When I was 14 I spent most of my summer with my Grandparents. I really loved my Grandparents. They were so awesome. We spent time together. We did stuff like go fishing and watch old Alfred Hitchcock shows. My Grandfather was a preacher. He may have had some religious doctrine that I wouldn’t agree with today but He was a “man of God.” He knew Jesus. He may not be able to say preach Grace from the pulpit but He knew Grace as a person. He was an amazing Grandfather filled with so much love and compassion for people. I knew that no matter how bad it got, no matter what mistakes I made, no matter what the circumstance, I could count on Him. I might get a “why did you do that son?” discussion but that was always after the dust settled and the crisis was over.
That summer was filled with all kinds of adventures. One of those “adventures” included the pretty girl across the street. I was 14 and she was 16. She was an “older woman” and I was really smitten by her. She actually took the initiative and wanted to spend time with me. Like any curious teenager that logically lead to “smooching in the neighbor’s house.” (You can pretend like you don’t know but you do know what I’m talking about) Little did I realize that this “sweet young lady” from across the street had an 18-year-old boyfriend. She left that part out of the introductions. So you get the picture…kissing on someone elses girlfriend…bad news. I was still waiting on my “growth spurt” so I was still a small 14-year-old. The 18-year-old boyfriend was shaving twice a day.
Now imagine the excitement when the boyfriend shows up at the girls house. We are across the street. She recognizes his car’s engine (throaty muscle car with big rear tires and lots of horsepower) and jumps up in terror. I am clueless. I get the “we need to get out of here and you need to hide.” I have the big question mark over my head. Of course I know “smooching with the girl across the street” is likely an example of making bad choices. On some level it is “sinning” since I can imagine a better course of action. Still I don’t know why we are suddenly in panic mode. Then the light comes on for me. Now “a little sin” has been escalated to “life threatening.”
Here is where it gets good. Imagine the chase scene, running through a house out the back door, scampering through the yard and directly to the only place I would ever go. I run back to my Grandfather. I run right into his arms. 14 years old may seem pretty mature but in that moment I was a little child all over again. I tried to get the story out and start with my excuses but there wasn’t time. Instead I said simply “help me Granddaddy.” He didn’t hesitate. He sent me into the house while he went to the curb to meet the threat. I watched in amazement (from behind the window and the curtain) as my Grandfather explained the situation to this young man. When it was over that 18-year-old boy looked like a frightened 3-year-old.
I had no more issues that summer with 18-year-old boyfriends or girls with exceptional curiosity or sneaking around with less than admirable intentions. I did get to explain the situation but there were no penalties or lectures or punishments. My Grandfather was certain that I had already learned a valuable life lesson. Instead he took me fishing. What an awesome man. My Granddaddy. I do miss him.
Now I want you to put yourself in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. They are walking in the garden with Jesus. They are spending quality time with their creator. They talk about plant and animal names, the beauty of the garden and how awesome it is to have such an intimate relationship. God loved them so much that He warned them about the tree, you know the one:
Gen 2:9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight or to be desired—good (suitable, pleasant) for food; the tree of life also in the center of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of [the difference between] good and evil and blessing and calamity. (AMP)
He told them about the danger of eating from this tree:
Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
Now the devil tempts them with doing good. Yeah, I said doing good. This is what he said:
Gen 3:4 But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. (AMP)
She had just been walking with God that morning. She had spent time with Him every day. This is the amazing God that created her and her husband. He was the source of life, their friend, their father, their brother. He was Jesus walking with them in the Garden. There had never been laws or rules or punishment or hardship of any kind. God was good, perfectly good. He was the very person they idolized and looked up to. He was beautiful and magnificent and impressive and kind and generous and loving and merciful and…well God. So when the devil tempted them he used their desire to please God as the crow bar of manipulation. I can imagine Eve thinking “of course to be like God would be fantastic so we could always make good choices and please Him and be good like Him.” Can you see it?
Then they ate. The knowledge of good and evil bombarded them with shame and guilt and condemnation. So let me ask you this question:
“Why didn’t they run to God like I did to my Grandfather?”
The answer is they “died.” The fruit poisoned their ability to see a good God. They were just with Him and now they feared Him. This same God that would die as a servant to mankind at the hands of mankind, this same God that loves us so much He dies for us, this perfectly good God they now feared. Doesn’t it perplex you? It does me. I believe it proves that they “died” in that moment. If they would have still been able to discern a perfectly good God they would have run to Him and said “Jesus look at what the devil did, we really messed up and we need your help.” Instead they ran and hid in the bushes.
We have been doing the same thing ever since. In the last post I talked about how our fallen human hearts don’t have understanding. I believe at the very center of man’s fallen nature is his inability to fully see our loving Father just like He is. We see shadows and glimpses. We believe in circumstance and lies instead of who our God is. We CAN’T “see” in our fallen state. Add a dose of man-made religion and we institutionalize the lies about God. We agree with our fallen nature thinking and declare “God is good….BUT.”
Not possible. God is good or He isn’t.
That is why Jesus. That is why resurrection. The Holy Spirit is the only one that can restore us to the created state that can comprehend the goodness of God. We have to be born again to begin to see the depths of His goodness and Grace. We need Him to understand Him. We got really messed up when we ate the wrong fruit. Now Jesus sets us free from the lies that made us run and hide. We can run into the arms of Jesus for anything. We will make mistakes but instead of trying harder to be better we run into the arms of our Father and He sorts it out. We may be smooching with the wrong girl but God will come to the rescue. Think about it. If my Grandfather, a regular old human filled with Jesus can save me don’t you think that the origin of love and goodness can save us? We may “have surely died” when we consumed the wrong fruit but Jesus gives us life and freedom to “see” Him again as He is.
We will take a look at what this means to us now as believers, unbelievers, evangelist and more in the next few posts. Stay tuned.