Friday, August 13, 2010

Dining with Jesus (Part 2)

It all started in a garden

“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

When God created Eden it was a reflection of His Heavenly realm. “And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Genesis 2:9). The river running through it provided water for the plants and trees (Genesis 2:10). John writes of his visions of Heaven in Revelation 22,

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding it fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (1-2)

This broken place is but a glimpse of the eternal kingdom that is being prepared for us (John 14:3). God knew that man would fall into sin and from His grace, yet He made him anyway. His intentions all along were to send Christ as our Savior and eternal sacrifice (2 Timothy 1:9). He provides glimpses of His glory and majesty on this earth that we may understand how much greater our lives will be in Heaven.

Unfortunately, the ruler of this world is Satan and he chooses to distort and pervert everything that God intended for good. Once Adam and Eve ate that fruit from the tree (Genesis 3) they then understood that there are two sides to every action, a good one and an evil one. While God was in control there was only good because there is no evil in Him (Psalm 92:15) but once the knowledge of evil was revealed, Satan got a foothold. “ ‘You will not surely die’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ (Genesis 3:4-5).” Of course Adam and Eve did not physically die, but they died spiritually. The communion with God was broken and now nothing could save them from eternal damnation but a complete and total sacrifice for their sin.

So now we are presented at every turn with the opportunity to do good or to do evil. We are born dead and must be “reborn” to God and Christ in the Holy Spirit in order to see right from wrong . John 1 says “yet to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God-children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (12-13). How cunning Satan was when he told Eve she would not die. Of course he did not elaborate on the type of death, he only alluded to the death she understood, which was physical and a return to the dust of the ground.

After this heartbreaking moment, God cursed Adam and his descendants. “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:17-19). There was not a man that God could have created that would have avoided the temptations of the devil forever. God knew that in order for man to love Him, he had to give him the choice to hate him. Only true love is revealed in the choices we have. The only human who chose to love God completely and obey His every command was of God Himself. Only Jesus Christ had the wisdom and knowledge to overcome Satan while in human form, and it was not easy for Him. Surely He was God in the flesh, but He was also a man, to whom the pleasures and temptations of this earth are rarely overcome.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dining with Jesus (part 1)

It’s all about eating

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

When we sit at a table and dine together, we talk and laugh and commune with one another the way that humans were meant to share with each other. Seems these days that we spend more time eating in the car, eating in front of the television, eating alone, eating in the “closet” or just not eating at all. The nourishment of food has been lost since its original intention of communion. A true “dining experience” comes at a high price where we pay large sums of money for people to bring us plates of food for our fleeting pleasure. We rarely experience the taste and texture of food any more, it is simply to fill the empty space in our stomachs and stave off the hunger of our bellies. The foods we eat now have very little nutritional value and simply leave us fat and dissatisfied until we can find something else to ease our cravings.

The world has lost its communion with itself and with God. In the Bible, God used food to remind people of His presence and His promise to take care of us. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years being provided every meal by God. And when they complained about the fare for the day, he sent them something different! Very few fathers would relent to the childish antics of one of their own by providing a different meal when the child insolently proclaims “I don’t like that” or “I am tired of that!” Of course these days, with the ease of microwaves and pre-packaged delights, so many parents simply give in and cook those chicken fingers and French fries for the finicky child who refuses to eat the green beans on his plate.

God gave us the hunger pangs in our bellies to remind us to fill them with good things to nourish our bodies and keep us alive. I believe we have spiritual hunger pangs similar to physical ones that God also gave us as a gift to remind us to fill our hearts and minds with Him. We are supposed to commune with God, to dine with Him daily, to fill our spiritual stomachs with His Word. We have lost the knowledge that the hunger we feel is for a righteous God and now look for earthly things to fill our spiritual insides. Material possessions, sex, empty religions, other humans, and even food are the things we believe that we crave to stave off the spiritual hunger that we feel. Of course, we never get full. We just keep stuffing it in at an ever-increasing pace only to become more and more empty inside. We are literally obese and starving to death at the same time!

Food was obviously important in the Bible. God carefully crafted man as a machine that had to be fueled to remain running at its peak. This daily eating was a way to remind ourselves of our humanity and God’s infinity. We are His creation and we can only survive on His terms. The intricacies of our bodily systems and the pleasure we derive from fueling our bodies with food are no accident. God intended to parallel our physical desires with our spiritual desires. It is perhaps the only way He had to allow us to understand the greater knowledge that awaits us upon our rebirth into the Kingdom.