I was admiring the beauty of the moon one night. How bright and how beautiful it is. How it lights up the night sky and even though there is darkness all around, the moon gives off just enough light to illuminate our path and keep us from stumbling in the darkness. We are fascinated by the moon and have spent a lot of time and money exploring it but have not found any way to sustain life on it’s surface. According to Genesis 1:14-17, the moon was created with the sole purpose of providing light to “rule the earth at night”. It actually has no light or heat source of it’s own and is no match for the sun in all of it’s power, yet it simply stays aligned in place and reflects light from the sun. This is what it was created to do.
We are like the moon. We were made in the image of God to cultivate and keep the earth according to Genesis 2:15. Like the moon, we have no light of our own, but our beauty is seen when we reflect the light of the Son. When we do this we help illuminate the path in a very dark world. We have no power of our own to sustain life because we didn’t create it. The intelligence and creativity that we do have is only what God has given us, yet even that is no match for God. We are not even the centerpiece of his creation, but merely a tiny reflection of our creator. Yet the tendency of our sinful nature causes us to elevate our value and treat ourselves like the main event. We easily forget that we were created out of dust for God’s purpose, and instead adopt the attitude that God is somehow here to serve our purposes. Of course we would never say that, but our attitudes reflect our hearts through our expectations. Our expectations often reveal a backwards application of God’s design. It’s an attitude that says “It’s my life. I can do whatever I want with it”. This is not only devastating to our lives, but it sheds some light on why the theme throughout the gospel is about taking the focus off of ourselves. This is not a self-hatred message, but taking the focus off ourselves continuously points us back to Jesus and the result is fulfillment. The paradox is that we will not find fulfillment by chasing after our own fulfillment. We can’t even follow Jesus with the goal of finding fulfillment or we miss the point entirely. Matthew 16:25 says “For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting].” It’s important to note that he is talking about losing our lives for him, not as a slave to anything or anyone else.
So what is it about self-focus that causes so much devastation? Like the moon, we have no light (goodness) of our own. We are in big trouble when we are left to our own devices because we will serve our selfish desires to our own destruction. Like the moon, we were created to reflect what we are aligned with. God made himself the center so that we would stay aligned with him. Not because he is egotistical, but because he is perfect. He is steady and unchanging. He does not waiver or change his direction. James 1:17 says “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” It seems pretty important that the one holding our universe into place would be steady and unmoving. In his perfection is balance and order, and where there is order there is peace, and where there is peace there is fulfillment. To our sinful nature, this feels backwards so we have to discipline ourselves to keep our focus off ourselves and onto God. We can never be perfect like God, but as long as our focus is on him we will reflect him. When that focus begins to drift, we begin to reflect the things we give ourselves over to. This causes an imbalance and fills our lives with turmoil. The only remedy for this is to re-align ourselves with the Son and give ourselves over to him completely. When we surrender our selfish desires and let his light shine on the dark places of our hearts we can be free. When we are aligned with him and reflecting him, we are not only fulfilled, but we are fulfilling our purpose and illuminating the path in a very dark world. Galations 5:16-24 “But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature an d the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.”