Friday, 18 October 2013

The Way of Things

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." First letter of John 1:8

"The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.  All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt: there is no one who does good, not even one." Psalm 14:2-3

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

The Bible presents Adam's choice to disobey God as typical of all of us.  This is particularly clear in the quotations above, but this theme runs through the Bible's story like an unbroken dark thread in a complex tapestry.  The Bible is equally clear that as Adam and Eve faced the consequences of their sin, so we face the consequences of ours.

A quick look at the next few chapters of Genesis drives this home.
  • Adam is cast out of the garden so he cannot eat from the tree of life.  Like cut flowers in a vase, he appears to live for a while, but is actually dead.  Eventually, however, his physical state catches up with his spiritual condition, and he dies.  All of mankind faces the same end (as is pictured in the repetitive phrase "and he died" in Genesis 5); we may like to think of ourselves as immortal, but (as Ecclesiastes 2:16 tells us) "like the fool, the wise man too must die."
  • Adam's task of tending the garden is frustrated by thorns; his work becomes labour - most of us can relate to this.  Similarly, no mother would deny they have experienced the pain of childbirth that is a result of God's judgment on Eve.
  • Relationships become strained - Adam and Eve are ashamed of their nakedness before each other and one of their sons kills his brother.  Today, because of human selfishness, marriages and family relationships are often characterised by jealousy and power struggles, friends betray friends and nations rise against nations.

This is our world - a world dominated by sin and its effects.  It is a far cry from the beauty and tranquillity of Eden.  We sometimes express a longing to return to the perfect world that God prepared for us, and we may even work to bring a little of heaven to earth, but if we examine our hearts honestly, we know that we are as much part of the problem as the solution.  This is the way of things.

For reflection:
  1. Consider the arrogance of Adam and Eve who decided God's word about the fruit could be rejected and ignored. When God speaks to your heart through the Bible, and particularly when he challenges your own attitudes and behaviour, how do you respond?  How much like Adam and Eve are you?
  2. If this is the way of things - that our sin has broken our world and broken our relationship with God - what hope is there?  If God has chosen to cut us off, how can we ever be reconciled to him?

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