I am reading How People Grow by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. They suggest that the opening chapters of the Bible provide a practical understanding of the key things that are broken and damaged in the human soul and in the ways we live our lives. To summarize it briefly, they point out that we find some significant life-building truths in the creation account:
1: God is the Source, or Provider, of all that is good and life-giving.
2: God designed us for relationship (relationship with God and relationship with one another).
3: God sets the rules for life, and our satisfaction is found in yielding to God’s authority, obeying His rule. (An important aspect of this is that we are to recognize that God is in control of the world, and our role is to be in control of our self.)
It is in the third chapter of Genesis that we learn of the horrendous damage caused by sin…and its ongoing repercussions in our lives and in the world today. Summarizing it briefly again, Adam and Eve reversed the entire created order throwing balance into disarray:
1: Rather than depending on God as the Source and Provider of all that is good and life-giving, they tried to make themselves and their actions the source of life (they ate the fruit to try to become like God themselves). In similar manner, we try to grab happiness or fulfillment independently of God and of what God says is right and good. In doing so, we end up in disappointment, and we bring pain to ourselves and to others.
2: Our relationships are broken. Adam and Eve hid from each other and from God, and they blamed each other, and enmity entered into the nature of their relationship. Our relationships are broken also. We struggle with shame, and we end up blaming and accusing and hiding and denying and putting on masks and reacting defensively and angrily and suspiciously. We need good relationships, but we fail at relationships continually.
3: They reversed their role with God. Rather than trusting God’s control of the world and yielding to His authority and following His rules, they put themselves above His authority. They made themselves the “masters” of their own destiny. What happened? While not trusting God’s control, we try to control others in a variety of different ways but cannot even control ourselves. We act as though we have authority to do what we want…and end up with a world so deeply scarred by sin that children are molested, wives abused, greed out of control, people cheated and oppressed, and so many other griefs caused by sin.
What hope do we have?
The hope is to return to the created order where we look to God as the Source and Provider of all that is good and life-giving, where we live in inter-dependent relationships with others, where we yield to God’s authority and trust Him to control the world. Such a return requires two things: The redeeming work of Christ on the cross and our continual yielding to His Lordship and leading in our lives and in our relationships.