May 2, 2012

Dark Spiral

Within the human being is this wonderful, maddening, unpredictable, (and did I mention wonderful) thing which we call a heart. In general, our heart, not the physical heart, of course, but the figurative heart, is the centralized essence of all that we are.  Basically it is our character essence.

OK -  I guess if we have to be more specific, it is made up of both our our conscious and our subconscious minds. And, certainly it contains our emotions. And, without doubt, it houses our conscience and our value system.

But, most days, it is just our heart. It is what we feel. It is our sense of good and evil, right and wrong. It is the driver of our day, the setter of our direction, the decider of our actions, and our reactions.

When our heart is right, i.e. living in harmony with God’s truth, we are truly blessed. Our existence becomes fulfilling, meaningful, and beautifully ordered.

But, when our heart goes wrong, when we start to live in discord with the divine truth, everything goes spiraling downward into a very dark place. And sometimes that spiral transcends generations to become an inter-generational decline – enabling the darkest of the Darkness to touch our existence.

And this downward spiral of perception, thought, and attitude toward God is very traceable. Its trajectory is clearly etched in the pages of the Bible, beginning in the early regions of the book of Genesis - chapter 3, to be exact. 

There we find Adam and Eve living in perfect harmony with God and His truth. And we can notice the ideal state of their faith, which was essentially this:  "There is a God, and He is watching out for my best interests. And, I am happy for Him to do so."

We can see this simple confidence in the first couple when the Adversary comes to Eve and sarcastically accuses God of being restrictive to the pair. He does this through his question, which he delivers with a negative spin regarding God’s protection of the couple. The Adversary says, “Has God indeed said, ‘You may not eat of every tree of the Garden?’”

Eve responds to this negative accusation by pointing out that God has kindly given them access to all the trees in the garden except one, and that, only to protect them from the consequences of its deadly fruit. Thus, with a perfect confidence in God’s care, she says, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But, of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it; nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

So, this is the high place where God intends for us to live. Faith is to bring us to the simple truth that, yes, indeed, there is a God; and he is, in fact, looking out for our best interest, which we are happy to allow Him to do.

But then, we notice the beginning of the downward spiral. A background question is introduced to the conversation between Satan and Eve. And, it marks the first point of the trajectory toward the Darkness. The question is this.  “Yes, there is a God.  But, is He really watching out for my best interests?”

We see this inference in the Adversary’s statement when he says, “You shall not surly die. For God knows that in the day that you eat of it [the fruit] your eyes will be opened; and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Notice, the Devil does not challenge the reality of God, here. It is the verity and goodness of God which is called into question. Eve is being asked simply to suspect the motives and actions of her Creator.

Eventually, as we now know, Adam and Eve succumbed to the subtlety of Satan. So, believing the suggestion of Satan, that the fruit could make them like God, self-sufficient and with a more perfect awareness of what was truly good and truly evil, they ate the the fruit.  

And just like that the next step away from God and toward the abyss of the Darkness was taken.    It was this.  “There is a God, but I am really my own best hope. So, I will rely on my own aspirations and actions.”
Adam and Eve quickly discovered the error in this thought. But, they could not undo this poisonous attitude of self-determination which had already infected their heart, and which would eventually infect the whole of the species through them.

And, this downward heart spiral, which Adam and Eve introduced to humanity, did, indeed, continued through subsequent generations. We can read of this in Paul’s writings, in the book of Romans, chapter 2, where the Apostle describes this trans-generational darkening.

He says there, “For since the creation of the world, His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they were without excuse; because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts. And their foolish hearts were darkened." [Brackets added]

So, eventually, as succeeding generations come and go this progressing "heart darkness" brings humanity to ask the next question question in the downward spiral.  Man starts to ask,
“Is there really a God?”

And now, in this late hour of human history, we have come to the place that arrogantly brag of our final and definitive answer to that question.  Relying on reason, and science, and the power of our own intellect, we fashion this conclusion:  There is no God!”

And as the darkness of the species progresses man eventually arrives at the only conclusion which will ultimately satisfy his arrogance.  It is this idea: I am the God.  The idea being that, “We are self sufficient, the masters of our own destiny and answerable to no higher power.” 

But, in fact, we are not, of course. The simple fact, which such a delusion always evades, is that we all die. Thus, less a redemptive Creator, every individual in the species is born merely running headlong toward his or her personal extinction. 

So, if in the thinking of our dark heart we subtract the redemptive God from our reality, the destiny with which we are all left becomes merely - oblivion. If we have no divine Savior, our end is simply to cease to exist. Obviously, all of this smacks much more of insufficiency than self- sufficiency.

But, in fact, there is a loving and redemptive God. There is, indeed, a divine Savior. He is Christ, the completely unique Savior of the world. And He goes far beyond merely saving us from the consequential death of our decision to entrust ourselves to ourselves. He also restores our heart to a true enlightenment.

And with that restored heart, a heart which is once again in harmony with God’s truth, comes a durable and completely fulfilling renewal of our friendship with our loving Creator. And, as a result, we are brought to a wonderful destiny of real substance - an elevated and everlasting existence.

Nevertheless, all of that goodness depends upon this complicated inner mechanism - the heart. It is that thing which enables us to feel. It is our sense of good and evil, right and wrong. 
It is the driver of our day, the setter of our direction, the decider of our actions and our reactions.  

And ultimately, depending on whether it is enlightened by Christ or darkened by our own arrogance, our heart will make of us one of two things.  Either it will make of us a blessed and grateful child of God.  Or it will make of us an arrogant and egocentric fool.