I just finished reading Donald Miller’s book Searching for God Knows What, and it has given me a fresh perspective on the damage done at the Fall.  I’m not sure if we can fully comprehend the implications of that one act of disobedience.  The relationship that Adam and Eve had with God beforehand was severed in a way that is difficult for those of us on this side of it to fully comprehend.  We have always lived in a broken world and always will until Jesus comes back to make all things new (Revelation 21).  But I think the greatest sadness is that they knew exactly what they lost.

A prominent theme of Miller’s book is what he calls the “Lifeboat Theory” – an explanation for why we humans act like we do, especially toward other humans.  I will not attempt to explain it in great depth, but I would recommend that you read the book if you get the chance.  Over and over again, he demonstrates that we are forever caught in this effort to find out who we really are.  In the Garden, Adam and Eve were completely secure in their identity and their value.  But, he says, ever since the the Fall we have been desperately seeking to find our way back to that place of understanding.  And so we try to figure it out by playing this game of comparisons and competition.  It makes us feel better.  Or so we pretend.

And he’s completely right.

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.  (Galatians 5:19-21, The Message)

If no one else was watching, most of us would probably acknowledge that we know exactly what Paul means. 

And we feel caught.  We are desperate to be validated by someone or something, and so we’ve puffed ourselves up in hopes that the rest of the world will justify us.  But once that happens, we find ourselves drowning in the misery of empty self-promotion that only makes us feel more insecure.  We don’t trust the praises of others because we know they’re just like us, but we keep seeking after them anyway.

We want to know who we really are.  So, we try to figure out who we aren’t.  We’re very adept at categorizing and analyzing people, figuring out how we’re superior to them.  Oh, it’s just play, we say.  But the truth is that it’s deep insecurity drenched in self-absorption. 

We are so obsessed with ourselves. 

If only we could go back.  If only we could walk in the cool of the day and feel no shame.  If only we could settle this issue over who we really are and whether we’re worth anything at all.

Jesus came to save sinners, but He also came to restore our relationship.  To bring us back into fellowship with God.  To free us from this empty cycle of trying to prove ourselves.  To assure us we do have worth.  He gave it to us.  To tell us we should stop wasting our time deciding who is worthy of the lifeboat and get on with it.  To tell us He loves every single one of the people in that boat in the same way, so we should stop with the games and start loving as loved people. 

What happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely … Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.  (Galatians 5:22-23 & 25-26, The Message)

It’s time to get over ourselves and believe God.