Tag Archives: Adam

God’s People, part 2: Adam

Read Genesis 2:4-25; 3:1-24

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second Man, came from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:47 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly are like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

AdamAndEve01Part 2: Adam. As I think is evident from the last devotion, Adam tends to be more favorably viewed than Eve. The text is often read very sympathetically toward him; however, I do not believe that we are reading the text the way it was intended to be read. In fact, I believe we are reading more into it than is really there. Before I move forward, I want to make this point very clearly: Neither Adam nor Eve were greater or worse than the other. They both were the first humans, they both chose the way they did, and they both have something valuable to reveal in each of us regardless of what sex we were born.

We often to think of the first male human being’s name as, “Adam.” What many do not realize is that Adam is the English transliterated word for the Hebrew word, אָדָם, which is pronounced aw-dawm’. This Hebrew word literally means, humankind or human being. In this context, this human being happened to be a male; however, the meaning of the word adam is actually broader than that. So, when the Scripture says that “the LORD God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed life into his nostrils”, the text is actually saying that the LORD God formed the human being out of the dust in the ground, and breathed life into his nostrils.”

It is important to note that the man is not named throughout all of the second creation story found Genesis 2:4-25. This person is simply referred to as “the man”, or the human being. Thi human being clearly male in anatomy and in gender; however, he remains unnamed. This is truly ironic, being that this nameless man is the one who takes it upon himself to give everything else names. This man, as he was created, thought of other beings as precious enough to name. Naming something also denotes being in relationship with it. Here we have the first human being, seeking to be in relationship and putting the other (in this case God’s creation) first. Indeed, and it was good.

Again, it is far easier to look at the wrongdoings and shortcomings of Adam. It is easier for us to focus on the fact that he ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that he sheepishly blamed Eve when God was holding him accountable, and that his sin ultimately led to the first animal sacrifice, the switch from being one with Creation to dominating and destroying it, the switch from vegan to omnivore (where we kill and eat animals for food…compare Genesis 1:29-31; 2:16-17  to Genesis 9:1-4) and, of course, the first sibling rivalry, which in turn led to the first account of murder in human history.

Whether you are one who takes these accounts as literal, historical fact or not is beside the point, because either way, these stories are meant to convey a truth to the reader. Adam was created to be creative, to be loving, to be a partner, to be in relationship, and ot be the caretaker of all God’s creation. Adam was created to put others first, and to also take care of himself. It isn’t until Genesis 3, where the tragic sin occurs, that the man is given the name, “Adam” by the narrator.

What I think is important for us to realize, is that we, too, are adam. We are human beings and we were created to be exactly what Adam was created to be. We were created to create, to love, to partner and form commmunity, and to be the caretakers of each other as well as God’s creation. Yet, just like Adam, our sin gets in our way and, as a result, we fall from the ideal of what we were created to be.  Yet, God did not give up on human beings, and become one. God took on the very flesh given to adam and became adam. We of course, know the second adam to be Jesus the Christ, who showed us the way to be truly human according to God’s great redemptive plan! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
We are all Adam’s children – it’s just the skin that makes all the difference.” – Navjot Singh Sidhu

PRAYER
Lord, help me beyond my human sin and lead me from the state of the first Adam, to the redemption and glory of the second. Amen.

God’s People, part 1: Eve

Read Genesis 2:4-25; 3:1-24

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live.” (Genesis 3:20 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly are like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

AdamAndEve01Part 1: Eve. When we think of Eve, we tend to think in negative and sexual terms. That last one may make you uncomfortable to read, but it is true. Eve is commonly known as the mother of us all, but only because she chose to disobey God and lured Adam to do the same. Her sin, as it is commonly understood, led women into having labor pains and to the establishment of patriarchy (aka women being under the dominion of men). Sadly, our common way of understanding things does an injustice to Eve herself, and it has been damning for women throughout the millennia.

I also think that our tradition, in this regard, does an injustice to the Scriptures themselv es, as I think we tend to lay more blame on Eve than we do on Adam. My reading and interpretation of Scriptures leads me to a different place. By focusing on the sin of Eve, we also miss the beauty of her inherent goodness that is a reflection of the divine image of God. While the story has Eve coming from man, it is only because God realized that man was incomplete without woman. The story is kind of comical in how it is structred because God sets out to create a partner for Adam and has to give it a couple of attempts before getting it right.

