Chapter 3 – Our Original Design
When the Gardener found the garden hose under the bushes, he realized it would not work well in its current condition, since without a good washer it would not seal well to the faucet and water would also escape through the gashes. In such a condition, the hose would work poorly and be of little use in watering the garden. Fortunately, the Gardener had knowledge of how a new hose would work and was able to apply that knowledge to the restoration of the hose. If the Gardener had lacked this knowledge, then the restoration process would have been much more difficult and the hose may have never been able to function again according to its original design.
The Gardener’s knowledge of the hose’s original design was very helpful to his restoration of the hose. In a similar way, Jesus understands our original design, since He is the one who designed us! Fortunately, Jesus also knows all that is needed for us to grow toward functioning according to our original design! How we got to the state of being under the bushes in the first place is another matter that we will explore in the next chapter. But for this chapter, we will take a look at our original design, since if we can increase in an understanding of our original design, it will be one of the keys to our growing toward the deeper waters of friendship with Jesus and each other.
Interestingly, if the garden hose had intelligence like we do, but only knew what life was like under the bushes, then when the Gardener worked at restoring the hose to its original design, it may have wondered why the Gardener was doing such a thing – especially since the hose would begin to experience things that looked different from life under the bushes.
This raises the question of, “What is normal?” If the garden hose only knew life under the bushes, it would think such a life was normal. So if it left the shade of the bushes, was stretched out instead of being coiled, went through the repair process, was hooked up to the faucet, and had the water running through it, then it might conclude that this all seemed quite abnormal to its normal existence.
In a similar way, if we do not understand how we were originally designed to function and also why Jesus would want to restore us to that design, then it might seem abnormal to us. We might even conclude that God is trying to impose something upon us that is foreign to whom we really are, and therefore decide that we want nothing to do with it at all. So, for the rest of this chapter, we will explore two main concepts – the first concept being how we are designed to function, followed by the second concept of why Jesus would want to restore us to that design. Hopefully, with this groundwork in place, the subsequent chapters will then make a lot more sense and help us all grow toward the deeper waters of friendship with Jesus and each other.
How we are Designed
As we look at how God originally designed us to function, there are two extremes that if either is embraced will make it difficult to grow toward the deeper waters of friendship.
The one extreme is that we would function independently from God, just like the garden hose being under the bushes and away from the Gardener.
The other extreme is where we are taken over by God and cease to exist as an individual – much like a drop of water joining an ocean.
Between these two extremes is where our true design rests – at a partnership of deep friendship with Jesus.
A helpful question at this point is, “What do we bring to our partnership of friendship with Jesus, and what does Jesus bring?”
On our side of the partnership, we bring our spiritual hearts, souls, minds, and unique personalities that make us very much more unique than the unique fingerprints on our hands. We also have the ability to think, reason, interact, and more. All of these things are gifts from God, since if He did not exist and decide to create us, then we would not exist. So, our very existence is a gift from God to us, and we bring this unique existence to our partnership with Him.
If we enter into a friendship with Jesus – which we will look at the details of how to do in two chapters from now – then on Jesus’ side of the partnership, He brings many things out of His great love for us. For starters, Jesus brings His Holy Spirit to flow through us like the water flowing through the garden hose. Over time, this in turn produces what is known as the “fruit of the Spirit” which is listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” In addition to this, the Holy Spirit within us will also enhance our common sense and thinking by giving us insights into the various information coming into our senses – even insights needed to help us recognize what would be good to embrace or avoid if we are going to allow Him to help us to grow toward deeper friendships with Him and others.
Side note: Chapter three in At His Feet gives greater detail into how God can enhance our senses and teach us through this process.
It is a tremendous privilege to partner with Jesus in a deep, mutually respectful friendship. Not only do we get to participate in that friendship out of our free will, but we also get the amazing gift of partnering with Jesus in those things that are dear to His heart. To begin with, He has more love for others than we do and He allows us to join Him in having that love also. So, when His love begins to flow through us, we then grow in our love for Him, ourselves, and others. This love in turn gives us a tremendous basis for valuing Him, ourselves, and others. And the more we operate this way, the more it resonates with who we really are, since we are designed to live a life of love. (See Ephesians 5:1-2.) This goes right along with the two greatest commandments which are to love God, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. (See Mark 12:28-31.) In the context of partnership, it shows that these two commandments are not imposed upon us as abnormal to whom we are, but instead are a great freedom for us to participate with God’s love as normal to our true design. And our design is to live a life of love and to partner with Jesus in doing the good things that we are uniquely designed for. As it says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” This is a gift from Jesus to us, in that He will grow us into who we truly are as we learn to walk with His love flowing through us and as we partner with Him in doing the “good works” that are places where we can express that love, and where our friendships with Jesus and others can blossom.
And this partnership is a two-way street. Not only do we get to participate with Jesus according to our true design, but Jesus also participates with us in such things as what may be troubling us in our lives. For example, the following two scriptures show that in our friendship with Jesus, He is willing to give us both help and peace with our concerns.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-8)
Three more Metaphors
Similar to the garden hose metaphor, there are three additional metaphors that I find helpful in understanding how we are designed for such a partnership with Jesus.
