You’ve seen the plotline, in movies or TV shows, probably multiple times. It goes like this…
Mom and Dad are going on a trip. The parents are hitting the road for a little vacation, or to visit family, and they’ll be gone for a few days. They decide to leave the kids on their own. It’s the first time the kids have been trusted like this.
Before leaving, the parents lay down the rules: no parties, clean up, we expect the place to look the same when we get back. Hugs and kisses, mom and dad leave, and everything goes wrong. Maybe there’s a party, perhaps wild animals infiltrate their home, who knows what happens, but the result is the same. The house becomes a disaster.
Finally, mom and dad come home (typically earlier than expected) and everything has to be restored to the way it was before. I wonder if we see that storyline so often from Hollywood because there’s something about it that resonates with us. I think it resonates with us because we recognize it throughout the history of humanity.
The story of humanity goes something like this…
God creates the world. It’s his world, but he decides to leave it to his kids. He trusts them with it, but provides some rules: don’t sin, love each other, I expect the place to stay the same. And then everything goes wrong. Everyone sins, and all of our sins have messed up God’s world.
The Bible says it this way,
For the creation was subjected to frustration…its bondage to decay…We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly. (Romans 8:20-23)
So what does God do? We might expect him to turn his back and give up on the world in frustration. Nope. God comes to his world to make the wrong things right. God teaches us how to forgive someone because he forgives us.
His Mission to Restore
God came to his broken world, taking on human flesh, to begin a mission of restoring the world to the way it’s supposed to be. In fact, when Jesus first publicly announced his purpose he said,
The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)
It was like Jesus was announcing, “Things are wrong, and I have come to make things right. You’ve made a mess of things, but I’m here to restore things to the way they should be.”
That’s why Jesus fed hungry people, and healed the sick, and taught everyone a better way to live life and treat each other. He teaches us how to give grace to others and how to pray to God for help.
Jesus was making the wrong things right. He was returning things to the way they are supposed to be. Jesus came to clean up the mess. And, more than anything else, he came to win back our hearts.
The Creator VS. The Created
When you read through the Bible, there’s a surprising emotion ascribed to God. We’re told that God is a jealous God. You might not expect that God would be jealous, but he is. He’s jealous for our love and affection. He is jealous when we prioritize anything above him.
And that’s the problem. That’s exactly what we have done.
The Bible says we are to worship our Creator God, but instead, we tend to worship created things. Our hearts attach to having nice things, or going to amazing places, or eating good food, or having exhilarating experiences. These “other things” can become just as important, sometimes more important to us, than God.
Look at the reason God gives, in the Ten Commandments, for why we shouldn’t worship anything other than him.
You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. (Exodus 20:4-5).
God is a jealous God. He won’t share you any more than a spouse would accept their husband or wife announcing a decision to date other people. Why? Because true love doesn’t share.
A Jealous Love
When I was in high school, some close friends of my parents were going through a divorce. The wife had been unfaithful. The husband was devastated. Still, he loved his life and wanted to stay married. But the other man wanted her too. Neither of them wanted to share her. She had to make a choice.
One night my dad and I talked about the situation. I asked him, “What would you do if you were the husband?” He said, “Well, I’d go downstairs. I’d get your wooden baseball bat. I’d go over to the man’s house. I would beat down his door, and I would tell him that if he goes within 100 yards of my wife he would never walk again.”
His jealousy is demonstrated not just in the offense he takes at our idolatry, but also in his pursuit of our hearts.
I was surprised by his response. My father was a pastor and the most gentle man I knew. I didn’t understand, but I do now. I do now because that’s the way I love my wife. I love her with a jealous love. True love doesn’t share.
The Bible compares our sin, our idolatry, to cheating on God. When we sin, God is the betrayed lover. He is jealous. His jealousy is demonstrated not just in the offense he takes at our idolatry, but also in his pursuit of our hearts.
It’s like God showed up at the house, perhaps with a baseball bat, but not to punish us. He came to win back our hearts and restore our broken lives.
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