Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Naked in the Garden

I wonder if ancient Israelites ever had nightmares of showing up at the yeshiva naked.

I think Genesis is my favorite book of the bible because it brings the most raw, basic, earth-shaking human emotions and experiences into stories that we can tell our children and grandchildren. There’s a reason Genesis is the first book of the bible—and no, it’s not because it was written first. (Parts of it are some of the newest of the OT). Genesis captures what it means to be human and what it means to be in relationship with God.

This Sunday, I will have a hard time not preaching on Genesis 3. It’s the story of the consequence of the Fall. Adam and Eve hear the Lord God walking in the Garden, and they run and hide. Why? Because they were afraid. Why? Because they were naked. And so it begins.

You can take the story of the “apple” and the tempting serpent, but please give me Genesis 3. This part of the bible, of course, is written not as literal history but as existential history, and it’s supposed to capture not the sequence of events but the deeper narrative behind them. Did the snake convince Eve to eat the apple? Did Eve give the apple to Adam? Were their eyes suddenly opened? I have no idea. But what I do know is this: when they realized what they did, Adam and Eve went and hid. Of that, I have no doubt.

This is the fundamental, foundational, universal reaction to sin—go and hide. Toddler colors on the wall with a crayon? Runs and hides. Teenager caught in the bedroom with his girlfriend? Runs and hides. Executive loses important account? Ignores boss’ phone call. It’s what we do. And if we have a partner in the mix, we turn and point at her: she made me do it. It’s what it means to be human.

This story from Genesis 3 represents the brokenness of humanity’s relationship with God. Sin is that which forces us into hiding. Sin is the fact that we hide. Sin is the false, mistaken impulse that leads us to run away from God rather than to him. Our nakedness is our humanity. It is the realization that, although we might be made in God’s image, that image has been marred.

So where’s the grace in that? God didn’t start over. We’re still here to tell the story. Even though we ate the fruit, God didn’t wipe humanity off the face of the earth and begin anew. God chooses us even though we run away from him.

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