January 13, 2017 | by: Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: Theology
I was enjoying my morning devotion while savoring a nice dark roast cup of java when I heard it. It was a muted and thumping sound like hydraulic equipment driving pilings into the ground or some such thing. No. It was a human wielding a machete, tossing lopped off roots from a hole while his coworkers were digging a humongous six-foot deep grave in my front yard! Always curious about why someone is being buried on my property, I went outside to get the lowdown. As it turned out, these guys were grave diggers from AT&T. They had descended on my property to repair the connection to some fiber optic thingamajig that was intercepting signals from the main box across the street. But of course, it had to be in my yard where the faulty culprit was hiding. Why all the root chopping? Months ago I had a large oak tree taken down in the front yard. However, the root system was still slithering around way sub-terraferma and some roots had snagged the fiber optic line, disrupting it.
So, AT&T descended on my front yard like an advent (small “a”) during the Advent season. They came, they appeared, they dug, they chopped, they repaired, they vamoosed. There was an enormous difference though. At the end of 2016 I was blessed by the celebration of Jesus’ First Advent and promise of His Second Advent with its visual and verbal reminders. After this “advent” my only hope was that I would never see these dudes again anywhere close to my front yard. Then again, God bless them. Someone had to do it. After all, who can live without cable, right?
As they were near completion, I was told that the mounds of dirt would be shoveled back into this monstrous cavity and any destroyed grass replaced with AT&T supplied sod. Yay! The universe would be back on track. A restored lawn.
Indeed! Upon seeing those disrupting and useless roots neutralized, I told the guys to throw them right back in that hole where they belonged. The process brought me to the notion of original sin and our personhood. There seems to be this drive for discovering our “identity,” who we really are. The flip side is dealing with the personal brokenness that’s hindered the colossal mining operation to dig out all of its pieces, all the roots, which might lend some understanding about who we are and why we are this way. There’s nothing wrong with the search in and of itself. But is there a time when it ought to end? When does a risk of such drilling down become obsessive? At the end of the day, God has revealed the granddaddy root from which all its gnarled, tangled, and other ugly offshoots stem: original sin. Reformed theology nails it with the term: Total Depravity. Okay, it’s kinda theological and technical sounding, academic, even condemning. Whatever it is you know when you hear it there’s something not good about it. Scary. What does it mean? In a nutshell, it’s the doctrine that human nature is thoroughly corrupt and sinful as a result of The Fall (Gen. 6:5; Jer. 13:23; Rom. 3:10-11, 8:7-9; Eph. 2:3b; 1 Cor. 2:14). (see blog: 52 Words Every Christian Should Know - Word 22: Depravity)
At the very beginning of creation God informed us of our identity—men and women made to reflect the glory of God and be in His likeness, without moral corruption or tainted thinking. And, thereby, to multiply and geographically expand His glory. At its core it was relational. However, the sweet and uninterrupted communion with God as a result of The Fall corrupted that relationship. Since our identity was all wrapped up with unadulterated communion with God, the broken relationship made mankind physically and cognitively broken in its moral and spiritual core. The Fall not only brought physical and spiritual death but also an inability to comprehend who we were created to be; i.e., our created identity. It can be understood in the Genesis 3 account of the fall of mankind. Romans 1 Paul provides an account of the complete devolution of mankind’s original identity.
However, God loves what He has made (Gen.1:31), and always wants to heal the intrusion of brokenness that has entered His creation. He wants to restore our identity.
Nevertheless, searching for the roots of brokenness has gained a degree of popularity in our time, even in the church. I don’t quite understand why. Perhaps it’s because we are living in a culture of the therapeutic, unrestrained in our self-absorption, or just plain disappointed that we’re not who we think we want to be. Maybe it’s just a hole that’s begging to be filled. Be that as it may, God has provided the answer through Jesus. (John 3:16)
Admittedly, at times I’ve tried to dig into deeper lays of my inward life to get at the roots of my insecurities, phobias, and “the reason I do what I don’t want to do and don’t do what I want” (or know what I ought to do.) However, feeling like an amateur archeologist stepping onto a layer of shifting sand, the unsteadiness it brings has only been set right by the truth of the Gospel. God has sent His Son to chop up the granddaddy root of my brokenness and, by extension, its tentacles that try to gnarl the understanding of my new identity. Yet, gracious God that He is, He has allowed me to keep my individual personhood, my personality. Yes, even my goofiness.
That’s why during those times when my thoughts attempt to sift through the psychic rubble of past brokenness, God’s loving grace reminds me that it should remain what it is—rubble. Since God has no need to gruelingly go over and over it again, why should I? That rubble is like those roots that needed to be tossed back into the bottom of the hole in my front yard where they belong. Hopefully the sod will take hold and the hole that is no more will be as if it never was. That’s the promise of God when it comes to Gospel. The beautiful covering of Christ is continually taking hold until one day there will never be a memory of a gaping hole. (see blog: 52 Words Every Christian Should Know - Word 43: Sanctification)
Meanwhile, God has blessed with the covering of Christ. And with His first Advent, ministry, death, and resurrection He has claimed you and me who believe, putting the granddaddy root of our brokenness in its vanquished place and enabled us to bury its useless tentacles. Blessings of blessings, Christ has repaired the cause of the rift in the divine and human relationship, providing the fresh connection with God by repairing the disruptive power of sin. If we must dig, let’s do it by digging deeper into the character of God where we take our focus off ourselves and experience the new life we’ve been given.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.