“If you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story, and to start with ‘secondly.’” – Chimamanda Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story
She further states, “Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story.
Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.”
And starting mankind with creation, and not the sin of Adam and fall of mankind, and we have an entirely different story of Humanity.
I was raised believing that man was fallible, sinful by nature, in need of a savior, because of the fall.
And to that, I don’t necessarily disagree, but I also seems to be incomplete.
If we start mankind off with Adam taking a bite from the forbidden fruit, then it is easy to see mankind as a constant rebellion of its creator. As sinners by birth.
But that’s not where the story begins.
The other day, Judah was working on his summer project: Discovering Stars. His first leg of research was to watch a National Geographic documentary and then jot down any information in one of three categories: 1. What I learned, 2. What I think I disagree with, and 3. What questions I now have. When he was finished watching, he made a PowerPoint then had me read it through. It was awesome, and enlightening.
Under the second section, “What I think I disagree with,” he wrote, “It [the documentary] said we are created from stardust but I disagree because we were made in the image of God.”
Made in the image of God.
That’s the beginning, that’s where the story
starts, with mankind being made in God’s image!
That means before we were sinners, we were creators, builders, and critical thinkers. We were kind, thoughtful, helpful, loving, passionate, curious, expressive, and joyful.
And we were relational.
Just like Him.
Then sin entered the world . . . secondly.
This matters because it affects the way we see and interact with the people around us. If mankind is to be totally depraved and incapable of doing anything good, then that is what we come to expect and, more importantly, that is how we view the actions of others.
If we start with the fall, then we limit the intentions of others pretty quickly, build walls and create divisions because it’s hard to warm up to someone who thinks everything you’ve ever done and will do is selfish and wrong and purposeless, that is, until you’re saved. Which isn’t true (more on this later).
Starting with the fall and seeing everyone as totally depraved also steals away from God and his beautiful creation.
A creation made in His image.
Is man that powerful that he can make one choice that completely overrides all that God had done?
Or could it be that man, created in God’s image DOES AWESOME AND BEAUTIFUL THINGS because of his creator. But because man isn’t God, he failed to live like the one true God and is now in need of Him further – through Christ.
All goodness (beauty, art, kindness, order, etc.) comes from Him, but because we are imperfect (believers and nonbelievers alike can easily look around and agree on that), we are in need of help from of a savior who is perfect. And doesn’t that honor Him even more?
I think so, but it also changes the way we see one another
The way we treat one another.
And it just makes sense. How can we look around the world and possibly think that only goodness or beauty comes from believers?
It’s like being told as a kid, “If you play in the street, you’ll get hit by a car,” or, “if you have sex before marriage, you’ll either get AIDS or one of you will get pregnant.”
When we tried either or both and nothing bad happened, we questioned the “truth,” because it didn’t line up with reality – at least not all the time. I did get hit by a car on more than one occasion, but the odds were still in my favor.
“Nonbelievers” do some pretty awesome, kind, beautiful, and amazing things. Just like their Creator.
Like paint the Wanderer Above the Sea Fog, by Caspar David Friedrich
Or do this: Three survivors of the Colorado movie-theater massacre escaped with minor wounds, but were left with broken hearts because their heroic boyfriends died saving them . . .
And a myriad of other things.
Things that mimic their creator, things that should change the way we see one another.
Chimamanda Adiche states, “Describe a people as one thing, and one thing only, and that is what they become.” Humanity, described as totally depraved and totally depraved only, from birth, will become totally depraved.
But the Story, our story, doesn’t begin with the fall of mankind. It’s just one of many moments of conflict that reveal the true nature of man, which is this: We are not God, and because we are not, we need His son.
This is classic story telling!
But like all good stories, one must start from the beginning, because that’s where the Author sets the scene and provides the backdrop for the characters
and their journey.
If you want to dispossess a people, start with secondly, but if you want to enrich them, start from the beginning.
For in the beginning, God created male and female . . . in His image.
And it was very good.