THE PRESERVATION OF SELF (PART II)
By Akin Ojumu
On the day Adam and Eve fell for Lucifer, the glorious beauty of Eden was replaced by a hideous ugliness. That was the day the pure joy that flowed from innocent hearts, devoid of doubt, was supplanted by the sure pain that grows in empty souls corrupted with forbidden knowledge.
The curtain of evil was drawn on a life of perpetual fellowship with God. Man, a native-born citizen of the Shekinah, hitherto clothed with God’s glory, was now enveloped in gory. Having fallen from grace and hidden from His Holy presence, he was nothing more than a naked fugitive alien, adorned in fig leaves, cowering at the sound of God’s voice.
How could this have ever happened? They had it going pretty good; a daily schmoozing with the Almighty, ownership of a lush estate with lots and lots of exotic beings and things, and dominion over all of God’s creation. They were crowned with prosperity in its purest form yet; in spirit, soul, and body. They lived life in fullness, in complete contentment and without a care in the world. What more could a man ask for?
Yet in one single instance they lost it all.
Why? Why did they do it? The reason they did it is the same reason that informs our choices. It is to preserve self.
“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” Luke 17:33 (cf: Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24).
They wanted to be like God. In their minds they imagined what it’ll be like being equal with God. The mouthwatering taste of the power, authority, and majesty of being god was too tempting a bait to not swallow. The intoxicating and corrosive fumes of knowledge, which is not of or from God, clouded their judgment. They were consumed by the leering and seducing flare-up of lust. Driven by the inordinate desire to preserve it all, on their own without God, they lost everything. In one fell swoop they became captives of Lucifer’s bait-and switch.
The consuming passion to preserve self is encoded in our DNA. It is evident in mankind’s entire life endeavor. You find it even in the functioning of the human anatomy and physiology. The body mounts a defense against all foreign invaders, by deploying an army of cells equipped with weapons of mass destruction, to crush the perceived enemy, all in an attempt to maintain the body’s state of equilibrium…its homeostasis…itself. This is a normal physiologic response.
Occasionally, however, this self-preserving function becomes deleterious. The body’s army often rebels, turning on the body itself, leading to devastating consequences – i.e., what’s called autoimmune diseases. You also find that some of the foreign invaders aim directly for the body’s soldiers. This particular invader, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), achieves a complete takeover of the defense cells, perpetuating itself, and effectively evading detection, capture, and destruction, ultimately leading to the death of the cells and the whole body.
And such is human life. It’s the way the heart of man operates.
We take extraordinary steps to try and save ourselves. In some people, the things we do are quite obvious, being done in plain sight. Others are much more subtle, hidden behind a veneer of nobility and cloaked in heroism. Yet, when you pull back the curtain, you’d find embedded deep within our deeds the cockatrice of self-service. This beast spits venom upon everything we touch. It poisons relationships, ruins careers, wreaks havoc in churches, brings down nations, and destroys lives.
“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature... For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7.)
Do not be deceived by appearances, things aren’t always as they seem. The human heart is desperately wicked and adept at concealing its true intentions. Be alert at all times, and don’t ever look at things at face value. Remember to always ask, “Why?” Because there’s always a motive behind every human action.