In The Beginning: Attachment

by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director

I am often asked, “How does Living Hope help people?” I generally answer in many different ways: 1) We love people where they are as they are and show them who they are in Christ. 2) We point people to Jesus, who is the author and definer of our identity. 3) We help people embrace who they are in Christ. All the answers are accurate, and no one finds truly transformative, sustained healing without Jesus. Still, after journeying with people for over twenty-five years, I have discovered another aspect of what we do at LHM that has an incredible impact on people’s lives. It is secondary to Jesus but equally important — attachment.

At LHM, we help people attach to Christ and others in ways that allow them to feel seen, heard, known, and loved. Those attachments give them a sense of belonging that ultimately changes their character and behavior. Sure, we teach a lot of Bible (it is our textbook) and Biblical doctrine (we do expository teaching), but knowledge alone doesn’t transform man’s heart. In fact, it more often makes one proud (1 Cor 8:1). Intimate attachment to Christ, His gospel, and like-minded believers brings accountability, character development, and sustained transformation. And I believe that is just how God intended it to be.

In The Beginning

In the Bible’s first pages (Gen 1-2), we find an all-powerful God creating our world and filling it with His glory and creation. We are all familiar with the story of creation, but we may not recognize that in God’s purposeful and intentional creation, He establishes attachments of His creation to Himself.

We see this most powerfully in God’s connection to the man and woman He created. God is present with them, speaking to them and fellowshipping with them. We bypass these passages as insignificant, but nowhere else in scripture do we see such intimacy between humans and God in person.

Man was created in the image of God, and most theologians, past and present, struggle to define what that image is precisely. I don’t know the exact answer, but one of the realities I believe is demonstrated in our image-bearing is attachment. God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And without going into a long explanation of trinitarian theology, most theologians believe that these three persons of God are fully connected (attached) and equally God. Though we are not God, we, too, have a trinitarian reality as humans, as we are body, soul, and spirit. But even more profound, the reality in which God placed man demonstrated God’s deep attachment, love, and care for His creation.

Enter Sin

When sin enters the world (Gen 3), we see the penalty for that sin is death. Yes, man would now die, but before man’s physical death would take place, another death was also the result of sin. Man became detached from God. The very temptation given to Eve in the garden was a challenge to the attachment of our Adamic parents to their Creator and Sustainer, God. The serpent convinced Eve that God was not enough and somehow was withholding something of good from them. By eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they detached from their dependence on the Creator and began to trust their understanding of the world as creatures. They believed they now had knowledge that would take care of them. How wrong they were, and how mistaken we are when we believe the same lies.

The Foundation

The foundation for mental and physical well-being is grounded in our utter dependence and attachment to God, who revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, crucified for our sins, and imparted His righteousness upon all who have trusted Him as their Savior and Lord.

Jesus further demonstrates this need for attachment in the call of his disciples in Mark 8:34-35: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

In this foundational passage, Jesus calls us to detach from our sinful and fallen hearts’ inclinations, passions, and desires and attach to Him and His mission in our world.

Therefore, the gospel of Jesus, with His incarnation, death, burial, ascension, resurrection, and sending of the Holy Spirit, is a restoration of the incarnational attachment humanity once enjoyed in the garden. This incarnational attachment, now realized through Christ and the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, will be perfectly restored in Christ’s second coming and redemption of the world and all those who have trusted in Him.

The Big Question

So the question we must answer is to what or to whom are we attached? Is our attachment to Christ first and others who also follow Him, or is our attachment to lesser desires, passions, or material things? If we want to find true contentment and joy, we, like Paul, must be able to proclaim, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).