Adam and Eve and original sin

Category : Genesis, God, different, failure, faith, sin

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And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2: 16-17)

Adam and Eve had one rule: don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

That’s it.

And although that was the only rule, they just couldn’t help themselves.  They went ahead and did it anyway.  Sometimes I wonder how quickly it took before they made it to the fruit.  Part of me thinks it happened right away.  I know that when I’m told I can’t do something, that’s the one thing I want to do.  Is that an attitude I inherited from Adam?  Or has it just always been part of who we are as a species?  I don’t know.  But I know that urge is strong.  So maybe they got dropped off in the garden and then started eating forbidden fruit right away.

On the other hand, Adam had a lot of work to do.  There were a lot of animals to be named.  Adam of course did a good job with that.  Well, maybe with the exception of “platypus.”  So perhaps he was just too busy to go off eating forbidden fruit.

Eventually though, Adam and Eve turned toward that tree.  The one thing they weren’t allowed to touch they went after.  Satan knew exactly how to attack them.  He convinced them that God was holding out on them.  So they ate that fruit, and we’ve been paying for it ever since.

It can be easy to believe God wants us to be perfect.  But I’m not sure that’s his goal.  Perfection would mean we were God ourselves (because God is perfect).  And I don’t think that’s what God is going for.  God’s commands to Adam and Eve weren’t about perfection, they were about freedom.  They were about doing whatever they wanted – with one exception.

In fact, God’s first words to Adam were “you are free”.

Yet Adam and Eve still committed sin.  The original sin.  And we’ve never stopped sinning.  If Adam and Eve only had one thing they couldn’t do, what chance do you and I have to not sin?  The answer is “none.”  We will sin no matter how hard we try not to.

There’s part of me that is bothered by that realization.  I want to be perfect and not sin.  But that’s missing the point.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, perfection isn’t an issue.  We are perfect through him.  God isn’t expecting us to be more perfect.  He’s created a way to experience perfection while still making mistakes.

That’s just one of the many amazing and clever things God has done in his relationship with humanity.

Ultimately God is more interested in us growing closer to him than striving for perfection.  He knows that over time we will naturally sin less simply because we are connected with him.  This fact lives in tension with our culture.  We, as a society, believe in  the importance of “manning up.”  But that’s not what God wants.  He doesn’t want us to try harder.

The only thing that will do is cause us to fall down.

Sin may always be part of your life, but it doesn’t have to rule it.

‘Anti-Christ’ gets ‘anti-prize’ at Cannes

Category : God, failure, faith, hope, living a life of faith

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The Cannes Film Fest has come and gone.  Usually Cannes produces some movie that is declared a “must see” or generates some buzz for a few films.  But this year there didn’t seem to be a lot of enthusiasm.  Maybe it was the economy.  Maybe it was the movies.  I don’t know.

There was, however, the usual controversy.  Cannes tends to pride itself on pushing the envelope (you aren’t going to see X-men 14 or Star Trek 12).  Because it tries to push artistic or non-main stream movies, you often see the “boundaries” being pushed.  This year it was the movie Anti-Christ.

I admit, I don’t know anything about this movie other than what I read in a few news stories.  I have no idea if this movie is interesting.  (I doubt it.)  Or if it’s well conceived.  (Probably not.)   Roger Ebert describes Anti-Christ as, ” Its images are a fork in the eye.  Its cruelty is unrelenting.  Its despair is profound.”  I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s probably not the best movie ever made.  But, for argument’s sake, lets treat Anti-Christ as if it’s the greatest piece of art man has created.  In reality it doesn’t matter if this movie is good or bad, it still raises one question: why?

Why do we feel compelled to make ‘art’ that is so violent and base?

Why do we feel compelled to make ‘art’ that destroys instead of build up?

Why do we feel compelled to make ‘art’ that shocks us?

There must be something about human nature that drives us to offend.  We must get some satisfaction out of shocking people.  How else do you explain ’shock jocks’ on the radio?  It has to be that we delight in hurting others.  Take the American Idolist William Hung (you know, the guy who sang She Bangs).  The only reason Hung was shown on American Idol was so that we, as an audience, could rip him apart and laugh at his expense.  No one could possibly believe he was talented enough to be on the show.  He was there as a spectacle.  As a friend used to say, “I’m not laughing with you, I’m laughing at you.”

But what does it say about the message if it needs such violence and offense to drive home the "point"? What does it say about the messenger?

I often hear the argument that God doesn’t exist.  That evil isn’t real.  That given enough time, man will “improve.”  That’s the core philosophy of Star Trek after all.  It’s also the hope held out in most Hollywood movies.  But if that’s the case, if man improves over time, how do you explain a movie like Anti-Christ?   Surely this film doesn’t show that man has evolved into an enlightened species?  That somehow we are becoming better with time.

Why, then, do we do it?

In the book Faith & Doubt, John Ortberg addressed this issue by writing, “One day I realized there was no God, no one behind reality, no life after death.  I realized existence is a meaningless accident, begun by chance and destined for oblivion, and it changed my life.  I used to be addicted to alcohol but now the ‘law of natural selection’ has set me free.  I used to be greedy, but now the story of the Big Bang has made me generous.  I used to be afraid, but now random chance has made me brave.”

Ortberg said this with tongue in cheek.  But he raises a point.  We try to rip apart the existence of God, but in the very act of setting ourselves “free” from God, it seems we bring out the worst in ourselves.   Why?  How can it be that we always seem to find a way to fall back into the pit if we are becoming more enlightened?

Movies like Anti-Christ are supposed to represent social criticism.  It’s supposed to make us think about society and life.  But what does it say about the message if it needs such violence and offense to drive home the “point”?  What does it say about the messenger?

When I try to answer the “why” question, the only answer I have is that we are a fundamentally broken people.  That if we are left to their own devices we end up with a world of shock jocks, gratuitous violence, and empty philosophies.  That we are not getting better over time.

What we end up with is a world that wants to offend one another, for no reason other than that we can.  I think the evidence of that is overwhelming.  You don’t need me to tell you this, of course.  Just pick up a newspaper and read the headlines.  Or think about what you do when you get angry.  It’s to “get back” at someone isn’t it?  It’s part of human nature to fall backwards, not move forwards.  None of us are immune to that.

Only God changes the equation.  Only God breaks us out of the cycle.  Only God, can stop us.  Because we sure can’t stop ourselves.