The Big Picture – Act Two: The Fall
Spiritual growth is not only about coming back into a relationship with God and each other, and about pursuing a pure life, but it is also about coming back to life—the life God created for people to live. This life of deep relationship, fulfilling work, celebration and more, gives us the life we desire and solves our problems. As Paul says, we are “separated from the life of God” (Ephesians 4:18). We must be reconciled to life the way it was created to work. The essence of the book How People Grow covers how we believe this process works. But to get started let’s take a look at the way God created life (Creation), what happened to that life (the Fall), and what God has said about getting it back (Redemption).
Last time we talked about Act One: The Creation, this time let’s look at what happened when the created order was reversed in Act Two: The Fall.
Act Two: The Fall
Reversing the Order
The next act in the cosmic drama happened after Creation. Adam and Eve did not continue in the design that we saw earlier. They decided that God’s design was not for them and that they would do things their own way. In one fell swoop, they reversed the entire created order.
The Tempter came along and told them they could live apart from God, have control of their own lives, and have it in their own way. They could be to themselves all that God was to have been to them.
But, as we know, this was a lie. The man and woman did not become like God at all. Instead, in trying to become God, they became less of themselves. This is why we need spiritual growth. We have become less than we were created to be.
In short, they lost it all. They lost themselves, each other, and the life they were created to have. They overturned the entire design and look what happened:
- They became independent from the Source. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree, they moved away from God and tried to gain life apart from him. They thought they could get knowledge and wisdom apart from the Source. They no longer needed him and had taken a step away from their role of dependency.
- They lost their relationships. In addition to becoming independent from God, they lost their relationship with him as well as with each other. This is what death is. When God said they would die, he meant that they would be separated from him who is life. The relationship and intimacy they had with their Creator was lost: they had become separated from him.They also lost their other primary relationship, the one with each other. Instantly they became “naked and ashamed” and covered themselves with fig leaves. Their intimacy and vulnerability had been lost, and their ability to trust each other and have good relationship was lost. From that point one, we see humans trading trust, fairness, love and honesty with each other for alienation, unfairness, adversarial relationships and dishonesty. Love became much harder to find and sustain.
- They reversed the structure and order. In the creation, God was on top, and Adam and Eve answered to his authority. But in the Fall, humans tried to usurpt that structure and become their own boss. They tried to become “like God.” In short, they became self-sufficient, controlling people who were judgmental and lived by their own rules.
- They reversed the roles.
Here are the roles as God created them:
God Humans He is the Source. We depend on him. He is the Creator. We are the creation and cannot exist unto ourselves. He has control of the world. We have control of ourselves. He is the judge of life. We are to experience life. He designed life & its rules. We obey the rules and live the life he designed.
Here is a snapshot of how the roles changed after the Fall:
The Desire The Result We are the source. We depend on ourselves. We are the creator. We exist unto ourselves. We have control of the world. We try to control our world and lose control of ourselves. We design life and the rules. We live any way we want to.
In the Fall, humans tried to reverse these created roles in their attempt to become like God. We, as the offspring of Adam and Eve, stopped depending on God and tried to become the source of life for ourselves. We stopped seeing ourselves as creatures and acted as if we could live apart from our Creator. We desired to control things we could not control, including each other, and we lost control of ourselves. We tried to become the judge, and we ended up being judgmental instead; we lost our ability to experience life and each other by exercising the very judgment we desire. We stopped obeying God’s design and rules and made up our own.
In other words, Adam and Eve tried to become God, and in the process they lost themselves. In trying to become what they could never be—God—they lost their ability to be what only they could be—themselves. And we have been search for ourselves ever since.
Fortunately, God did not allow things to stay that way. He had another plan. Come back next week for Act Three: Redemption.
Taken from How People Grow, © Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend, Zondervan 2001
This article is part 3 in a series of Feature Articles adapted from How People Grow.
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