Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
This is the simple truth that was overshadowed in Genesis 3. God’s goodness and truth were traded for moral autonomy – the chance for man to be his own god. The serpent undermined Eve’s view of God, leading her to question God’s loving boundaries. The cost of moral autonomy was and is great. Banishment from the garden and the Tree of Life, physical and spiritual death, toil and pain continue to this day.
As Americans, we talk a lot about freedom, but we rarely pause to give any definition to the word itself. What do we mean by freedom? Is freedom the just rule of law, or the lack of all rules?
Adam and Eve had freedom in the Garden to eat of every tree except one. They had the freedom of trusting in a loving God who had created them to enjoy His presence. Instead, they chose freedom from God and His rule – both His sovereign rule and His single command. They wrongly saw freedom in moral autonomy. Instead, they subjected themselves to the serpent – an animal over which Adam had been commanded to rule. The power structures of the world were turned upside-down (God>Man>Serpent became Serpent>Man>God).
This is where we find ourselves today. Our hearts (yours and mine) long for moral autonomy – the right to make our own rules. We want to be like gods. We desperately believe that we will only find true joy when we rid ourselves of the rule makers in our lives, especially if they disagree with our moral vision. This is the very heart of sin. It is a rebellion against God’s right as our Creator to rule our lives. We have declared our own sovereignty within His territory, making us His enemies. And for this, He has every right and obligation to punish us as traitors.
We are traitors and fugitives. There is no freedom for traitors and fugitives. Traitors and fugitives live in the shadows. They don’t show their face in public. They fear being exposed, and often strike out violently against those who threaten to blow their cover. Does this sound like your heart? In your search for freedom, have you found hopelessness instead?
This is where the good news comes in, and it’s free. On the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for our rebellion. He stood in our place, so that we could stand before God in his place. God’s justice and wrath were poured out on Jesus in place of all who give up their rebellion and see that he is their only hope. His resurrection guarantees the verdict, and grants freedom to rebel captives. Do you want freedom and true joy? This is the only place you will find it! Confess your rebellion and look to the Savior! Delight yourself in the Lord!
This was an article I bookmarked the other day. If you are in ministry, or in seminary, it is worth reading and filing it away. I know I can definitely feel the allure of these idols in my own heart. Click here for the article.
Recently, Dr. Jim Hamilton, a professor of mine brought an article to my attention that I would highly recommend you reading. It is called When Gentile Meets Jew by Peter Leithart. Leithart sees Ruth in the grand narrative of Scripture, and weaves together a number of great insights. Check it out.
There is something I see as a very unhealthy trend in church planting circles: the idea of “The Man.” Church planting is a lonely venture, but the idea of sending one man is both unbiblical and unwise. I love the work of organizations like Acts 29 and read the programmatic work for their planters, Darrin Patrick’s Church Planter. But Paul never planted alone.
Together is Better
Monty Waldron, who was my pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Murfreesboro, TN has been known to say “together is better.” The guy is like a broken record. In fact, he preached at my church in Louisville recently and said it again! The guy just won’t let it go! But he’s right.
When Paul set out on his first missionary journey, he did so with Barnabas, the man who had taken Paul under his wing and shown him around when he first became a believer. Barnabas was the one guy that gave Paul a chance. We don’t know much about Barnabas, but we do know he had been a believer for longer than Paul. The two men set out on their journey together, and took along a young John Mark.
Later, when Paul and Barnabas went in different directions, Paul was joined by Silas. Throughout his letters, we see that Paul took various people along with him to help in his efforts – Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus, etc. We don’t have a single example of Paul going alone. It is likely that Paul learned this from Jesus, who sent out his disciples in pairs, probably to fulfill the requirement in the Law for multiple witnesses. We also see Peter and John consistently together in Acts.
It is the exception to the rule when we see a Christian ministering alone in the New Testament. Why would we do it any differently? Let’s join together in the great work of making disciples and gathering them into churches. It’s a challenging road, but
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, ESV)