Sunday, December 8, 2013

When Perfection Wasn’t Good Enough

(This is part 2 of 4.)
This month I’m looking at why Christmas was needed.  Why did God come to earth, nurtured for nine months in the womb of a virgin to be born a pauper in a stable?  The answers are found “in the beginning” – in the first 3 chapters of Genesis.

Last week we saw how God, in His creative work made everything “good”.  That’s Genesis 1.  Then in the second chapter we’re given more information about the habitat God provided for the man and woman who first dwelt here.  There we’re told that from the dust of the ground God crafted Adam.  So it isn’t really surprising that when our bodies decay after death they return to “dust”. 

But there was Adam, (the perfect man at this point) with a list of tasks, such as naming all the animals, but without someone with whom he could share life.  I believe God knew Adam would be lonely.  He just wanted Adam to experience being alone so he would have a greater appreciation and love for the partner God then provided him.

Not from the dust, but from a rib in Adam’s side God created woman – another human like him but different.  They were to complement one another and to get busy populating the earth with offspring.  Theirs was a perfect environment in Eden.  All of their needs were met.  You can let your imagination run wild and come to the conclusion that they had it good.  It was paradise.

Imagine living in a place where you are surrounded with every kind of fruit and vegetable to eat.  And it was all perfect.  The climate was perfect.  It must have been because we’re told Adam and Eve existed in nakedness.  I’m thinking about 76 degrees with no humidity and a gentle breeze in the day and a drop to 72 at night.  Yeah.  That would be about right.  They didn’t have to work for anything other than reaching up or down to pick their meals.  And Adam never had to contend with a mother-in-law!

You would think (at least I do) that in such a perfect, sufficient, idyllic place they would have been satisfied.  I try to tell myself that I would have been!  But God put a tension there in the Garden.  In the form of a fruit tree God designed a way to test the man and woman’s love for Him.

“And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.’"  (Genesis 2:16-17)  See that one tree?  It’s off limits.  Everything else is yours.  But eat from that one tree and everything changes.  Death comes.  Perfection is lost.

I remember as a boy my mother telling me to never play with matches.  But I would watch my dad strike a match to light his cigarette and was amazed that the strike produced a flame.  I wanted that ability to light a match.  But to do that I had to “play with matches” which I had been warned not to do.  Yet it never seemed to bring anything bad on Dad when he struck a match. 

So one day, when Mom wasn’t looking, I opened a closet door where I knew some matches were kept.  Now, I didn’t burn down the house or even start a fire.  But I did get burned.   The flame came down the match until it came in contact with my never-before-burned flesh and I screamed in pain.  A blister quickly formed and it hurt!

I should have listened to Mom.  Here I am, 50-plus years later and I still remember what happened when my curiosity got the best of me. 

God established some limits and boundaries for Adam and Eve.  Not because He was a killjoy.  Because he loved them.  But the day would come when they would exchange that love and the life they had for a momentary pleasure.  And that’s why Christmas had to happen.

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