It’s a traditional, worn-out cliché that every young person ends up asking his peers and elders, at some point: So…which came first – the chicken or the egg?
As I was trying to think of a clever and humorous comeback, his Spirit unexpectedly directed me and I stated, It had to be the chicken. God created the chicken, which had the built-in ability to lay eggs, and when the chicken started doing what chickens were created to do, you got an egg. She looked at me a little blankly, clearly caught by surprise. I clarified that she did believe that God created the chicken, not that it had morphed from a lizard or something, and she confirmed that yes, she believed that. Then she added, Well, I think that God created the egg first, and then when it hatched, we got the chicken.
Twelve can be such a contrary age. But I have lived twelve years several times over, and so I persisted: Eggs have to be kept warm so they can hatch; if there’s no chicken, how does the egg get warmed so that the baby chick can mature enough to crack the egg open? That threw her. She thought. And she thought. By the time she started sharing far-fetched suggestions, I knew God was making this a teachable moment and there was a point. So I continued, It has to be the chicken first, because God doesn’t create orphans. If a created egg popped onto the earth and was kept warm by any of those ideas you had, it would have no parents, no one to feed it, or care for it, or to protect it from the cold or predators. It just doesn’t reflect the loving heart of God to create an orphan and abandon it.
The loving heart of God. Pretty profound, to have emerged from a chicken-or-egg conversation.
But then the brain-gears started turning and I thought about how often people do feel that they are abandoned, uncared for, unprotected from the heartless cold of the world and the world’s predators…and the circumstances around them confirm that belief.
Enter “the scheme,” touched upon lightly, last week. “Scheme” is an interesting word. Dictionary.com states its root is from the Latin word “schema” and the definition circa mid-1500’s was simply a ‘diagram of the position of celestial objects.’ The more common and negative connotation of “scheme” evolved nearly 200 years later.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “…so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”(NASB) In the time frame that “scheme” primarily referred to celestial alignments, the 1599 Geneva Bible offers this translation of the same verse: “lest Satan should circumvent us: for we are not ignorant of his enterprises.” The footnote to “enterprises” reads, “of his mischievous counsel and devilish will.” (1599GB)
I am a bit captured by that phrase, “lest Satan should circumvent us” – and I think the reason I find it so appealing is because it reflects the supposition that we are the force on this earth that must be reckoned with…not vice versa. Think about that for just a minute. We – as His living representatives, ambassadors for Christ – are the ones to be reckoned with, because we have been planted by God as extensions of Himself. It sounds amazingly like walking and living out the prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10, NASB)
Paul clearly describes those who enable “the schemes of the devil” as “rulers…powers…world forces of this darkness…spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12, NASB) Yet for all this elaborate description, the entire hierarchy appears to support a single strategy: schemes. Mischievous counsel. Devilish will.
There’s a reason for so much energized tunnel-vision. In the book,Jesus and the Undoing of Adam, C. Baxter Kruger described our vision of “seeing Jesus” as affected by “…ideas and concepts, our categories, assumptions and notions, (which) function together as a pair of glasses, as it were, through which we perceive and make sense of our world.” *
I believe that herein lies a crucial, lockstep connection between our lives and “the schemes of the devil”: the enemy’s hierarchy works diligently to so impact and mold those ideas, concepts, categories and assumptions, creating and implementing “mental baggage” of all kinds, so that he, our adversary, is the optician creating and dispensing the very pair of glasses we put on every morning.
That is a breath-taking thought. At least, it takes my breath away. Whoa. In fact, it’s almost staggering. We wear those lenses when we’re seeking God. We wear them when we’re not. We wear them during our conversations with others, and we count on them in deliberating every decision we make. Kruger states they are glasses “through which we perceive and make sense of our world.”*
Do we really want to wear perceiving-and-sense-making-glasses prescribed by our enemy?
I would think not. It’s the loving heart of God that constantly encourages us to refine our vision through thoroughly embracing Jesus. Kruger points out, “It is not surprising therefore that the New Testament is filled with the constant command to repentance.” With a little dot-connecting, I see this pointing out a deeper meaning in Paul’s writing, “…the kindness of God leads you to repentance…”(Rom. 2:4, NASB, italics added) As we deliberately “repent,” turn away from our thinking and embrace His thinking…the lenses become a little clearer. Each and every time.
His kindness invites us to exchange lenses formed by the enemy for lenses formed by Him, with His loving heart exposed and calling to us. As Jesus wept before Jerusalem, He said, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” (Matt. 23:37, NASB)
The egg would never have come first…. *Jesus and the Undoing of Adam, C. Baxter Kruger,author