Part Two (to read Part One, click here)
Having “my own religion” was a bit of a bust. But I pressed on, determined like Adam and Eve to discern good and evil for myself. I was currently pondering the Eightfold Path of Enlightenment, a rigorous rule of life only Buddhist nuns and monks seem to follow fully. I was proud of my ability to comprehend esoteric concepts, and yet…
I kept thinking about that need for a Father. Then one night, while skimming TV channels, I stumbled upon (or was led to) a hopelessly corny religious program. My attention was arrested by a mentally handicapped young man who was giving his testimony. “God loves me just as I am!” he said as tears streamed from his eyes. And I sat down on my coffee table and began to weep. Why? Because I’d suddenly realized that a true heavenly Father would do just that, would make a way for all of his children, not just the ones who understood esoteric teachings and followed arduous mystical paths.
He would make a way.
In Matthew 18:1-3, right after Jesus predicts his own death, the Apostles argue about which of them is “the greatest.” Jesus stands a child between them and says, “I tell you this, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven!” How could it be any other way? We are all children. The greatest thinkers in human history are but toddlers (less than that, befuddled ants) in comparison to an infinite God. Would you send a toddler to make their own way? No! God is the Father we never outgrow.
We are not equipped to do this ourselves.
Amazingly, in Luke 22, after what we know as the Last Supper, the Apostles argue again about who is the greatest! Seeing their “I’ll do it my own way” pride, Jesus tells them, in essence, Stop! Get your eyes off of you! But how? He offers this: Take My life into you (represented in communion) and die to that false self you’ve created. Let me give you back the life you threw away in the Garden, the unbroken communion with your Father; and let that life flow through you to others (represented by the humble act of foot washing). And that, by the way, is your answer to the question, “Who is the greatest?”
The next day, He died to save us from us, from our false independence. Because going “our own way,” having “our own religion,” doing “what is right in our own eyes” is killing us. It didn’t work for Adam and Eve. It didn’t work for the Hebrews. And it sure didn’t work for me. Has it worked for you?
Through Jesus, God made a way for us to be truly childlike again, to return to the Garden. Because we don’t need a Father-concept. We need a Father.
And Jesus made a way.