In the beginning, God created. He created a perfect earth where humans would dwell, living in perfect harmony with God, others, the earth and self. And then came the serpent. He asked questions, distorted the truth, causing Adam and Eve to doubt God’s goodness, love, and intention for them. They accepted the lie, believed it as truth, and separated themselves from God’s good plan. They become SELF-reliant, SELF-focused, SELF-sovereign. And in doing so, a vacuum was created that all humans inherit. We were created to live in fullness as human beings, but we traded that for the emptiness of human doings.

Since that time, humans struggle to ease the God-shaped ache in their souls by doing. Rather than relationships of openness and mutuality, preservation and self-reliance are fostered. Rather than a relationship with creation that sustains and nurtures the body, wealth, dominance and possessions are pursued. Rather than acceptance of self just as it is, the constant fear that “I am not enough” runs rampant. Values and standards set by others are readily embraced in an attempt to do enough that we will be stamped WORTHY! ACCEPTED! VALUABLE!

In salvation, God accepts us just as we are and begins the process of remaking us into the people he intends us to be, people in the image of Jesus. He wants to turn our hearts away from ourselves back to him as the source of life. Rather than self-centered existence, he invites us to a Christ-centered existence.

But the serpent still visits us today and fills our minds with lies. Lies that sound true, so we embrace them and live from places of deceit and defeat. Self-preservation is practiced because who else will look out for me? I fear self-sacrifice because I don’t want to be taken advantage of or get behind in the race of life. I forego self-care because it takes too much time, I have FOMO (fear of missing out), or some other misguided idea that a good Christian only thinks about others. (You know that song: J-O-Y, J-O-Y, J-O-Y must be, Jesus first, yourself last, others in between!)

Frankly, I don’t think the serpent cares how he distracts us. He just doesn’t want us to live Christ-centered lives. In the beginning, he convinced humanity they would be better off taking care of themselves. And it continues today.

Scripture says humans were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). It was, and always has been, his plan for humans to be in his image. So, he sent Jesus in the likeness of humans (John 1:14), so he might accomplish what humans were unable to do. That is, say NO to the serpent and to self-centered living. He showed us what it means to live a God-centered life.

If we are to look like Jesus, it is good if we know what that is. How can I emulate someone who is unknown to me? Following are just a few of the passages that tell us the kind of person Jesus is. Becoming like him is a work of the Holy Spirit, our part is vulnerable surrender. For those of us who value individualism and independence, that might be the hardest part.

Regarding self-preservation, scripture says:

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

Regarding self-sacrifice, scripture says:

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 

1 Peter 1:18-19

{Jesus said} “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.”

John 10:11

Regarding self-care, scripture says:

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

Matthew 14:22-23

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. 

Mark 4:38

Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

John 4:6-8

Jesus also said:

 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Self-centered living exhausts; it is a heavy burden to bear. Jesus invites you to something different, a restful way of living. If you haven’t surrendered your life to him, I invite you to do that today. There are no magic words or incantations to say. It’s as simple as saying, “Jesus, I’m really tired! Help me with this burden!” And he will. He will accept you exactly like you are and then lead you into a life that is full of peace and joy.

If you are already a follower of Jesus, how is the image you present? Do you accurately reflect Jesus? What area is the most difficult for you? Talk to him about that today. He already accepted you just as you are, and he knows about that tough spot. He isn’t surprised, freaked out or turned off by who you are. He loves you.

Until next time…

May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

4 Comments on “AND IN THE BEGINNING…”

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