If God is such a great builder, why are we so broken?
Even if you don’t accept the universality of sin, surely you look around this world and see utter brokenness everywhere. Broken families. Broken individuals. Broken schools. Broken churches. Broken communities. Broken nations. Divorce. Illiteracy. Abuse. Poverty. Death from preventable diseases. Hunger. Resentment. Bitterness. Hatred. Greed. Addictions. Child trafficking. Abductions. Rape. Murder. Corruption. Natural disasters. Terrorist attacks. War. This world is not just broken because of some mysterious power of corruption; our world is broken because humans in this world are broken…broken to the core. But why?
In Part 3, I asked if you have ever meditated on what it was like when Adam and Eve were escorted out of Eden? We’re going to get to such a meditation. Before we do, though, let’s look at Eden once more.
Eden literally was heaven-like. Adam and Eve were with God. He spoke to them. They heard Him. They were not afraid of Him. They were not ashamed to be naked before each other or God. God testifies over and over again that everything HE made was GOOD. The fruits, berries and green plants tasted delectable. The animals were in unison with one another – they ate green plants instead of each other. Adam and Eve were in perfect union with God, with one another, with all the animals and all the rest of Creation. It was GOOD.
Then, the Fall.
I don’t want to spend time detailing the lead up to the Fall. You can read about that in Genesis 3:1-6. I want to jump to the effects of the Fall. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Suddenly, they know they are naked and feel ashamed. Suddenly, they hear God walking in the Garden and they hide. Suddenly, they hear God’s voice and they fear Him. Everything that was only and always GOOD is now uncertain.
Adam and Eve, created as eternal spirit beings designed to joyfully worship God in spirit with their whole being, are now retreating away from Him. This is a drastic shift from the idyllic everlasting life they were created into. Now, there is a sharp chasm dividing them from their Creator. Now, there is a deep abyss in their soul where God once breathed life into them.
The full effect of this Fall is not yet apparent. We will get to that momentarily. First, however, God has some things to say. He gave them everything; they chose the one thing He prohibited; in doing so, they sinned. There is a heavy price that comes with the knowledge of good and evil and trying to be as wise as God.
To Satan, God says, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers. Satan was contained, but now he will attempt to possess and destroy the offspring of God’s creation.
To Eve, God says, I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. Eve had perfect union with God, but now her relational heart hungers for Adam.
To Adam, God says, Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return. (Genesis 3:14-19) Adam had the best job in the world, but now his work will be become toilsome.
This is where the brokenness starts. The sad truth, however, is that unless it can be contained…there is NO END to the depths to which our brokenness will take us. Many of us know just how deep into miry pits we have traveled due to our own broken lives. But before we dive further into this meditation, there is one more thing God has to say: The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever. (Genesis 3:22)
God banishes Adam from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. He drives Adam and Eve out of Eden and places a cherubim and flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the Tree of Life.
I have to pause for a moment to recognize that many people are saying to themselves, Why did God do this? He is so mean! I have questioned God over and over about this. Then, one day, I realized everything HE did to make Eden a heaven-like existence for us to dwell in. HE intended for us to dwell in Eden and live in fellowship with Him forever. He is the one who made everything GOOD.
There was only one prohibition for man in his free will and that one prohibition was to refrain from eating of a single tree in a lush tropical forest seeded with every possible fruit, berry and vegetable that man could ever want. It was this one prohibited fruit – out of all this goodness – that captured the heart of mankind. Man is the one who disobeyed a God who offered him everything he ever wanted or needed. It is man that is to blame.
So why did God banish Adam and Eve from the Garden? Simple: once they sinned, they were separated from Him. If they subsequently ate of the Tree of Life – the doorway through which eternal spirit beings enter into eternity – they would be eternally separated from God with no way to be redeemed. God did not drive Adam and Eve out of Eden in some angry burst of judgment; rather, He drove them away from the Tree of Life so that HIS eternal spirit beings might still be redeemed back to eternal salvation so that they can live in relationship with Him forever. This was not an angry, mean-spirited act…this was an act of redemptive love.
One of our problems today is that none of us were born in Eden; we have all been born out of Eden. Thus, to reconnect to the God of Eden, we must be redeemed by the Creator we are separated from since we have no ability to reconnect to Him on our own. God in His redemptive love allows us to reconnect to Him by being spiritually reborn. God sent Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins and thus serve as the redemptive bridge back home to the heart of God.
We are born again into relationship with Him through the Cross of Christ. When we accept Christ’s sacrifice and invite God’s Holy Spirit to live inside us, we enter the New Path that leads to our safe, eternal dwelling place with God in Heaven. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus, You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘you must be born again.’ (John 3:1-21) We, as eternal spirit beings separated from our God, must be restored to Him: it is a must, or else we will live eternally separated from our God.
We will go into more detail about being born again into a personal relationship with Christ later in the series. But here, our focus is back to our meditation: what was it really like the moment Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden?
Adam and Eve have just been driven out of Eden: the place where God made everything GOOD; where they had all the food they’d ever need; where they were naked without shame; more practically, where they were naked without getting cold; where God’s presence was so strong that they never feared the dark; where animals ate plants instead of one another (and people); where there was perfect peace. They were forced to leave all this. They now enter a world outside Eden.
