Before the Apple

My pastor gave me Steve McVey’s book, Grace Walk a while back. God was obviously waiting until I got myself freed up enough to listen before He allowed me to pick up this book, and when I did I was ready to hear what He had to say. I can’t begin to outline it all here, but this one was important. Let’s see if I can illustrate.

Do you have a fashion magazine lying around somewhere? Look at the cover. (Guys, you’ll have to insert your personal envy-poison here whether it’s a hot-rod or a power tool.) Beyond admiring what you see on the cover, do you begin an instant inventory of comparison? My inner dialogue usually says, “I wish I had her hair”, “I wish I were that thin”, “I wonder if Goodwill has that dress”. It isn’t conscious and it only goes on long enough for me to find myself an utter failure in comparison and hide the magazine.

This, my friends, is the purpose of the Law. Law, capital L as in, you are a L-oser! (Insert picture of me holding my finger and thumb against my forehead.) Read this:

But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.” Romans 7:8-11

The Law is our Christian fashion-rag glamour doll meant to make us feel like Kathy of cartoon fame. (Or for you guys, Tim the Tool man Taylor to Bob Villa.) Paul goes on to say that the Law isn’t bad just because it makes us aware of what a failure we are, but indeed we would not know what is bad or good if it weren’t for the Law. The purpose of the Law was to paint a picture of sinless perfection, and the picture there is of Jesus, not me.   

Enter Adam and Eve. Did it ever occur to you to wonder why they didn’t know they were naked until they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Until then they never had any reason to look at themselves*. There was no comparison, no standard, and no expectation except to walk with God in the cool of the evening. Once they had knowledge of the two opposing forces, there was comparison, and comparison almost always becomes self-focused. We begin to ask ourselves, ‘Who cares what two things look like opposed to each other, what do I look like compared to them both?’ We weigh and measure, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we come out on the losing end every time. No matter how we might justify.

Part of what God is teaching me is that I don’t want to fix my hair, and buy that dress, and lose 10 pounds in order to be a sorry imitation of the real thing. I’m tired of being determined to stop speeding, or swearing when I’m mad, or saying unkind things in haste and irritation. I don’t want to resolve to love more, sacrifice everything, and pick up my cross.

I. Am. Tired. Of. Me.

I will never look like that. I can never do those things. Only Christ can.

I don’t want to be like Christ.

I want Christ to BE.

I think there is only one way for that to happen and that is to return to the truth before the apple (or whatever the fruit was, let’s not quibble). The truth then was that life and breath was simply to walk with God in the cool of the evening. There is simply no reason to look at myself when I know what I will see. There is only One who deserves my attention. Everything else is less. Everything else is loss.

*This epiphany brought to you courtesy of Grace Walk, Steve McVey.