Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” [Genesis 1:26-28 NKJV]
In our image. Our likeness. Modelled in the same way we are.
God’s description of the humans He just made is unlike anything He did before. Plants, animals were all created as beings that had a measure of life to exist through His Word in them. Mankind had more than that. It had God’s own character – freewill – seared into the psyche.
The ability to choose its own destiny.
The ability to know right from wrong.
The devil knew this. It’s what made the first temptation so easy. He could see man had a choice.
But man had already made the choice. He chose to exaggerate God’s command.
When God told Adam in chapter 3 not to eat of the fruit nothing was said about touching it. Yet it appears that Adam added to the rule God had given and told Eve that even touching the fruit would result in death. So when the serpent touched the fruit and “lived” the foundation for the fall was set. The trap was primed. Eve had received the instruction second-hand, not directly from God Himself. Adam’s embellishment, made to seemingly protect, separated the rule of man from the law of God.
One rule. One law.
Destroyed by exaggeration.
Eve is deceived, but Adam is there with her as she moves in to take a bite. The one who has this chance to banish the enemy, to go to battle for his wife the way God designed him to do, falls at the first test. Instead of striking the apple from Eve’s hand and banishing the demon, he lets the temptation live.
I live, as I’ve mentioned in other articles, in South Africa. It’s a hot climate. Even in the winter time the daytime temperatures are regularly in the mid 20’s Celsius (mid 70’s Fahrenheit). It results in the height of summer in clothing becoming so small that in many cases it might as well be left off completely.
Noticing it is one thing. Allowing our thoughts to enter into more than acknowledgement is another. Flesh appears all around, some of which you are easily able to put out of your mind because it leaves a scar wanting you to gouge your eyes out – there should be a size limit on certain fabrics, particularly Lycra – and some because the young (and to be fair not-so-young) carry it well.
It’s turning for the second look that’s the trouble. That’s where noticing becomes lust, for both genders and all generations. Unfortunately for all age groups, but that’s a topic for another article.
The nature of God is to allow us freewill. He won’t step in to prevent us taking the second look because He placed it in all of us to not make it. Drawing close to Him gives the strength we need to do so. The other thing is that he places in us the knowledge that we shouldn’t tempt others to stumble by our behaviours. I work with two muslims and a hindu, my wife and I and one other partner are Christians. Yet we never have pork products in the communal fridge and the meat we – or rather I – buy for the business is halal for the sake of our relationships with our colleagues. Harmony in the workplace is vital as these little gestures speak about our sensitivity to them in a way that putting Bibles in their rooms would not. We veto any magazine with a religious theme as we are a secular business, whilst eliminating the ones which are overtly sex-focused because we are aiming at young families and frankly they don’t need, “How to improve your Orgasm” as the front page headline for their kids who just learned to read, and worse for the children coming for counselling for abuse.
We exercise free will as given to us by God to ensure there is a balance. We don’t refuse treatment to anyone based on gender, orientation, nationality or religion – let me know if I missed any and I’ll gladly add them to the list. I’ve had the opportunity as manager to interact with some amazing people from all different walks of life in the last year. I try to express my faith the way Jesus extended His, without judging the person but being aware of the action. At the end of the day, that’s where free will comes in.
Being able to separate the individual from the action.
I have gay friends and straight friends. Christian, Muslim and Hindu as well as atheist friends. I try hard not to be a different person with one than the other. I refuse to compromise my beliefs and capitulate, but we respect one another. We have more disagreements about business than religious views – which is how it should be. Slowly people eventually ask me what’s different in me as the “Christians” they know spout judgement and hell fire to them.
Not my thing as it’s not my Jesus. When He went to the synagogue in Luke 4 Jesus stopped reading as he declared the day of Jubilee. The next verse in Isaiah declares the day of vengeance of our God.
The implication is simple. For now we have a choice.
People are hungry to choose Jesus, but He’s so often misrepresented that it’s hard to find the one to give your free will to.
Some look to actions, orthopraxy, as the method of salvation. But orthopraxy alone is not enough. Paul says it best in 1 Corinthians 13:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. [1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV]
Speaking in tongues, prophecy, knowledge and even faith are worthless without love. The love referred to here is agape love – all consuming and overwhelming. Making these right actions from a wrong motive are worthless. We need the understanding to drive the action.
We need the Love. And we have been given the will to find and act on it.
Free Will. We need to exercise the Free Will Jesus gave us back after Adam surrendered it. Then, and only then, can our actions be meaningful.
Be cautious what you do with your free will. You have the power to look a second time, but the second look is planned and often motivated by ungodly lusts in both men and women.
But the choice is ours to make.