Leaving Eden, they enter into a cold, dark, dangerous world where they must now cultivate their own food against thorns and thistles. Now, the work will not be for satisfaction; it will be for survival. Now, Adam will have to spend a lot of time working the land. Now, the fabric of their relationship is torn and Eve will clamor for her husband but he will rule over her. Now, the perfect puzzle is scattered in a million pieces and putting it back together again will require hard labor. Speaking of hard labor, the woman will now experience great pain in giving birth.
Provision that was once a ‘pick’ away is now a panic concern. Keeping warm at night is a panic concern. Peace in the dark is fleeting. Getting away from biting bugs is impossible. Escaping prowling animals is a constant struggle. The heat bears down on them by day. Dusty winds blow in their faces. Fruit and berries spoil. Vegetables rot. Green pastures have sticker bushes, ticks, mosquitoes and snakes. Still waters cover predators that wait on their next meal.
Never once had Adam and Eve ever felt fear or desperation. Now they are clamoring to survive. This is not only a physical, mental and emotional desperation; it is a spiritual desperation. Their souls gasp for spiritual air. Their spiritual arms flail like a baby looking for Mother’s safe and nurturing embrace. Their spiritual legs reflexively kick out in panic as they try to find their footing. Their spiritual hearts helplessly attempt to hide from the dangerous world that surrounds them: but there is nowhere to hide. The cost of being banished from Eden is high.
Is it any wonder that Adam is torn from Eve just as God tore Adam’s rib to make Eve? He is torn away from her to work amid thorns and thistles in order to survive. In this shift from Eve to his work in the dirt, Eve clamors to have his attention but he is no longer available to her. This is important: just as Adam in panic mode shifts back toward the very dust from which he was created, Eve in panic mode shifts back toward the very rib from which she was created.
Adam was made from dust and now he slaves away in the dirt to make a living for his family. Eve was made from Adam’s rib and now she clamors for that person from which she was created. Separated from God, both retreat to the source of their creation: the dirt and the rib; respectively, all things physical and all things emotional/relational.
In the Garden, they did not even think about from whence they came. Their hearts were fully connected to God every moment of their existence such that they endlessly related to their Creator amid satisfying work and relationship with each other. But now they are broken: now, the very place where they worshiped God is empty and like a newborn child they struggle to crawl to their mother’s breast; they struggle to reconnect with God the way they were designed to be with Him for all of eternity in the Garden. Yet now, separated from Him, they cannot. They are broken. And they are desperate. Is it any wonder that the root of religion in man’s heart has often been a fear that the ‘gods’ must be very angry?
Put simply, in the Fall, there was a shift from spirituality to physicality. The eternal spirit beings wrapped in human flesh now become temporal fleshly beings wrapped in spiritual hunger for eternity. The man now looks for God or tries to fill his spiritual void through painful toil in the material from which he was created; the dirt. The woman now looks for God or tries to fill her spiritual void through relationship with the one from whom she was created: Adam.
Adam, made from dirt, now loses his spiritual connection with God and tries to fill his soul with dirt – with everything physical. Eve, made from the rib, now loses her spiritual connection with God and tries to fill her soul with relationships – everything emotional or relational. The physical work and the relationships they now seek for satisfaction and spiritual peace are deep wells that can never replace the connection they once had with their Creator. Their is a gaping hole in their hearts: stuffing artificial substitutes to fill this hole does not work. They are broken to the core.
Adam and Eve have passed this brokenness down to us. Like them, we long for the perfect, unending connection Adam and Eve once had with God. Our souls hunger to reconnect to God for we are still eternal spiritual beings. Now, however, this hunger is confused with the hunger of our flesh. Our spirits are hungry but our flesh begs to be fed. In our attempts to fill this empty void in our spirit, we often feed our flesh. We often stop at nothing to feed our flesh in our desperate attempt to reconnect to God. Like Adam and Eve, we too are broken to the core.
Is it any wonder that we so easily become ensnared by the flesh? Is it any wonder that work is often more exhausting and addictive than it is satisfying? Is it any wonder that relationships are often difficult instead of unifying? Is it any wonder that we have so much male-female relational conflict? Is it any wonder that we have so much sin in our lives? Is it any wonder that so much brokenness abounds everywhere we look in this world?
This brokenness is the source of sin: it is the source of our sin nature; it is the source of every kind of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual distortion in humanity; it is the channel through which we are overcome by all kinds of destructive forces in this world – diseases, genetic mutations, mental illness, deformities, divorce, lust, greed, pride, materialism, gossip, addictions, obsessions, disorders, war, poverty, corruption, lies, murder, envy, malice, hate, anger, abuse, selfishness, love of money, and yes, the lure of Double Life Highway.
As eternal spirit beings, we are desperately in need of a New Path!
I invite you to continue this series with me. We will get to the GOOD NEWS – I promise! But first, we need to take a closer look in Part 5 at what it practically means to be broken.
Special Note: If you doubt the extent of human brokenness, consider watching the non-religious PBS Frontline special, Growing Up Online. You can watch it…online!