Posted by: admin on Sat, Apr 9, 2011
I Am Man
March 29, 2011
By David, Michael, and Ron Schwartz
Imagine a business so poorly run that its competition always wins. No matter the promotions or marketing, the rivalry is always more profitable and controls greater market-share. Imagine that the owner of the business is so clueless compared to the cunning resilience of the competition that, in the end, facing certain bankruptcy, he gives up everything just to stay afloat. In our entrepreneurial Western culture, we would most certainly call this business owner negligent and irresponsible, and yet this is exactly how most Christians explain the actions of God.
At first glance, the Bible seems to be an account of how Satan outwitted God, who was then forced to surrender His only Son just to correct His mistake. How is it that that God could reveal the future to Daniel in such unbelievable detail, leading many Bible scholars to insist his book to be fraudulent, and yet not have foreseen the deception of Eve by Satan? Is it possible that the fall of mankind was the one part of the future God simply overlooked? If God is truly omniscient, surely He must have known that Satan would deceive Eve, that mankind would fall into sin, and that nearly all of His creation would be condemned. Unless you believe that God simply didn’t care about the spiritual death of mankind and the suffering of His Son, one can only conclude that there is more to this story than meets the eye.
There cannot be any alternative: God must have known of all these events before He ever made Adam. He must have known that mankind would fall. Everything that has taken place from the fall of mankind to the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was all part of a beautiful master plan. Mankind cannot simply be an afterthought. Surely, the suffering of mankind isn’t just the result of a sadistic game played by bored God. Surely, there is a meaning and purpose to our existence that transcends traditional thought.
If we follow contemporary theology, God really has no plan. God is essentially an eccentric billionaire who built a city and then created a game show maze for contestants to wander through. Anyone who finds their way through the maze gets to live in His city, and the losers die a very painful and horrible death. Christians view their temptations and suffering as qualifiers for the ultimate game show prize: a mansion in a city with literal streets of gold. I can see it now! “Ron Schwartz, come on down! Look at these fabulous gifts waiting for you! Do you want to give up your life for what’s behind door number three?” To most Christians, life is nothing more than the means to “win” untold treasures in paradise.
So what’s wrong with this attitude? “Attitude” is what’s wrong. By focusing on their “eternal purpose,” Christians have dissociated themselves from this world. Modern Christian theology has created a self-centered and narcissistic outlook diametrically opposed to everything that Jesus taught, so it’s no surprise that many Christians likewise see in God’s plan the same selfish and narcissistic rationale systemic to their beliefs and doctrine. Their lives become all about them and their obsession with their Christian pleasures. They pour only what effort is required into their game, and then only as it benefits them: their church, church meetings, special conferences, and Christian media that lift their spirit up are all selected from a cafeteria plan of goodies.
But what if there is a higher purpose for our existence – one that isn’t readily apparent? What if there is much more hanging in the balance then whether or not we win a mansion? What if the stakes are so extraordinarily high that it’s not just the souls of mankind that are at stake but also God’s very kingdom?
What if the dispensation in which we live began long before mankind was ever created? What if everything about our existence is based on events that followed the rebellion of Satan long ago, and his pursuing trial that followed? What if our existence were based on a challenge by Satan? What if he argued in his own defense that if not for the fear of God’s power (evident to all of heaven), the heavenly host would follow Satan’s self-serving example and rebel against God. He would have obviously pointed out that every heavenly host was nothing more than a slave imprisoned to God just as he. Perhaps he claimed that no being, when given “a choice,” would choose to serve God, and that his rebellion was nothing more than standing up for the poor oppressed angles. Consequently, he being the representative for the heavenly hosts was therefore the “true” king of heaven. God must step down.
How could God answer such a challenge? If it is true that the angels served out of fear then obviously they would be afraid to admit that Satan is right. What if the only way for God to address the challenge was with a test? A test that Satan suggested - a plan that weighs completely in his favor.