The first metaphor is from John 15, where Jesus says He is like a Vine and we are like the branches coming off the Vine. Jesus further says that if we remain in Him and He remains in us, then we will produce much fruit, but apart from Him we can do nothing – just as the branch apart from the Vine cannot produce fruit by itself.
The second metaphor is that of us being like a radio and God being like the radio signal. If the radio has a broken antenna, then it will not be able to pick up the signal and will only produce white noise at best. But if the antenna is repaired, then it can receive the signal well and play beautiful music. We are designed to play beautiful music from the signal of God’s Spirit through us.
The third metaphor is that of us being like a lamp on a table and God being like the electricity. The lamp might look nice with its design, color, and shape, and yet, if the electricity does not flow through the lamp, it will never function well as it is designed to function. Someone might enjoy it as a decoration, but will not find it very useful for reading at night.
All three of these metaphors show that only when both parts are partnered together does the final result function as it was designed.
What is Love?
Before leaving this section on how we are designed, and moving on to the section about why Jesus would want these things for us, I would like to pause here and emphasize and explore a key point in all of this, and that is, “What is love?” This question is not only at the heart of this chapter, but at the heart of this entire book as well. So, let us explore this question of, “What is love?”
Some people say that love is an action and if you do something that looks loving, therefore it must be loving. But according to the scripture, love is listed as the first fruit of God’s Holy Spirit and is also the very essence of God’s character – as it says in 1 John 4:16, “God is love.” In the hose metaphor we can see this in action as love comes from God and can flow through us back to God, to ourselves, and to others – hence watering the garden. So, the hose metaphor therefore gives us a picture of how we are designed to love God, our neighbors, and ourselves, using God’s love as the source.
Earlier we looked at John 15 where Jesus says that we can do nothing if we, as the branches, are apart from Him, as the Vine. Is this really true? Since Jesus never lies, we know it is therefore true. (See John 14:6.) But how does it practically apply to life?
Since Jesus has designed us, a person will still show forth hints of how he or she is designed, even if that person is apart from the Vine. For example, a parent apart from the Vine may still have extra care toward his or her child. Or apart from the Vine, a girlfriend and boyfriend may still taste of love toward each other. But, to truly have God’s love flow through us is impossible without us being hooked up well to the source of that love. When someone says to another person, “Well, you do all kinds of things for me, but I just do not feel loved,” it is most likely an indication that the person saying such a thing is not experiencing God’s love flowing through that other person toward them. And since we are all designed to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves, that person realizes deep down that something is not right when others do not have God’s love for them. When I was an atheist teenager, I wondered why the other kids did not love me more. Somehow I knew they were supposed to love me, even though I did not know anything about Jesus or my original design. I realize now that I had the blueprint of my original design deep inside of me in the very fabric of my being, and according to that blueprint, I knew it would have been right for those people to love me. Interestingly, I was less aware that it would have been right for me to love them, too – an indication that I was still not hooked up to the Vine, and therefore my selfish focus was much more upon myself than on others. This in turn made it harder for me to realize the lack of love that I had toward them.
I think our understanding of love in this context is very important, otherwise we could be surrounded by a hundred people who have God’s love flowing through them and are at deeper levels of friendship, and yet find ourselves unable to participate. Without God’s love flowing through us, we will not be able to give or receive His love well, and we as garden hoses will not bear much in terms of beautiful fruits and vegetables. Instead, the garden dirt will be dry, hard, and cracked and we will wonder why it is that way, since deep down we know there should be so much more.
Why Jesus would want this for us
Even if we have a good idea of how Jesus designed us to function, it does not mean we know why He designed us this way. If we misunderstand why, then we can easily draw many incorrect conclusions about so much else, which in turn will most likely keep us from growing toward deeper friendships. So, in this section we will explore the important question of, “Why would Jesus want us to function according to our original design?”
The short answer is that Jesus so completely loves us that He would like to give us the very best He can, which is deeper friendships of love where we would love God, and love our neighbors as ourselves. He loves us so amazingly, that out of that love He is willing to take tremendously great efforts to restore us to function this way. Jesus has no desire to take away our free will, demand that we be a certain way, or impose upon us or box us into something that is foreign to whom we really are. Instead He desires, for our benefit, to free us up and enable us to function more and more according to our original excellent design. This is a more amazing gift than we will ever be able to comprehend during our life on earth.
To explore the longer answer, it would be helpful to start with a look at who God is in terms of His desires and characteristics. We can then build upon this toward a fuller answer.
The following section is from At His Feet, where I summarized some of God’s main desires and characteristics and said they were “derived from many Bible verses” and that “I have also found them to be consistent with my own personal experience with God and what I have experienced of reality.” I included verses for the reader as a place to start if they were interested in learning more.
Some of God's desires
He desires our best (Jeremiah 29:11).
