Monday, October 11, 2010

The Map, the Guide and the Destination

copyright ©2010 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

You may think you know this tale, but it just may lead you to a different Destination than what you expect.

Once upon a time, and this is a true story, mankind lived in a literal paradise. They had everything they needed, including creative hobbies and companionship. Food could be found in abundance, disease was non-existent, and no healthy desire was out of reach. The people even had direct access to God. That’s right, they could have a face to face encounter throughout the day. Even negative thoughts were non-existent… well, at least until this one idea crept into the head of one of the people. The concept was this: if a person knew all about what is right and wrong, then they would be as powerful as God. Essentially, if you knew everything about everything, including the way to be perfect, you could be your own god. The thought seemed like a good idea: understand right and wrong, know how to perfect yourself, be a god. The only problem was that instead of leading into a powerful life, this thought process led to death.

Now, God knew that mankind would go down this path, so He crafted a plan to lead them out of it. See, the law (e.g. – rules of right and wrong) was more than a person could follow. In fact, the further mankind got away from God’s presence, the more the idea of following the law irritated man. After all, doesn’t a god get to create his or her own rules? What makes God’s rules the ONLY right and wrong out there? At least that’s the major premise. Unfortunately, the “make your own rules” notion breaks down when the rules you make don’t reflect reality. Yep, there’s truth and then there’s fantasy.

So man got his wish and understood in his heart the difference between right and wrong. But the animosity of man towards God grew so much that man no longer knew how to even have a conversation with God. In fact, some men even claimed that God did not exist. This lie helped men feel better about themselves, and allowed them to pursue that “I’m my own man” fantasy that is so comfortable.

However, despite all this, God still loved His creation and longed to show His love in a way that man could once again understand. So with man’s insistence on knowing what’s right and wrong, God gave man a set of rules that if followed completely, would lead to salvation. With the rules all written out, there could be no confusion about what needed to be done. But man kept breaking this written set of rules (a.k.a. – “the Law”) and this just left man even further without excuse. In fact, with this written set of rules, men started turning on each other, pointing out the short-comings of each other, but over-looking the portion of the Law that declared their own guilt.

So the Map to paradise was the Law. All anyone had to do to get to heaven was follow the Map. But it proved too difficult, so God sent a Guide. He told mankind to follow the Guide and to trust the Guide. But men had a hard time trusting in the Guide. You see, mankind had become so comfortable with the Map, that even though they couldn’t always understand the Map, they preferred trying to figure it out on their own. So when the Guide would lead men down a path that didn’t match their understanding of the Map, the people would balk. In fact, they would proclaim that the Guide was an imposter.

So man wants a Map; God gives him a Map. Man says “I can do it on my own”; God says “give it a try”; Man can’t do it on his own and needs a Guide; God provides a Guide. Man doesn’t trust the Guide and keeps going back to the Map, until out of frustration they once again accept the Guide, not sure if they can even trust the Guide. Wow… what a patient Guide!

Now here’s the irony: man wanted the treasures of heaven, and God delivers it to man to spend on earth. But man is so focused on reaching his destination that he completely misses out on the fact that the Guide is the Destination! Yep. The Treasure of Heaven is a relationship with Jesus, and as we spend time with Him, we see more and more of the gifts He has given us. But we’re so focused on the “get to heaven” thing that we miss out on the reality that the Kingdom of Heaven is both here and eternal. It’s like a movie, where a woman is so into having someone coach her into getting the perfect husband, that she fails to notice the coach is actually the perfect husband.

God’s presence changes everything. It changes our outlook and it even changes the laws of nature. Miracles happen in His presence, and lives are transformed. You see, it was never about the rules of right and wrong to begin with. The rules were good and perfect, but we were never made to be perfect. We were made to be loved and to love in return. The rules brought separation from God, and greater comprehension of the rules led to an understanding of our depravity. Some men understand their depravity and try to hide it, both from themselves and others. But the redeemed recognize both their unworthy and needy state, and they put their trust in the name of the Son of God: Jesus! (meaning “Yahweh Saves!”)

So the Guide is the Destination. We can live in relationship with Him here on earth. We can see and participate in His transforming power. And we can see Him work miracles as the laws of nature even bend to His immeasurable grace.