit. They fell when they stopped believing the truth and believed the lie of the serpent.” More from this book in a moment.
With Adam and Eve’s fall into deception and distrust, they became orphans, separated from the Father’s heart, driven instead by insecurities and fears, and viewing God’s intentions through this murky lens. And ever since, mankind has been crafting a god out of their own imaginations. For when you don’t know the real thing, you’re compelled to make something up. In other words, an unknown God is one we make in our own image.
Ancient Greeks and Roman imaginations created moody, self-serving, sexually deviant, and mostly indifferent gods. Likewise, if we’re feeling disconnected and unloved, we will create a distant and uncaring god. Those who need control out of distrust will create a legalistic god of rules to follow. If we hate, a hateful god. If we feel shame and guilt, a judgmental god. If we feel rejected, a god who rejects us whenever we’re not performing at some illusive, immeasurable standard we’ve set for ourselves. Nothing much has changed there, and some of this seeps into our theology and teaching.
C. Baxter Kruger hits the nail on the…well, you know…in his extraordinary work, “Jesus and the Undoing of Adam” (bold text added for emphasis)…
“The deepest problem of sin for Adam and Eve was that now the very presence of God filled them with dread….So they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. We have been hiding ever since….But even here, we have not come to the core problem of the Fall of Adam…The unbearable agony of such an exposure is one thing: it’s quite another when that pain colors the way we see God. Adam’s pain inevitably altered his understanding and the way he saw himself, his world and others, but most importantly, it altered the way He saw God. Adam projected his own brokenness, as it were, onto God’s face….For now there is a great ugly ditch between who God actually is and who Adam believes God is. From this moment forward, the truth about God will be veiled, His face will continually tarred with the wrong brush, and His heart will be misunderstood. His every word and act and intention will be translated through the wrongheadedness of human anxiety and projection.” C. Baxter Kruger “Jesus and the Undoing of Adam” (loc.306-316 Kindle version)
Now there’s our truth and there’s the Truth. What’s the difference? One is subjective, the other is objective. It’s been said that we don’t live according to reality, we live according to our perception of reality. We believed what our parents and other people told us about God and who we are, what our experiences taught us, through our wounds, anxieties and insecurities more than we would like to admit. Everything is interpreted through this lens. And if our lens is distorted, everything we see and understand about truth is distorted.
To say that God is love (1 Jn.4:8) is to see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in constant, intimate communion. It means that He is about relationships. And we were created to join in this relationship. And because of this, Love would not be thwarted from this goal, so He cooked up a plan for our reconciliation, even before the world began (Rev.13:8).
So God began His own public image restoration campaign by first forging a covenantal relationship with fallen man through types and shadows and through His prophets of old. This led to fleeting glimpses by a few who dared peer into this Sacred unknown, but it was mostly an exercise in frustration…for Him…for many centuries. That is, until Jesus came on the scene, who walked in grace and truth, who came to remove this infectious distortion passed on through the Adamic DNA. Man, for the first time, was actually able to see what God was actually like, in the flesh, in His truest nature. The writer of Hebrews said this about it…
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person…” (Heb.1:1-3)
So Jesus came in grace and truth, not in the types and shadows of the Law and Prophets, for He is the Truth (Jn.1:14, 17; 14;6). He came to move us out of our distorted perception of God into the reality of God by living it out before us. When we saw Him we saw an accurate representation of the Father’s will on earth. When He healed the sick, made the crippled walk, the blind to see, dead children raised to life and returned to their grieving parents, when He fed the multitudes lost without a shepherd, showed compassion to the broken, gave value to those the world treats as trash, set free those held by Satan’s oppression, He was showing them, and us, how God feels about these things. And it was compelling because it came without religious manipulation or relational dysfunction.
And to know God in reality is to find the Truth, and to find the Truth is to find love, joy and freedom…and to enter into His abounding life (Jn.8:31-32;10:10; 17:3). And when we receive Him by faith, God can now relate to us as He originally intended, not fallen and separated, but as a new creation (2 Cor.5:17-21), as a beloved son and co-heir in His family in heaven and on the earth (Eph.3:14-15).
So, what does this all mean to us? It means that freedom and life comes by removing the distortions we have about God. The only reason we hide from God is because we have a wrong view of Him. I think it was Bernard of Clairvaux who pointed out to us that the only reason anyone doesn’t love God is because they don’t know Him. So, it has everything to do with our worship experience and our relationship with Him and others.
And removing the distortions about God and Truth is called renewing our mind.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….” (Rom.12:2)
In other words, don’t conform to the distortions we’ve inherited about God and ourselves by those who have infected Adamic DNA. Let the Spirit reveal God in reality so we can see clearly. Again, Truth is freedom. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is always freedom (2 Cor.3:17).
But it doesn’t end there…or should I say, end with our transformation. Paul continues…
…that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom.12:2)
What are we to prove? Paul is saying that our mission is to “prove” that God’s will for all of us is perfect, good and acceptable. In other words, when the distortions about God are removed, we see that He always has our highest good in mind in everything He does, and that we would want to exactly what He intends for us, which is the most satisfying life, the most fulfilling purpose, the fullest of joy, experiencing the greatest of pleasures, and living in the warmest embrace of love. That’s what we’re to prove.
How do we do this? Well, when people saw Jesus, they saw the Father’s heart. They saw it in His actions and in how He connected with them. And Jesus told us that as the Father sent Him, He is sending us (Jn.14:7; 20:21).
So the goal is to not only believe in Jesus, but to believe like Jesus (Eph.4:12-15), becoming a better and better reflection of our Good and Perfect Father in Heaven while on this earth. Amen.