I know many photographers, one of which is a close friend. I remember telling him that the beauty of photography is “catching the moment.” A good photographer knows how to make you feel like you are apart of the photo—like you are in the snapshot yourself. I think that’s the big allure of Instagram and other social media platforms. A single snapshot to portray whatever we like, reality or not. Many of us, myself included, are guilty of the selfie in the room that’s dirty but with the right angle and filter it looks flawless. I know you’ve done it too. If we’re honest, we try our best to make sure the snapshot is “perfect,” but there are times in life where there’s just no way to make it beautiful. This brings me to a bible “snapshot” that caught a not so pretty side of humanity and our internal desire. That picture is still plaguing humanity today.
The story in the Garden of Eden started out so awesome. Man and God were in full unity and harmony. The relationship between God’s created beings was natural and seamless. God laid out the instructions, and we knew our boundaries and responsibilities. Aaaaah, that sounds amazing for my type one personality! One day, another voice appeared that contradicted what God said but tugged on the inner desire we never knew we had. That desire was to be GOD and to be in control. In one conversation, we see the whole of man’s desire. We see the “snapshot” that was not so pretty.
I am a disciple of Jesus, friend, brother, pastor and to some, mentor. Every time I am having a conversation, no matter what brought it on, the answer always goes back to us answering the question of, who is in control? I know you may be feeling that tension within yourself as you read this, and that’s good. The better and best news is that God didn’t leave us to that “snapshot” as our reality. He still pursues us and desires for us to see him as Lord and break the illusion that we are in control. So how do we do that? Glad you asked! I want to lay out some practical ways I’ve learned to grow in that area.
In the gospels, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he used the phrase “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” That reveals an amazing and often forgotten core of prayer. Prayer is not about us convincing God about our agenda but aligning our lives with his agenda. We can even see our desire for control in the way we pray. A constant practice I have is making sure I pray God’s word and what he desires to see and do on the earth more than praying even for my own needs. That’s so important in this consumerist world we live in that’s even crept into the body of Christ. We attend churches for what can be done for us versus seeing God’s will accomplished through a local gathering of believers! Prayer is the place of humility, which reminds us of our utter need for God and how we are not in control. I love Jesus’s words on the sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. He said, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” That translates to, happy and fortunate are those who know they need God for they get the reality of him at work in their lives in all areas! Prayer is the vital spot for us to deal with that inner control issue.
2. The Word of God
2 Timothy 3:16 declares, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” As believers, God’s word is an authority for us. Submitting our lives to the authority of scripture is a sure way to rid ourselves of the illusion of control, and it will definitely help us fight the sin of pride and rebellion against God. Most of us say with our lips that we submit to God’s word but actually rarely abide by it. Especially in the times where its authority contradicts what we want to do or what we feel. I know that reality first hand. I fight daily to renew my mind to see it God’s way; his way is in his word.
3. Authentic & Biblical Community
One of the hardest places to fight the temptation of control is with community. We not only want to be in control but we want to truly control others. God, in his faithfulness and brilliance, made each of us unique, diversely gifted, and crafted this life for us to have to need others. Of these three points, this is the one I struggle with the most, but I’ve found such freedom in my life in my community. Authentic and Biblical community is vital to the believer's life. We live in a world that is far from God and encourages us to follow our own patterns and feelings. We need others who will be tangible expressions of God’s love and truth and will point us back to him—people who will love us enough to say the hard things and remind us of the authority and truth of scripture. Proverbs 27:17 is one of my favorite verses on our need for each other. It states, “Iron sharpens Iron, and one man sharpens another.”
There are many practical things we can do to combat the “snapshot” that was taken of humanity, in Genesis 3, but that’s all for now. I pray this edifies you to truly continue the process of sanctification and allow God to be in his rightful place, on the throne of our hearts!