The blessing of a climb comes with a curse or displeasure of getting to the top. You struggle to put one foot in front of the other, slowly working your way to the top of the mountain. With every step, it seems as if your pack gets heavier and heavier. You tell yourself: "You're so close... just over the top of this next ridge." You get to the top of "the next ridge" only to find out that the trail continues climbing upward. You stop and debate: "Is this even worth it?" "I should just turn back." But you press on. You put the pain on the back burner and muscle through the cramps.
Finally, you reach the top. You take a minute to catch your breath, you slide off your pack and take a swig of your remaining water. As you begin to look around the pain, struggles, and mental games all become a distant memory. The blessing sinks in as you gasp in awe of the creation that lays before you.
For those next few minutes, it seems as if the entire world comes to a halt. The worries, stress, and troubles melt away. The sounds and voices (you talking to yourself as you were climbing) in your head disappear. This settling calmness and quietness sink in, and for that moment it's as if nothing else matters. You're staring straight at The Creator (God) and listening to what He has in store for you. In a way, you've ascended to his level and are in deep connection with him.
This is the blessing in the curse (or displeasure) of climbing a mountain top. On the one hand, we didn't necessarily enjoy the struggles involved while climbing (displeasure or curse) we reaped the reward or blessings of sticking it out and getting to the top. Sometimes we don't understand the curse - why is this happening to me, what did I do to deserve this, or Is there anyone else that struggles as bad as I do? But God will use the curse or displeasure to show us/enjoy the blessings.
If you're wondering why some of the writing is in blue this indicates passages taken from Fully Packed Adventure Ministries Biblical Foundation Material authored in large part by Matt Allen FPAM Honduras Chapter Leaders and Board Member. We want to give a HUGE thank you for the time and dedication that Matt has put into this material!
OK... back to it!
Before we dive into unpacking The Blessing and The Curse lets first start with how the Bible uses Adam as a type (a person or thing symbolizing or exemplifying the ideal or defining characteristics of something):
The Bible uses Adam as a type for humanity. His attributes, purpose, and nature are typical of mankind. Through the use of Adam as a type, we understand that mankind as a race was corrupted by this original sin and as a consequence, distortion occurred in the communication between God and man.
Essentially, the distortion introduced into the human-divine relationship can be classified in two ways:
1. Original sin: This is the sinful nature that every human being is born with. This inclination results in personal sin. This nature is inherited from Adam and is evidenced from birth.
2. Personal sin: This sin is willful sin. Human beings, according to the New Covenant, have absolute universal morality encoded in the conscience. Personal sin happens when human beings cauterize their conscience, justify their sin, and willfully dishonor God and others.
Last week we talked about The Fall of mankind. This week we want to continue unpacking The Fall or Distortion and discuss The Blessing and The Curse - God's love and displeasure for His creation. We gave you something to think about, and we want to hit on it again:
With this willful disobedience (Adam and Eve choosing to eat from the Tree of Life that God commanded them not to go near), God labeled it ‘sin.' And He established a dichotomy (a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different) of The Blessing and of The Curse. These two concepts serve as a key to understanding God’s interaction with the human race throughout the Biblical narrative.
Note that Matt Allen specified that these two concepts will serve as a KEY UNDERSTANDING of God's interaction with the human race throughout the Biblical narrative.
Concept 1 The Blessing - displays God’s love and pleasure for His creation.
The Blessings from God are widely seen and enjoyed by humanity on a daily basis. Some of these blessings are unconditional, and others of them are graciously extended by God to mankind with stipulations. Some of the general blessings that God gives to mankind are:
- life and breath
- health & physical ability
- enjoyment of the created world
- nature (rain)
- relationship with other human beings
- relationship with Him
Concept 2 The Curse - expresses God’s displeasure and desire to correct His creation for rebelling against His instructions.
The Curse is a dramatic highlighting of the distortion that has taken place in the relationship between the Creator and His creation. The curse of mankind was multi-faceted:
- there was separation between God and man
- there was enmity between Satan and mankind, just as there had been between God and Satan (Genesis 3:15)
- human reproduction would become inherently painful for women (Genesis 3:16)
- man’s eternality was taken away, and death would come to mankind (Genesis 3:17-19)
- sin was now a part of human DNA and would naturally infect every descendent of Adam
- man’s lot would be to work and toil to provide for himself and his family from the blessings given by God (Genesis 3:22-24)
Let's give everyone an example of Blessing and Curse, Adam and Eve were living in God's blessing pre Tree of Life incident - living according to His will for their lives in constant communication with Him. Post Tree of Life event they entered into The Curse or God's displeasure. They stepped outside of God's will for their life i.e. our choice of exercising our free will which leads to being separated from Him.
This is how God separated the two - Blessing (living according to God's grace, love, guidance, and understanding) and Curse (mankind choosing to exercise their own free will and stepping outside of God's will in for their life). Paul clearly states that our nature and our agenda are intrinsically opposed to God’s.
Just so everyone is clear - Curse is not God raining down fire and brimstone on us for not acting accordingly. Curse means WE have WILLFULLY stepped outside his grace, love, understanding, and guidance. We are now operating on our own actions in control of our own will doing as we please i.e. we are no longer in communication with God.
Matt Allen puts it best in an analogy of children and parents:
As Adam serves as a type of the natural man, each man, and women born naturally have a heart that is turned inwardly, in selfishness. As parents, we can see this inward focus in our children from the moment of their birth. Does a child wait until morning to awaken his or her mother to be fed? No, naturally the child cries when he or she experiences hunger, not taking into account their parent's busy work schedule the following day.
Remember... our God is a jealous God. He wants all of us at all times. When stepping outside of His will for our lives, we are displeasing Him aka Curse. Our hearts are turning inwardly again. We focus all our attention on satisfying our own needs and not bringing God the glory and furthering His kingdom.
Matt Allen points out evidence of our inward focus i.e. distortion or sin:
Because we have been created in the image of God and are unique in our ability to have a relationship with God, arguably there is good in mankind. However, the Biblical view that man has been distorted by original sin and personal sin is easily supported by reading or watching the daily news. The capability of the human race to inflict pain on others is evident on a daily basis. While this seems like a negative note, it is this bad news of distortion that makes restoration with God even more precious. In the next section, we will explore the Good News that accompanies this bad news.
Before we conclude our discussion on The Blessing and The Curse, let us ask you some questions. Take a minute to read over these questions and write out your answers. Don't just simply answer Yes or No, elaborate on your answer i.e. be honest and peel back the layers.
Does doing good to others, being generous, or obeying God come easily to you? Why or why not
Is your natural tendency to do what is most convenient or most enjoyable to you? Why or why not
We couldn't put it any better then Matt: "It is this bad news of distortion that makes restoration with God even more precious."
Next week we're going to conclude our snap shot into Module 1 - Creation of Fully Packed Adventure Ministries Biblical Foundation Material with how God immediately put into action how he plans to restore/reconcile i.e. Restoration or Salvation.
Take the next couple days to meditate on this statement:
"Restoration or salvation is not through us meeting certain conditions or stipulations."
Research The Reformer John Calvin and the 5 Solas - Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Escritura (or Solo Scriptura), Solo Deo Gloria
We will unpack these five statements and more in next weeks post. For now... be in His Word daily, be in constant communication with Him (prayer), and seek to bring Him the glory and further His kingdom in all that you do daily!
Thanks and God Bless!
Photo Cred: Brandon Bohnke - FPAM Northern Indiana Chapter Leader