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March 14, 2019

The Latch (2 of 5)

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To continue the imagery of the gate, the latch on the gate keeps it shut. Pull as hard as we wish, we can't open the gate. But as we'll see, God is willing to reach down and unlatch the gate for us, so we can walk through.

John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

This famous verse begins by affirming that there is a God and that he is not an impersonal force like “fate” or “Mother nature” or “the Force.” He is a personal God, a God who loves. And this loving God created the world. And when he had finished creating the universe and the galaxies and the stars and the earth with its oceans and sky and plants and bears and moose and Coyote Rock, he created people, our first parents, Adam and Eve, and put them in paradise.

You and I are not some freak chance of nature; we're not the result of some primordial scum mysteriously washing up on the beach. Regardless of how God specifically created us, he created us intentionally, with order and purpose, to be loved. 

We are, in fact, his crowning achievement, because we and we alone were created in his image. This means that in some way we “look” like him. We reflect God horizontally to each other, and we reflect God, vertically, back up to him. Basically, the “image” is those qualities that allow us to have a relationship with our Creator, to be his friend. 

But then something terrible happened. God had given Adam and Eve one rule, just one rule, and they broke it. All relationships have rules. Spouses are to be faithful. Friends are to treat one another with grace. Co-workers are to be honest. This's just the way relationships are. 

When Adam and Eve broke the rules of their relationship with God (we call this "sin"), the relationship was damaged, and now Adam and Eve and all their descendants live outside of a relationship with God, separated. The latch is shut and we can't force open the gate.

So where does that leave us? If we live separated from God, from all that is good and pure and lovely and majestic, and if we continue like this through life, then we will die separated from God. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). And to die separated from God means that we are forever separated from him, and from all that is good and lovely.

The good news, as we will see next time, is that God has reached down and wants to unlatch the gate for you. But for now, reflect on the latched gate and what that means.

Discussion questions

1. Have you ever felt like you were less than the apex of creation? Have you ever felt like you are a mistake and are without purpose? Have you ever felt that you are not loved? How did that thinking affect you?
2. What are the ways in which the world says the gate is not latched, that anyone can walk through on their way to God?
2. Briefly, what have you done to make sure that the latch stays locked? What does the imagery mean?
3. How did you come to understand that you were not able to open the latch by yourself?
4. How did it feel to know you were outside of the gate, outside of a relationship with God?
5. Why is it so important to understand all this? Why did we have to talk about separation before we could talk about healing the relationship?

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

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