Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why We Talk About Sin 3

Because before we can understand how bad things were, we need to understand how really good they were when it all started.

Now I realize that may sound like a contradiction in light of yesterday's post, but hear me out. We often think of "sin" as doing bad things, of breaking rules. But Cornelius Plantinga, author of Not the Way It's Supposed to Be, defines sin as a violation of shalom.

Before we can understand how bad sin is, we need to first understand the way God intended things to be (which is a good way of explaining the word "shalom"). We normally begin the "sin" discussion with Genesis 3, which is the story of Adam and Eve's disobedience. But we need to go back to Genesis 1 and 2, which is the story of God creating everything. After each day, God said, "It is good." God took great delight in everything that He created, including man and woman. Actually, after the creation of man and woman, He said, "It is very good."

God's design was for man and woman to be in relationship not only with one another but also with Himself. And that relationship was meant to be one built on trust. Man and woman were created to trust God for everything they needed, and through that to give thanks to Him for that provision and love. That trust was then to spill over to their relationship with each other. The Bible indicates this to be the case when it says that they were naked and not ashamed. Things were very good! Yet we know what happened. They chose not to trust God. They believed a lie that they no longer needed Him, that they could be like Him. The irony is that they were actually more like Him before they sinned than they ever would be again.

A few years ago I remember reading this story and being stopped in my tracks by the following verse:

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves (Gen. 3:8).

I started thinking, "I wonder if this walking together in the cool of the day was a part of their evening routine?" It's as if God was doing what He did every evening. But on this particular evening, something was different. His children did not join Him. This is a great picture of intimacy to me, and the sad thing is that after sin entered the picture, the intimacy they had with their Father and Creator was broken. It doesn't appear that they ever took these walks again. But it didn't stop there. It was also broken between the man and the woman (remember, it was at the point of sin entering the picture that they first felt shame). And this brokenness continues to affect all of us.

So that's how things started. The Bible also tells us how things will end. Revelation 21 says that there will come a day when God will once again walk with His people. He will make His dwelling place with them, and get this: He will come near to wipe away every tear from the eyes of His children. Intimacy will once again be fully restored.

So we see how it began and we see how it ends. For now we have the Gospel. Yes, it's a time of tension, but it's a time of God doing His work of redeeming and restoring that which was lost and broken. God's work involved sending His Son to earth to make right what was wrong. And He did it through His death on the Cross. Through Christ's death we can once again be reconciled to God. We can truly know God, our Father and Creator.

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