Bean Soup: Day 3
God looks down from heaven and on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God…
Recently, a friend and I met for a catch-up lunch. As so often happens, the conversation drifted to events in the lives of our children and grand-children. Soon we were enveloped in the low-frequency melodrama that is modern family life, along with the seeming inability, in many areas, to do much about any of it. (And mothers hate not being able to fix things!). Then I looked at my friend and said, “We shouldn’t be surprised. Can you name one family in the Old Testament that wasn’t dysfunctional?” She thought about it for a moment, then agreed.
At the very least, the Old Testament is a narrative of the on-going mess that is the human race. In its pages, we see every form of pride, envy, jealousy, errors in judgment and old-fashioned depravity that one can imagine. Through its narrative we also learn that it will not go well for those involved in these situations.
It doesn’t take long-- Genesis 3, to be exact—to see where the problem started: At a certain point in history, two people who would be the parents of the human race, decided to veto the clearly stated directive of their Creator because their idea seemed better. In so doing, they set in motion a chain of events that altered their outer reality—thorn, thistles and death—and their inner reality—sin, separation from each other and Creator. Ever since, these two bents have been imprinted on the DNA of humanity and inherited by all of mankind, just as surely as their eye color or adult height.
The Old Testament tells us the absolute truth about ourselves and God. He is not our buddy or a lifeline to call in tough times. He is the only One who can restore and renew us to what we were meant to be and what we, in our best moments, desire to be.
If we don’t understand the true nature of a problem, then we can’t comprehend our need for the answer. Without the Old Testament background, Jesus Christ’s coming can easily become the story of a good man who was treated poorly, but ultimately vindicated by God.
We need to see ourselves as the inheritors of the Old Testament narrative. That our story, just as surely as the Old Testament progenitors, reveals our bent to selfishness and wrong-thinking. That it is our fallen nature that God had in mind when He sent his Son to make things right.