Life Notes—November 3, 2011
“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree in the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’” Genesis 2:16-17
The past few weeks we’ve been exploring a version of the creation story, where the original human was created both male and female. God separated that human into two beings, male and female. Last week I suggested we are drawn to relationship because we desire the wholeness of our original state. Being in relationship allows us to more closely approximate the image of God from which we were created. Previous editions of Life Notes can be found at https://lifeworshipnotes.wordpress.com.
Prior to God splitting the human into male and female halves, there are two trees named in the story: the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God tells the human not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because he/she will die. Isn’t that curious, when so much of our earthly quest is a search for knowledge? But this tree is at the heart of what is referred to as “original sin.” Adam and Eve did eat of this tree, in direct contradiction to God’s instruction. In Genesis 3:4-5, the serpent tells Eve, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Indeed, they did not die, at least not in earthly terms, but they were expelled from the paradise of the garden of Eden.
The knowledge they gain is of their own nakedness. God says, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil…” So how are the awareness of nakedness and the knowledge of good and evil related? I believe the answer is in the separation storyline of the garden of Eden. Separation not only of male and female, but also of humanity from God. When their eyes were ‘opened’ they focused on differences—differences from each other and differences from God—and they were ashamed. They were ‘naked’ in their exposed uniqueness. While we often value individuality, it is not our natural state. The knowledge gained from this tree is not knowledge as we define it today. Rather, it is awareness of a condition not compatible with the garden of Eden. That condition is separation. Separation sees ‘you and me’ to the exclusion of ‘us.’ It categorizes everything: us and them, black and white, good and evil. It leaves us feeling naked and exposed, a condition we may seek to neutralize by clinging to one side or the other. And while it may be a necessary element of our earthly experience, separation breeds fear and doubt…and sin. Next week I will finish this exploration of the creation story.
This is All Saints Sunday and Tom’s downtown sermon is “Becoming a Saint,” based on Matthew 5:1-16. Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the Sanctuary. Mitch completes his “Mary and Martha” series at the west campus, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.
Come home to church this Sunday. Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator