Where we start often determines where we finish. The end is predicated on the beginning. Our perception is based on our experiential understanding. In our human wisdom we base much of what we know to be true on our perception. We will immediately reject something as “false” based on our “grid.” Our “grid” is our perception and is inherent in our processing. We actually don’t know it is happening unless we step back and make a detached observation. Even that observation will have millions of assumptions running in the subconscious. OK, too much psycho-babble?
Let’s dial it back and get specific. Within myself I have always “known” some things to be true. Sometimes those “truths” conflicted with by observations or more directly, with what I was being told. Just now, after what seems like an entire life, I am beginning to “see” what I have known to be true within. OK, maybe even that is a little too mystical for some. So how about I just jump to the point.
We have been told a lie. That is pretty straight forward, right? The lie is we are separated from God. For this post let’s call it the Fallacy of Separation:
Fallacy – synonyms: misconception, misbelief, delusion, mistaken impression, error, misapprehension, misinterpretation, misconstruction, mistake
Separation – synonyms: disconnection, detachment, severance, dissociation, disunion, disaffiliation, segregation, partition
That untruth has so messed up the processor in our minds that we just can’t “see” the truths of God, His nature, His intentions, His actions, His person. Jesus came to make it possible for us to see and enter His truth (the Kingdom of Heaven) but I am getting ahead of myself. Let me suggest that separation from God is a manmade thing.
It started in the Garden of Eden. We agreed with a deception. We listened to the crafty one and believed a number of lies. The devil said God was holding back and not telling us the whole story. He said God was lying about what would happen when we ate the fruit. He challenged us in our destiny to be like God by challenging that we were not like God. Again the devil planted these thoughts, these untruths about who we were and who God is. Then we ate the fruit. The conscious was born. Our good versus evil discerner came on full blast. Our internal judgment mechanism immediately judged us as unworthy and shameful. We hid from God in guilt. We ran to the bushes when God was not looking to punish us. We believed our conscious and projected our broken self-images on God. We made God in our image. We formulated a God who is a logical extension of our good side and painted Him with our dysfunctional need for justice and judgment. The problem is our definition of those terms were derived from a fallen human internal judge and a deceived-mind generated wisdom. We completely lost touch with who God really was and is.
In all of that hiding and running and projecting we separated ourselves in our minds and our persons from God. We couldn’t stand the thought of being in His presence so we created barriers and walls and infinite chasms in our minds. We assumed He hated us and we made ourselves His enemy. All the while He never changed. His desire was for us. His cosmic plan was to include us. All the brokenness was on our end. We had become “dark to the light.” We embraced the darkness, the absence of light, the “separation from God” as our internal security blanket. Instead of clinging to the one who is life and love and light we ran into our own wisdom and observations and empirical assessments and darkness to the truth…we were not separated from Him in reality but only in presumption. Check this out:
Col 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds (ESV)
The interesting thing is in the western world we are predominately a Greek philosophical society. Western Christianity has the “grid” of Aristotle and Neoplatonism. Aristotle had developed a model of the universe (350 BC) that included separation from “god” as a cornerstone assumption. Matter was bad and spirit was good. Spirit in this case was pure thought or reason. A human was in the bad stuff. To get from the bad stuff to the good stuff the human had to be enlightened. Enlightenment was a process of confession, repentance and renouncing sins to attain the next level in this cosmology.
When Jesus arrived on the scene there was a new development in the Jewish religious tradition…Pharisee. This word comes from the Hebrew for detached or separate. Not only were these “separate” from others but were the ones that could exclude others. They were those who wanted the Romans out and the sinners out. Could it be that the idea of “separation” came from Aristotle 350 years earlier? Also you might note that “God was silent” for the last 400 years prior to Jesus.
In the same Colossians passage Paul says this:
Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (ESV)
See that in bold? He holds all things together. Again Paul says this:
Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘ In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Paul was saying this to Athenian “Pagans.” Interesting don’t you think?
Now you might even agree that “yes this is what Jesus does today” which would be a huge step away from thoughts of separation. Yay! But let me show you that we have never been separate from God. We may have not known it as a fallen Adam but it was true nonetheless.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (ESV)
There is so much in these 5 verses. Let me highlight a few. First the Word is Jesus. Most all of you know that. More than a man, Jesus is the plan. Jesus is the incarnation before He is incarnate. Jesus is the triune inclusion plan of mankind into the family. I’ll hit more of that in the next post. The “in the beginning” can be overlooked but it is very important to see that this plan of God came from outside the creation and into the creation. The creation is included in God. That is powerful. Even before time began the plan was in work. The creation is a product of the plan.
It is obvious in verses 3 and 4 that through Jesus all the stuff including us was made, right? Now let me show you something really cool. In the Greek there is no punctuation (at least not like our periods and commas). It is implied and translated into the English. At least up until 400 AD the church fathers saw these verses differently:
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made. In what was made was His life, and the life was the light of men.
I took out the verse numbers (which wouldn’t have been there) and I moved the period to where the early church fathers said it should be. Search Cyril of Alexandria and commentary on the Gospel of John and you will find the reference.
Can you see that since the beginning, mankind had the life of Jesus in them and that life was the light? Sadly the next verses apply:
John 1:9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. (ESV)
We have never been separated from God. Mankind may not have known or been aware of His presence but He has never been apart from us. We are not trying to jump or climb or fly…or anything else to cross some mythological chasm that separates us.
Pause for effect…
If you have lived in western culture for more than 5 minutes your next question is the most logical one.
Pause for effect…
“If we aren’t separated from God for any reason (including sin) then why did Jesus come?”
You heard right. Sin does not separate us from God. Nothing has separated mankind from God. His life is our life. We may live in the darkness but the light shines out of the darkness.
Now with a new grid we can begin to see differently. The “new grid” is “no separation.” So in the next post (or many) I will try to show you why Jesus had to come. As a teaser think about this…
If Adam had not fallen, would we still need the incarnation?