True Love and The Fall

    There have been a shameful number of times that I have told my wife that I would do something at her request, or not do something at her request, believing in my mind that it was some small inconsequential thing and finding it was big when I didn’t fulfill the promise. Most often when the failure has been revealed I didn’t at first treat it very seriously, deepening the freshly created wound. After realizing the depth of my mistake a few emotions immediately set in, shame and frustration. Shame that I didn’t take the situation seriously enough and have consequently caused real pain to someone I love more than my next breath, and frustration that I can’t fix it. In those moments there is nothing I can say or do that will make the hurt go away. At my best I can only stand contritely and endure the time of pain and wariness that comes with having broken a trust. At my worst I want to run away just to avoid seeing the pain in her eyes. I wondered tonight if that’s not a pale shadow of how our first parents must have felt after breaking their first promise to God the Father. In Genesis chapter two we see that God created a garden for the first man to live in and gave him one prohibition, “…of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…”(v.17) But in Chapter 3 verse 2 Eve breaks the promise first and soon after so does Adam.
   Immediately their eyes are opened and they realize not only how wrong their actions were but how wrong they have become. They chose to test the boundaries of obedience in an irrevocable way. They believed the lie that they didn’t need God’s wisdom, direction, or instruction to govern how they interacted with the world He had made and placed them in. They began to think of themselves subtly the same way Satan had thought of himself explicitly when he said, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14) I imagine they stood there, seeing themselves naked and newly stained by sin, and were profoundly ashamed. Their nakedness served only to highlight the innocence and naiveté with which they had viewed their place in the world only moments before. They had known God face to face, had walked with Him hand in hand, and their shame compelled them to do a thing they should have known was impossible. They ran and they hid. I’ve done the same a million times. Haven’t you? Maybe you’re trying to run or hide from Him right now. Read on.
   As I was working through the story of The Fall with my five year old son recently I asked him about Adam and Eve’s reaction. “Don’t you think they knew they couldn’t hide from God?” Even a five year old knows that you can’t hide from God. This is when I began to see the story in a new way. If they knew, as I’m sure they did, that they couldn’t get away from the Father then what I’ve always thought was them running from punishment might actually be them running from seeing the heartbreak of their friend and God in person. And when God asks them questions like “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:10) they sound more, to my ears, like the solicitous tone I take when I want to see my son’s boo boo that he fearfully wants to keep covered, than a booming and thundering judge. It sounds like He’s saying the God version of “let’s talk this out” rather than “stand before me and receive justice!” As if to prove this He breaks His side of the promise too. The rest of verse 17 of chapter 2 I quoted above says, “…for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” And yet they do not die. The sense of the warning is that death would be pretty immediate, and although being driven out of the garden removed access to the tree of life and therefore doomed them to eventual death, they are given incredible providence that runs counter to that judgmental sentiment. The consequences they receive scream LOVE! Even as they are cast out of the garden, their one true home in this world, they are provided for in the form of clothing. God knew they shouldn’t have to be ashamed of their nakedness yet he took the sting out of it by providing the covering. Many books can and have been written on just these few verses!
   This is the beginning of the Gospel, The Gospel according to Moses. In a pre-fall world True Love was defined by truth and an unbroken relationship. The narrative of The Fall proves that obedience is not the primary focus of God’s definition of True Love. In the face of disobedience we forced a change in the definition, now True Love is defined by choice. He chose not to destroy Adam and Eve and start over. He gives each of us the opportunity everyday to chose relationship with Him. He gives us these opportunities in spite of our tendency to make the same mistake our first parents did, every day. He chose to make “…Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:7). He chooses to make what we did wrong right again. He chooses to restore us to Himself. He chooses forgiveness. Jesus had to come live a sinless life and chose to die a brutal death in order that God might allow our forced definition of True Love to lead back to the true definition of True Love based on truth and unbroken relationship. His resurrection is our restoration!

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