He desires a close relationship with us (John 15:15; Matthew 23:37).
He desires for us to value ourselves, others, and God (Matthew 22:34-40).
He desires that we would know that we are significant, both at the present time and throughout eternity (John 13:1-5; Isaiah 49:15-16; Revelation 2:17; 3:12).
He desires that we would be set free into His very best for our lives (John 8:36; 10:10).
Some of God’s characteristics
It is easy to attribute human motives and characteristics to God. But there will always be an “Other-ness” to God—aspects of His character that no human could ever attain. Here is a list of such characteristics:
He always wants our best (Romans 8:28).
He is always perfect in His motives (Isaiah 55:8-9).
He infinitely values us (1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 5:6-11).
He is never partial (Romans 2:11; 1 Peter 1:17).
He never commits injustice (2 Chronicles 19:7).
He never lies (Numbers 23:19; John 14:6).
He always has selfless love toward us (1 John 4:8; Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 36:5-7).
He is infinitely knowledgeable and wise (Romans 11:33-36; Isaiah 40:28).
He knows us completely (Matthew 10:30; Psalm 139:1-18).
He never makes a mistake (2 Samuel 22:31; Deuteronomy 32:4).
His character and desires have always been and will always be consistent throughout eternity (Hebrews 13:8).
These lists point to the amazing qualities of God. We are so used to human frailties and how people treat each other in not the nicest ways, that it is hard to believe Jesus has zero bad motives, but instead He is always 100% perfect in motives – which is clearly stated in the following verse:
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5b)
It is amazing to me that God loves us completely all the time and always wants our very best! This is quite a contrast to a very selfish person who does not care at all about the feelings of others and is mostly concerned with whether or not they are happy – such as how I was as a teenager. But, the more loving a person is, the more their eyes focus outside of themselves, which in turn increases how much they care for others. But with God, His love is so perfect that His eyes focus completely outside of Himself! In this context, Jesus’ heart is first for our good and then secondly for what would be good for Him. If we think Jesus is first concerned for Himself, then we might easily conclude that He does not really want our best, but instead is like a parent trying to vicariously live through their child because they are first concerned with how that child reflects upon them and not first for the child’s best. But with Jesus being perfect in love, His heart’s desire is to give us the very best, no matter the cost to Himself. And the very best He can give us is to free us up toward deeper friendships with Him and each other. And if we use our free will to go along with His very best to free us up toward functioning according to our original design, then it gives Him pleasure. This is similar to the Gardener enjoying watching the garden grow. Jesus with perfect motives enjoys watching us grow spiritually and produce good fruit – and in this He is very glad for our sake!
This is similar to a person caring for someone else and getting them a very nice birthday gift. They buy it, put it in a box, wrap it up, and wait for the other person to open the present. If the other person receives the gift and is happy with it, then it gives pleasure to the giver of the gift. If the other person rejects the gift or hates it, then it would most likely sadden the gift giver since they would be sad that the other person did not enjoy the gift.
It is also like a parent whose child goes to jail for committing a certain crime. The parent might have hoped for all kinds of good things for the child, and yet had to bear the weight of the sadness of seeing the child’s life having taken such bad turns. So if the parent really cared for the child, they would have pleasure in seeing the child freed out of jail and restored toward functioning in good ways – especially in the child’s relationships.
In the following story from the book of Luke, we get a glimpse into this wonderful heart of love that God has toward each of us:
Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' " (Luke 15:11-32)
In this story we can see how God is like the father who had a heart of love for both of his sons, and in his love for them, he wanted their best. I am sure his heart was saddened when the younger son left. But, we can see the father’s selfless love in how he not only gave his son the freedom to leave, but also the finances to do so! And when the younger son returned to be able to function in ways that he was more designed to function, the father ran to him and rejoiced and celebrated out of great excitement for his son! The father also had love for the older son. He did not reject him because of his attitude, but kindly tried to help his son to get freed up to appreciate and participate in the wonderful thing that had just taken place with his brother.
There is one final point that I find helpful in realizing Jesus definitely wants our best first for us, not first for Him – and that is that Jesus does not need our friendship in any way. Before He created our world or any humans, He was totally complete in His own love and friendship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. So He had no need for us, but in His love, creativity, and infinite wisdom, He decided to give us our existence. So if someone thinks they are doing Jesus a big favor by moving toward a relationship with Him, then they most likely do not yet realize the perfect character and desires of Jesus and the tremendous privilege they are being invited to partake of. As it says in scripture:
And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. (Acts 17:25, Emphasis mine)
Therefore, it is an amazing gift that Jesus in His perfect love for us would offer to help us grow toward our original design for deeper friendships with Him and each other.
In this chapter we looked at our original design for a partnership of deep friendship with Jesus. We also explored the reasons why Jesus would like to restore us toward functioning according to that design. For Jesus to be willing to do this for us is an amazing gift for sure! A gift that comes from His magnificent and perfect love for us! In the next chapter we will explore how we wound up moving away from our original design in the first place.