When my kids were toddlers, the first word out of their sweet little mouths (besides “I love my wonderful mama!” wink-wink) was a word that baffled me. I never said it to them (I don’t think). It just floated out of those babies’ lips.
They’d grab a toy out of another child’s hands and claim possession whether it was theirs or not. And I was horrified that first time my precious did such a thing and yelled,
My children never loved their own toys as much as they did their playmate’s–at least not when their friend was playing with it.
As I watched this scenario unfold time and time again, I began to understand our human sinful nature.
We are selfish. Self-focused. Always wanting something more. And because of our inward focus, we find it hard to trust others much less God. John Eldredge writes,
When we lived in Eden, there was virtually no restriction on the pleasure around us. We could eat freely from any tree in the Garden. Our desire was innocent and fully satisfied. We had it all, but we threw it away. By mistrusting God’s heart, by reaching to take control of what we wanted, Adam and Eve sat in motion a process in our hearts, a desperate grasping that can be described only as addiction. Desire goes mad within us. Gerald May observes, ‘Once they gave into that temptation, their freedom was invaded by attachment. They experienced the need for more. God knew that they would not–could not–stop with just one tree.’
Our first parents are banished from Paradise as an act of mercy. The thought of the human race gaining immortality–eating from the Tree of Life–in a fallen state is too horrible to imagine. We would be evil forever. (The Journey of Desire, 91-92)
The other day as I wrote a lesson for a new Bible study I’m working on, I came across an interesting Greek word spoken by Jesus. He told His disciples, “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).
It seems like a harsh declaration, but a little digging brings clarity.
The Greek word translated as “life” in the beginning of Jesus’ statement is the word psuche. This word refers to desires, affections, appetites, passions, the lower aspect of one’s nature. . . (Complete Word Study)
“Whoever is addicted to his own desires, wants, and appetites for the things of this world. . .will lose those things he wants so badly. They can not bring life. But the man who hates his worldly addictions will guard his passions for zoe. . . life eternal.” (Lee paraphrase)
There’s life found in letting go. There’s eternal life (zoe) when we trade our in-the-moment, self-focus for a God-centered, others-centered, eternal-focused life.
For Christ’s love compels us , because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Cor. 5:15).
Who are we living for? Are we new creatures in Christ living with purpose beyond today?
Will you pray with me?
“God, the one who created us. The one who redeemed us. Thank you. Put a bad taste in our mouths for our worldly desires and passions that do not bring life. Refocus us. Take our eyes off ourselves and place them on you. Make us hunger to live for something greater than what this world can give. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.”
For most of us this new creature thing is a process.
It’s all about focus, my friends.
What could we do differently today as we walk as new creatures?
Jesus loves you,