Imagine Satan’s plan: “The surest way to determine if anyone would choose to serve You (God) would be to create a ‘physical’ world in which the spiritual universe is invisible. There place a creation that has no knowledge of You (God). This world and the universe must have no trace of Your existence. It must be possible to explain its origins through chance and evolution. And lastly, the nature of the beings that inhabit that planet must gravitate toward self rule, independence, and self-preservation. Only then can we guarantee that the creatures you make are independent thinkers, and not mindless fools who will blindly follow You.”
And so God created an entire universe and then erased every proof of His existence. The plan developed just as Satan hoped. Quite predictably mankind fell into sin, turned over his kingdom to Satan, and renounced God. Well, almost.
In the midst of the decadence and depravity which quickly consumed the world were those who quite unpredictable “chose” to believe and follow God despite the fact that He went out of His way to hide His existence from them. It just didn’t make sense. With an overwhelming tide of evidence which discounts God, these “believers” chose God!
Yes, I’m talking about us and the real purpose for our existence. We’re not here as part of a game show. We have a purpose, and in our purpose does the fate of the universe hang.
Unlike Satan we’ve not stood before God and looked upon His majesty, or been overcome by His spectacular magnificence. We are physical beings who have only known the corruption of sin, and live out our lives in a universe that has no room for a supreme being. We’ve been taught that the world evolved out of dust, and that there is no God. Even so, there are those of us who ignore the teaching of this world and reject the pull of sin. We “choose” to believe in God and to serve Him in spite of it all.
This dispensation is not about us, or about us winning what’s behind door number three. It’s all about the trial and judgment of Satan. Satan’s gamble to take over heaven has failed. It failed because the creatures Satan thought would make his case for him instead proved to be his undoing.
The Temporal Aspect of Man
Everything about our lives speaks to us of a temporary existence – an existence that is obviously not meant to continue forever. When you consider the nature of our universe you find that it is essentially an enormous explosion – one believed to have begun billions of years ago. Everything in this universe gets old or wears out. Stars burn out and explode, rust decays metal, wind and water erode even the hardest rock, living things get old and die, radioactive metals decay, and concepts such as perpetual motion exist only as a myth. Our universe can best be summed up by the old adage: “Nothing lasts forever.”
If God designed within the fabric of this universe an incontrovertible edict that all things must end, why then do Christians obsess with taking as much as they can from this life into the next?
Every religion describes an afterlife that is filled with every lustful pleasure imaginable. Muslims portray a paradise awaiting those who sacrifice their lives for Allah, a place where some men are given 42 virgins. Contemporary Christians are no less greedy in their dreams of a hereafter where mansions in a city of gold await them.
It’s apparent that God did not intend for this universe to continue. It’s evident that it is only temporal, and like dirty laundry it is meant to be shed and left behind. That’s why Jesus said concerning this life, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal (Matthew 6:19-20).” It’s clear that God created this universe and placed us here for a singular reason, and when that purpose is fulfilled it is to go away.
Therefore as Christians we should live each day with the outlook that what we see and what we experience are nothing more than murky expressions of the true reality for which we are created. This life is nothing more than a gloomy fog surrounding us, which obscures the genuine purpose of our existence. Through the haze we get fleeting glimpse of our destiny, but only to those who press through the mist.
Most people, including Christians, are content to grope around the uncertainties of this existence their entire life – a life of meaningless pursuit of pleasure, success, recognition, and an unsatisfying happiness. They begin and end their life with only an occasional consideration of eternity. Their thoughts, decision, and choices are all based on what’s best for the present and satisfies the pursuit of pleasure in this life.
How much more clear can God make it? We know that life is finite. We know that at best we have 70 to 80 years to live. We know that nothing lasts forever. We know that our decisions affect eternity, and yet we continually live our lives as though this is all there is.
“A Choice,” Your True Purpose
“Life’s so unfair.” Have you ever heard that said? If all you consider is this life, then yes, it’s unfair. It’s been that way ever since God placed the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden. Why put two trees in the garden? Wasn’t that unfair? Why give them the possibility of death and damnation?
