Finding Our Way Back to God
By Dr. Don England (a recent essay from my chemistry professor from long ago)
During the summer of 1982 our family made a 23-night camping trip to the West Coast and back. It was great family time that none of us will ever forget, and a trip on which we experienced many wonderful sights. I had, for many years, wanted to sit on the rim of the Grand Canyon at sunset and, as we did, I experienced the anticipated peace of the moment. I thought, “This is the way things are supposed to be.” Later in our trip, we went to Glacier Point overlooking Yosemite Valley and Half Dome. There were several other people there and, as we walked up to a favorite viewing location, you could not help but notice that there was reverence in the air as everyone spoke in whispered tones as if they were in church or a cathedral. Again I thought, this is the way things are supposed to be.
Twenty years later my granddaughter was born, and my wife and I were privileged to be in the hospital room to welcome her minutes after her birth. As I held her in my arms, she opened her eyes full wide and I felt an indescribable presence that I had not known before and I knew that this is the way things are supposed to be. But, in each treasured instance, I was quickly drawn back into reality knowing that the world in which we live is not the world that was supposed to be. That is because the world in which we live is a world estranged from God and greatly in need of reconciliation to Him.
Eden was the way things were supposed to be. However, had we been in Eden, we would have done what Adam and Eve did. I say that because each day we repeat the drama of Eden as we make choices just as they did. Consequently, whether it was Adam and Eve or you and I, we would have needed God to do something to enable our reconciliation to him because of our estrangement due to sin. We needed God to do something for us because we were incapable of doing what needed to be done. What God did was to pursue us all the way to Calvary. (Rom 5:6-11)
There is perhaps no higher acclaim given to Christ than that found in Colossians 1:15-23 which would be good for the reader to pause and read before proceeding. Here the inspired Apostle states that the fullness of the invisible God fully indwelt Christ, the creator of all things, and that He is the one through whom and by whom all things in Heaven and earth were reconciled to God. Furthermore, the reconciliation was gained through Christ’s physical body and the shedding of His blood on the cross and not through anything that we could do. The result of reconciliation was that peace between God and man was once again enabled and, through the work of Christ, the possibility of the idyllic relationship that humanity once had with God in Eden is now again possible.
Although the initiative for reconciliation and the work of reconciliation are God’s and Christ’s respectively, fallen man must want to return to Eden and, therefore, he must respond to God’s and Christ’s overtures through faith and obedience. God will not force anyone to return to the idyllic relationship that is possible with Him. God has pursued us all the way to Calvary, but it is up to us to respond to His pursuit. Rebellious mankind spurned the pursuit of God that did not deter God. He demonstrated that at Calvary.
The idyllic relationship with God that is made possible through God’s reconciling work in Christ is best described in the words “fellowship” and “partnership.” Although, in Eden, God was creator and man and woman were the created, they were companions and there was community among them. We again, as the result of God’s work in reconciliation, are invited to commune with God and to engage in partnership and fellowship with him in every righteous human endeavor.
Paul draws on a metaphor from the Mosaic period to describe the Christian’s relationship with his God to whom he has been reconciled. He states that following reconciliation, we are like a living, unblemished (perfect) animal sacrifice “free from accusation” (Col. 1: 22; Rom. 12:1). Our task as in Eden, is to obey God and live to the praise of His glory.