When James Barrie introduces the character Peter Pan in his fantasy fiction novel Peter Pan and Wendy, we encounter a young boy trying to re-attach his shadow to the soles of his feet. As Peter desperately struggles, we get a glimpse of his mind as he reflects, “it was that he and his shadow when brought near each other, would join like drops of water, and when they did not, he was appalled.” It would seem his shadow was not always present when it should’ve been, yet it seems strange that it upset Peter who lives in a world where many things don’t make sense. Maybe his desire to have a shadow reminds him that to be complete he must live in the real world, but he doesn’t have to behave as it does.
Peter Pan makes decisions based on his desires and spends much of his life trying to convince others to do the same. There is no one to guide him except his human nature. He sets the rules and can choose between doing good or evil without any real consequences. Since the fall in the garden, we realize that in the present world and the one to come, there are consequences associated with the sinful choices we make. We have been told we don’t have to make those choices, but many have grown accustomed to living with their human nature. They happily choose their will over the one who created us. Some are content thinking we can have our way as well as God’s way erroneously thinking they are one and the same; wills joined like drops of water. They are aghast to learn that can not be the case.
Imagine this analogy where our shadow represents our human nature and our physical body is the image God intended for us. Our shadow is never an identical replication of our body but a likeness of our physical image. When our body blocks the rays of light surrounding us, a dark image of us is created. When we turn our back to the sun, we can see a distorted dark image of ourselves possibly reminding us that there are parts of our being that were not characteristics of our created image. Paul prompts us to remember that our human nature can be overcome with God’s grace,
“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.” (Romans 8: 6-9a.)
We were created to emulate God’s nature as we were created in His image. James shares, “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15). God does not want that death for us but wants our created image restored, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.
We don’t live in a fantasy world but in one where our nature can bring about sin intentionally or unintentionally. We are invited to turn to the Light, the Son of God, to change our nature and with His help, we can live in this world but not as the world.