What did two trees, which offered two different outcomes, give to mankind? It gave them a “choice.” That’s what this life is all about: Choices.
When you consider your own body you’ll see that it is nothing more than two “opposites” welded together. Your left and right hands and arms are opposites, same as your legs and feet. You’ve even a left and a right brain that function very differently. Your body is the reflection of the garden God made so many millennia ago. It is a choice between right and wrong, good and evil, the temporal and the eternal, and life and death. Just like Adam, we have been given a garden in the very bodies we inhabit. Like two trees of conflicting purposes, our bodies are an amalgamation of conflict. We are torn every day between choices: choices which will eventual determine our destiny. And like the garden God made, there are voices which are competing to influence our decisions.
The Four Voices
In Genesis 2 we hear the Voice of Truth echoing through the garden, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die(Genesis 2:16-17).” Then Genesis 3 begins with the Voice of Conflict. The Tempter first injects the idea that there might be some confusion over what God meant. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’(Genesis 3:1)?” He then appeals Eve’s lust for self-indulgence and ego. “You’re not going to die. That’s funny! God told you that just to keep you from eating from His tree. The only reason why He wouldn’t want you eating from it is because He knows that when you do your eyes will be opened, and you will be like Him, knowing everything (Genesis 3:4-5, paraphrased).” In doing so he awakens the Voice of Compromise. “Why not,” she reckons? “God’s a good God. And with all the confusion over this issue I need to decide for myself what the right thing is.” So the Voice of Compromise rationalizes the Voice of Truth. It often comes in the form of post-modernism, which suggests that with all the varying interpretation over Truth, each person must decide for their self the meaning of truth. And then there’s the Voice of Reason. As conflict brews between our compromising interpretations of truth - which is bent on manipulating truth to what best fulfills our lust for self-indulgence and ego - Reason makes an attempt, with our best intentions, to do the right thing. Often (like Adam) Reason becomes too overwhelmed by Conflict and Compromise to resist, and (like Adam) remains silent and simply goes with the flow. Far too often the voice of Reason is not heard till after the damage has been done and (like Adam) we find ourselves pleading with God (.i.e “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:10).
The Voice of Conflict pushes us into conflict with God and his Word. It solicits compromise to get us to focus on temporal pleasure, ego, lust, and indulgence. In doing so, we surrender to the short term fulfillment of our temporal existence.
We are the Garden of Eden. We are a miscellany – a confederation of enemies. We will forever contend with voices which conflict with truth, and rationalizes our desire for pleasure and temporary gratification. If we are to overcome, then we must become more than Adam. We cannot be “mere men” who (like Adam) watch in infinite stillness as life unfolds about us. We must not play the part of the victim like Adam did - who blamed his plight on “the woman” God forced on him. Much of the time it seems that our world spins outside of our control. Much of the time we feel the like the events that surround our lives are more in control than we are. We each must reconcile within our own hearts that we are our own Garden of Eden. If I don’t step in when I hear the voice of conflict, our compromising nature will, like Eve, lead us to destruction.
“I am man,” and therefore within me exists the purpose for which I am created. My purpose is reflected in body in which I am born. God designed my purpose when He so keenly crafted my body. I am a choice - a choice between good and evil, the temporal and eternal, and remaining silent or taking a stand. I am a cocktail of contradiction, a synthesis of conflicting values, and a battlefield of opposing armies. My existence is an eternal conflict of wills. But this conflict exists only with this temporal universe. When I finally leave this life I will leave this garden behind. And with it, gone will be the voice of conflict and compromise. Gone will be my body of choice. There will be only “one” man standing. Which one will I be? Will I be the man who chooses life, or the man who chooses death? When I leave this life I will have made that decision, and whatever awaits me in eternity, that is what I’ll be.
“I am man.” This is true, but that is NOT all which I will forever be!
Take care dear friends!
Ron, David, and Michael Schwartz
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