Everything was good, and now it’s all bad, it seems. The Coronavirus is killing thousands.
So, we wonder, “What’s wrong? Who’s to blame? And what do we do now?”
Years ago, I picked up my missionary friend, Alan and his wife, Jennifer, returning from a couple of difficult years abroad. As we drove from the airport to my house, I quoted some Bible verses and told them how God had blessed me because I was so faithful. I exited the freeway in a very wealthy part of town, looked for a mansion with no cars in the drive, stopped, jumped out and said, “Because I’m faithful God has given me a house.”
I knew what Alan was thinking, “Where’s my house? What’s wrong here? I was faithful, where’s my blessing?”
(Nice houses are a gift. But implying that God owes you one because of your faithfulness is a lie.)
I then said, “Oh, I’m sorry, this isn’t my house.” And Alan hit me!
Much of what I’d told Alan was true—the Scriptures were true—but I strung all of them together in a false narrative.
Everything seemed Good, but then rather bad, all because of my lie.
Maybe we all felt like Alan this past week: “Where’s my house? Where’s my sense of security? What did I do wrong? Who’s to blame? What do I do now?”
How we answer is dependent on one of two narratives.
A narrative is how we give meaning to all of the facts.
The first narrative is that the world is governed by a set of immutable laws, like gravity and the Ten Commandments. Life is all about gaining knowledge of those laws and using them to save yourself.
Secular people call that “the survival of the fittest.” Religious people often call that “Righteousness.”
This first narrative assumes that we’re all alive and preparing to die.
The second narrative is that the world is governed by our Dad, who is telling our story with his Word. He has laws, but they are all a part of this story—a story of grace, called “The Gospel.”
Life is not “the survival of the fittest,” but actually, “the sacrifice of the fittest.” That’s the plot.
This second narrative doesn’t actually assume that any of us are alive.
In the beginning—humanity’s beginning, and your individual beginning—there was a tree in a garden: One tree that functioned like two, or two trees that looked the same standing in one place.
The garden is at the beginning of time, end of time, and the place which gives meaning to all of time, and all of your time.
In the beginning, the serpent said to the woman, “You won’t surely die.” That’s the lie.
And yet he keeps us “in lifelong bondage through the fear of death.” Sound familiar?
She took fruit and gave some to the first Adam, their eyes were opened, and they made coverings.
Fig leaves, clothes, tents, houses, self-justifications and egos are all “coverings.”
They made coverings and hid.
They hid from the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day, the Lord who is our helper, our true husband, our true covering, our righteousness—the Life; they hid from the Life in death.
They hid from the Judgment of God. “I know that the Father’s Judgment is eternal life,” said Jesus.
So, what is death? In Scripture, physical death isn’t really death, but a metaphor for death.
The first death is hiding yourself from “the Life;” it’s sin.
It happens the day you become self-conscious, the day you first feel shame.
The day you begin to build an ego… and hide.
The first death is seizing control of the Life; the second death is surrendering the Life.
The first is separation; the second is separation from separation—communion.
The first is outer darkness; the second is a lake of unquenchable burning Love.
The first is shame; the second is Faith in your Helper; it’s trusting the Judgment of God.
God’s judgment is Love—Love is choosing to lose “your life” and find it in another.
On the sixth day of Creation, humanity is still hiding from the Life, taking knowledge of the Good to justify the self, trying to make heaven, but only sinking deeper into hell; humanity has been enchanted by evil and the illusion of our own control—a false narrative.
On the sixth day of Creation, Genesis tells us that God “cursed the ground, the adamah.”
The adamah is what the adam, humanity, is made of. It’s also translated “earth.”
He cursed the earth and Adam’s earthen vessel, but not Adam.
Genesis 3:17 · “Cursed is the ground for your sake.”
He then cast them out of the garden and placed cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life, lest they keep eating as they’d been eating and live forever.
That would be an endless hell. God cursed the earth to save us from an endless hell.
He banned them from the tree for a time, but we do come back to the tree in the End.
It’s there in the middle of the New Jerusalem.
And it’s there in the garden of Calvary on the temple mount.
I believe it even grows in the garden of your heart. We also call it “The Cross.”
We come back to the tree and eat of the fruit, but we eat in a new way.
Not as zombies and vampires, not as those who seize control, but those who surrender control; we don’t take body broken and blood shed, in fear; we commune with our bridegroom having surrendered to his Love.
We now know that what we have taken has always been fore-given.
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. And he is the fruit that hangs on the tree.
We ingested him when we took knowledge from the tree.
He descended into us; He was cast out with us, for he would not “leave us nor forsake us.”
He is our helper; And He is the Way back to the garden.
He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Life rising from the dead in us; he is God’s Judgment in us, God’s Decision in us. He is Faith, Hope, and Love in us.
And we are his house. And he is our house.
God cursed the house that I make, so that I would choose to live in our house that he has made “eternal in the heavens.”
The curse is the cutting edge of infinite blessing.
And the curse reveals the blessing… in us, rising in us, like a song.
Italy has the highest death rate. And all the best singing.
This past week they came out of their apartments, their houses, their shame, their egos, and started singing… together.
God “subjected creation to futility in hope”—hope that we would all come out of ourselves, sing his praises, and never ever stop.
It will happen, has happened, and can even happen today, when you believe.
So, what’s wrong? The narrative that we have believed is wrong.
What’s happening? The death of death is happening. Eternal life is happening.
Who’s to blame? God is to blame. His judgment is Good. In fact, the only place to hide is evil.
What should we do? Nothing.
Some people think that’s death, but maybe it’s the death of death.
I think God calls it “The Sabbath,” the presence of the Seventh Day.