Long before Matt Williams was the third-base coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks, he played the “hot-corner” for the San Francisco Giants. And he was my hero. I remember sitting in Candlestick Park, the wind whipping the sand from the infield all the way to the upper-deck, dreaming of wearing number nine, fielding short-hops, and hitting home runs just like my favorite player. I wanted to be just like him. I would emulate his stance, I would wear his number, and I would watch his every move, if I could be just like him.
I wonder what Adam thought about the God who would “walk with him in the cool of the day.” Did he mimic his steps? Did he admire his creation? Did he pattern himself after the Lord?
We all have people that we would love to be like. Maybe we are inspired by their passion for the Lord. Maybe we are challenged by their fierce determination to succeed. Maybe we are impressed by their grace under pressure. Whatever the reason is, we admire them. We want to be like them. But there is a fine line between emulating somebody and coveting their role in the world. When we are kids, we understand the difference.
It never occurred to me that I should be in the lineup over Matt Williams. I loved that he was our third-baseman. But as we grow, the line seems to vanish. Do I truly admire those who “have it made”, or am I jealous for their position in life? Do I pattern my life after a Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Martin Luther King Jr., or do I long to be revered like them? Do I admire the president, aware though I am of his imperfections, or do I crave the power he has?
The line may be hard to see, but it is there after all. At some point, Adam lost sight of this line, as well. He lost his child-like wonder, his contentment with letting God be God, and as he took the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the first Man wrestled for the control of his reality. He would be in charge, just as the serpent had promised.
In his desire to advance to a state of God-like-ness, Adam abandoned the very meaning of humanity. He was not made to control, to dominate, to be judge. He was made to live in happy submission to the rule of God. We were made to adorn his creation, and we are not content with adorning. We would rather dominate. We have abandoned what it means to be human.
And this is the beauty of Jesus living among us. If you look at his story, especially as his friend John told it, you see what it means to be human. Over and over and over again he submits his will and life over to his Father. He points to him as his source of strength. His miracles attest to his Father’s power. His mercy attests to the Father’s love. His submission brings us to wonder, “who is this Man?” And he calls us today to decide. Will we rejoice in God’s power, or will we fight for it? Will we embrace God’s kindness, or will we enslave ourselves to pity? Will we strive to be like God or will we celebrate a God who calls us simply to be women and men?
Are we happy that God is God, whatever our circumstance, or are we anxious, fearful, bitter, and jealous? There is a fine line between wanting to be like somebody and, well, wanting to be like someone. May the line between the two be a little clearer.
And may you be in awe that God is for you.