Monday, December 07, 2009

That Great Tree's Gift to Humanity

I watched the movie The Messenger, which tells the story of Joan of Arc. While I recognize that stylistic dramatization was utilized, and accounts were doctored to better tell the moviemaker's story, I was struck by one scene in particular and started a thought that seems profound.

The scene was of Joan's imprisonment by the English church. The apparition played by Dustin Hoffman commented of Joan's visions, questioning the interpretation of the message, accusing her of simply reading into them what she wanted; doubt whether God intended her to lead an army against the British was established.

This idea reminded me of the account of Adam and Eve. Just how perceptive have we become after partaking of the fruit?

Here is my thought: What if what we obtained from the fruit was not discriminating knowledge between good and evil, but simply the awareness of such things.

Those two partook and realized they were naked. Awareness of wrong occurred. They experienced shame from their nakedness. What if they did not acquire specific knowledge of the need for modesty? Who's to say that is evil? We impose perversion on nakedness because we associate it with sex. But baby and infants are unaware of their nakedness. If they are in Adam, would they not from conception feel that same shame?

I propose that the knowledge of good and evil we obtained is indistinguishable. The reason Adam and Eve covered themselves was because they became self aware and exposed. Covering was more an instinctual, subconscious response to the awareness of evil, now aware of evil's presence and existence, now aware - rather, fixated - on the self, and so felt a vulnerability. Exactly here is where perception and reality meet. We think we really do hold God's power of determining good and evil, by individually deeming things good or bad according to our preference, but that is an illusion. With the collection of humanity deeming things right or wrong, divorced from objectivity, the degrees of variation become deafening.

Why am I making such a fuss in dismantling sin's original effect? If we had true, objective, absolute, distinguishing knowledge of good versus evil, would we not be able to judge which doctrines are evil and destructive and which are of God and live-giving?

The way I see it, the knowledge of good and evil from that Great Tree did not make us at all like God; we just think we are like Him, lying to ourselves. The serpent told a bold-faced lie when he said that we surely wouldn't die, for we had died. We took our focused priority off God and placed it on ourselves. God was our life source; still is. Now, we turn our focus inward, toward the self, thinking erroneously that the gods we see in ourselves are sufficient for life.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that a faith in Christ that does not take this aspect into account is an inadequate faith. Are we as Christians so ineffective because we don't allow God to become our focus? We, as a whole, are human-centered Christians who see God as a means, not the end. Our eyes never leave either the self or others around us. Is not salvation defined as this: "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3, NASB) or “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7, NASB)? Intimately knowing our God is of the utmost concern, yet we have no hunger for Him; our hunger is for what we can get from Him, still, with our focus fixed on the self. This is a lordship issue. We dismiss the reality of Jesus' lordship, thinking it is optional or insignificant facet of the faith compared to the worth of our comfort and control.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Forget the self, and what you perceive is a need, and forsake your hunger for things, people, anything that is not the Triune God. Rest completely in the person of God, and see if you come away in want. Make Him Lord. Dare not dismiss the thought that God may be more significant inherently than yourself, for this surely seems to be what it is all about.