What’s a Man to Do?

By Dudley Hall Published on April 26, 2015

DUDLEY HALL — He lost his job and regardless of the endless hours of searching he could not find one. His wife had grown tired of the uncertainty and his morose attitude. She moved to her mother’s house. The IRS had laid claim to all his possessions. And on top of all that he was sick, with no medical insurance. Finally he swallowed his pride and called a pastor. After laying out his predicament, he asked, “What’s a man to do?”

It is not an uncommon or unnatural question. We are accustomed to solving our own problems. When we do ask for advice we are confident that surely there is some key that is being overlooked. It nags as us. “What can a man do to fix what is wrong?” Actually this is part of the human design. We were created to be God’s representative on earth in discovery, development and management. We read the story of Adam and Eve being given the mandate and the authority to rule over all living things in creation. Both men and women, though usually approaching things differently, thrive on overcoming obstacles.

But humans do face problems they aren’t equipped to solve alone. Their urge to solve doesn’t match their current abilities. It is a consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve. We as their descendants lost much more than we usually think. They lived in conscious awareness of God’s presence and favor. In fact, humans weren’t designed to live away from God’s recognizable presence. We were endowed with great honor, but never as isolated individuals living outside relational intimacy with God himself. In that relationship Adam and Eve had access to God’s wisdom. For instance, they could accurately classify the animals and thereby manage them. They also lived in peace with each other and creation. Life in the Garden was joyful and productive before the fatal fall. Afterwards the first pair experienced fear, shame, isolation, guilt, and confusion. We received their inheritance and followed their steps. As a result we struggle with isolation, shame and guilt. We speculate on God’s true nature and attempt to establish an uneasy truce with him and his creation. There is violence in our heart as well as among ourselves.  We live as displaced children of parents who were placed outside the place they were designed to occupy, the Garden. With our lost perspective and limited access to God, we find problems we simply can’t solve.

But, a man did something!

“But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” (Romans 5:15)

The biblical narrative reveals that another man came to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He empowers us to do what we are designed to do.

There was a new start. This new man faced the same temptations the first pair faced — but he won. He lived the life of conscious awareness of the Father, having full access to the wisdom needed to face any obstacle. He took the place outside the gates of the later Garden and bore the guilt, shame and isolation that the first Adam incurred. As a result there is an open door for children of the first Adam to become children of the last Adam. Instead of being outside of God’s knowable presence, they are “brought near.” (Hebrews 10:22) From this vantage point they can fulfill their designed destiny of representing God on earth.

It is true that our predicament was worse than we could ever appraise, but the grace of God through Jesus has restored us to something higher than we could possibly imagine. And there is more to come.  We cannot despair.

The problem we can’t solve is an opportunity to discover a grace we did not know.

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