“Whose problem is it?” That one line from a parenting education course remains a powerful tool in my life–even though our children are now grown. The necessity of discerning problem ownership permeates all of life. God demands accountability from each of us, for all of us.
We saw it first in the Garden of Eden. Can you imagine the horrific heartache of that day? God, who loved walking in His perfect creation with the ones He made to relate to Him, accepted the heart-breaking responsibility of delivering cursed consequences. Instead of enjoying the fellowship He longed for, He confronted rebellion and delivered consequences. Delay would have meant eternal destructive havoc. Yes, He knew that the Promise dwelt in the midst of the Curse, but He also knew the millennia of pain already unfurling.
God demonstrated the ultimate “tough love.” He did not lash out; He did not dwell in the pain; He allowed consequences to do their work–to restore humanity to its original purpose: relationship with Himself. Even the residual damage, the cursing of the ground, fit His purpose: ‘for thy sake.’ Therein is the heart of God and the purpose of accepting responsibility: restored relationship with the Creator & Sustainer of Life.
All that God has done–all that God does–is for the sake of our relationship with Him. The call is continual. It is so easy to become distracted by life. Following His story after the curse, we see the two paths of life. Abel tended the flocks–he stewarded the stuff of life to offer it back in thanks to the Creator and Sustainer of life. Cain tilled the ground–he strove to produce good from the cursed ground. Cain missed the point. It is such an easy mistake, a seemingly right road that we often mistake is really a detour that increases the problems. He assumed the wrong responsibility. Relationship with God must be the sole priority and purpose of life.
Our natural desire is to solve the problems we see….and there are many. God’s desire is that we seek Him; He is the solution. We derail from his purposes by seeking solutions from our earthly understanding. That only leads to anger, resentment, finger pointing and ultimately more sin. Accepting ownership of sin is the key to all the problems in our world, but it must begin with ‘me.’ It does not ignore the sin of others; in fact, it seeks God on behalf of that sin as well. It is broken-hearted awareness for the natural rebellion of all–and whole-hearted passion for the rightness of God. God told Cain to rule over sin; we do that by accepting responsibility for the problem of sin in our own lives and living to give God glory for His work. The curse has been set aside by Jesus, for Jesus. We are to work out what God has put into us through Christ.
Whose problem is it: mine. My sin is the problem. My connection to God is the solution.