It began in a garden.
A beautiful garden.
The perfect garden.
Where soil was rich.
Fruit grew like weeds.
The ground fertile.
And all of the beauty, perfection, richness, bounty, and fertility bore witness to disaster.
It came as a lie.
A beautiful lie.
The perfect lie.
Resolve was poor.
Eyes were wide.
The soul was ready.
And all of the beauty, perfection, poverty, lust, and willingness believed the lie.
By taking control,
By deciding for myself,
By questioning sovereignty,
By submitting to my desire,
By following my will,
I discover freedom.
And all of the clutching, convincing, contending, lusting, and revolting sounded good.
…reality was harsh. Is harsh.
…independence was lonely. Is lonely.
…perspective was limited. Is limited.
…lust was empty. Is empty.
…insurrection was onerous. Is onerous.
And all of the harshness, loneliness, limitedness, emptiness, and onerousness overwhelmed me.
In our culture of independence, we have been deceived into thinking that the epitome of
freedom is the ability to choose whatever we want, and in so doing, we have created a world of spiritual (and sometimes physical) anarchy. The lie in the garden was so intriguing because not only did it speak to Eve’s lusts—to have her eyes opened—but because it gave her a false sense of independence. It twisted her desire for and understanding of freedom. It spoke to one of the deepest human desires—control.
This is such a deep human desire that Jesus—in his humanity—was tempted to put his own desires above that of the Father’s. In fact, this may be one of the greatest proofs that Jesus was in deed fully human. And yet at the climax of this struggle—when there was the most agony, and the most to be lost—Jesus said the words that kept his perfectionism and purity in tact—words that led to our freedom and salvation, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” (Luke 22:42; Mark 14:36)
In the greatest act of humility, the beautiful and perfect Son of God gave up his control, left the decision up to God, did not question the Father’s sovereignty, submitted to the Father’s desire, and followed the Father’s will. (Phil. 2: 6-11) And by that act of humility, Jesus created a new garden. With rich soil. Where fruit grows like weeds. (Matt. 7:16-20) And where the Word of God falls on fertile soil producing a crop of salvation and righteousness. (Matthew 13:18-23)
The foundation for relationship as designed by God includes humility, submission, sovereignty, understanding one’s place, following, serving, and community. That is the picture we see of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son, and that should be the foundation for our relationships with one another.
Consider Philippians 2:1-8: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
Philippians begins with a call to community—being united with Christ which results in a common sharing of the Holy Spirit. Paul exhorts us to be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. He tells us not to be selfish or vain, but in humility value others above yourselves. He tells us not to look out for our own interests but to the interests of others.
This is the opposite of what our culture teaches. It’s not through independence and control that we gain freedom and life. It’s through humility.
It’s not by taking control that we gain control. It’s by releasing control, that we gain control. (Matt. 16:25-26)
It’s not by deciding for myself that I find understanding. It’s by leaning on God that I find
understanding. (Prov. 3:5-6)
It’s not by contending with God that I discover direction. It’s by fearing God that I discover
direction. (Prov. 9:10)
It’s not by giving into my lust that I find fulfillment. It’s in knowing the love of Christ that I find
fulfillment. (Eph. 3:17-19)
It’s not by following my will that I find freedom. It’s in walking with the Spirit that I find freedom. (Galatians 5:13-26; 2 Cor. 3:16-18)