In the Fall, we see two things that the serpent made Eve question; God’s identity and her own identity. At the core of it, most things boil down to how I see God for Who He is and how I see myself for who I am. So it follows that how I view God impacts how I view myself and how I view myself will affect how I view God. And how I view both God and myself will influence how I view my family, friends, and the world at large. Christ’s question to the disciples still rings today, “but who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15 (NKJV). So Who is God?
There are hundreds of books that attempt to speak about Who God is. However, as Bishop Youssef says, theology is based on revelation, not speculation or assumption. So whatever we know about Who God is, is based on what He has revealed to us about Himself. We know God is a trinity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We know that God is perfect in His attributes, and this is the crux of where most people tend to struggle. If I were to ask you do you think God loves you? You might say yes, superficially. But do you actually, genuinely and authentically feel that He loves you?
Before the Fall, Adam & Eve lived in communion with God and had a deep relationship with Him. However, the serpent made them question His love for them, and this doubt began to overtake them. “God had said if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die. Satan contradicted this truth by telling Eve a lie: “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). Here Satan persuaded Eve to doubt whether God had been fully honest with them” (Fr. David Fontes).
When we doubt God’s love for us, we doubt how much He values us. And when we doubt how much He values us, we subject ourselves to things that are not godly because I do not think God loves me, so why should I even bother? That creates an emptiness that turns into a vacuum. And like a vacuum, it will pick anything up to fill that void. That is why, as humans, we try to regain our “personal value in all wrong places and in all the wrong ways. Many of us try to regain value by gaining authority, popularity, worldly objects, devoting ourselves to special causes, education, careers, money, and many more. All these feeble attempts to regain our sense of personal value are a result of our original doubt in God’s complete love for us” (Fr. David Fontes). Not only do we sabotage our values by our actions, but society perpetuates it as well. The quickest way to disconnect from someone is to devalue them.
“We regain our true sense of personal value when we unite ourselves with the One who gave us our value, to begin with” (Fr. David Fontes). Not from my self-efforts. Your value in God’s eyes is not increased or decreased because of what you do or what you don’t do. Praying, fasting, reading, and service doesn’t make God love me more. If it did, then His love is conditional and not truly agape; unconditional. “God did not call us to a subpar or counterfeit sense of personal value, which comes through our own effort to feel good about ourselves…artificially esteeming or puffing ourselves up in order to feel good about ourselves is difficult to maintain and is likely to lead to pride and a false self-esteem” (Fr. David Fontes). That does not mean that I should become despondent; in fact, knowing our real value enables us more to walk in Christ. Henri Nouwen wonderfully says, “Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about, and doing from hour to hour.” Main point: Just as the Father says to Christ, He says to us, “YOU are the beloved in whom I AM well-pleased.”