The first time round God gave Adam animals, but ended up finding out that humans and animals don’t make a good match. Then God tries again and this time puts Adam asleep and forms woman from Adam’s rib. In other words, Eve was not a sheep or a donkey or a horse or any other animal. Eve was another human being like Adam, made from the same flesh and blood. The important thing to note is that Eve completed Adam.

Yes, Eve did sin, but it is important to realize that it was Adam who God told not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That was a direct command from God to Adam before Eve was even created. Presumably, as the story never specifies, Adam told Eve; however, it’s no wonder that Eve was the vulnerable target for the shrewd and crafty serpent. She had less of an understanding  as to why they could not eat from that tree, and so the serpent lured her in. Despite that, Adam is still culpable because he was the one who truly knew better.

Yet, that still misses the ultimate point being made here. Eve did not let her sin weigh her down. She became the mother of all despite many painful and tragic circumstances. Also, while sin may have entered the world through the first people, so did true LOVE. Why, you might ask? Because, through Adam and Eve’s choice came God’s plan of redemption through Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate embodiment of God’s faithful, unconditional love. Christ is the clear choice God has given us in regard to away out of our sin and back into a relationship with our Creator.

We all make choices and those choices all bear consequences. But that does not make us any less God’s people. The story of Eve drives that point home. Eve did not let sin have the final word and, as such, she became a part of God’s redemption plan as God would choose to become one of her descendents and redeem the world. God does not want you mired by your choices or their consequences, but wants you to move forward from them, like Eve did, and allow God to guide you toward being who you were created to be.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Grace is a much more accurate word to use when dealing with the state of human existence. God gives us unmerited favor through Jesus Christ, and since Adam and Eve, our lives have depended on it.” – Monica Johnson

PRAYER
Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. Still, despite my sin, give me the perseverance of Eve who moved beyond her sin, was fruitful and multiplied. Because of Eve’s faithful perseverance, your Son Jesus Christ came into the world and conquered sin and death. Amen.

Better Than Eden

Read Genesis 2:4-25

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE 
“And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.” (Genesis 1:30 NLT)

  Most people, by now, know that I am vegan. I am not shy about that fact, as it is a lifestyle change that not only transformed me into who I am today, but one that saved my very life. The first year of my being vegan was the roughest time for me, mostly because I had so much to come to terms with. I had to come to terms that I was no longer “fat”, not only in my own perception, but in other people’s pereception as well. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was disease free, that I no longer ate what anyone else in my circle of family, friends, and colleagues ate.

I had to come to terms with the fact that every meal would become a discussion about my lifestyle and that such discussions would cause others around the table to be angry at me, even if I wasn’t the one initiating the conversation, because they were “sick of hearing about it”. I also had to come to terms with the fact that some people would view my lifestyle as a threat to their own and attack me over it, especially on social media as I shared about my lifestyle, or shared recipes and/or things I learned on my Facebook wall.

Halfway through my first year, I had an idea about “Returning to Eden”. I thought it would make for a great book title, and I thought that I would be able to write about about my own journey of returning to eden. I got the idea of the name from a conversation I was having with a long-time friend about how the only life that existed in Eden as the vegan life. Adam, Eve, the animals, birds, bugs, lizards, and creepy crawlers were all created to eat and be sustained on vegetables (Genesis 1:29-31). God saw that as the ideal way of living, and so did the ancients evidentally.

The conversation was centered on how far humanity has fallen from that ideal, and how we could once again return to Eden. After all, I was on the way, wasn’t I? I had reversed my type-2 diabetes, lost over 75 lbs (at the time), eliminated my high blood pressure, and lowered my cholesterol to normal levels. Things were great and I was well on the returning to Eden.

Well, over time, reality hit. What has been lost can never be returned to. There was no going back to Eden. I believe that is why it says in Genesis, “After sending them out, the LORD God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And He placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24) It’s not that I take the account literally as if there were some Garden of Eden out there to be found, and if we found it we would see those Cherubim guarding it; rather, I believe the point of it is that Eden/Paradise/Creation as God intended it had been lost.

There was nothing that could be done to reclaim it. Certainly, eating from the Tree of Life would not have brought Eden back, or us back to Eden. Instead, it would have forever divided us from God in our sins. Eden could not be reclaimed, but God had something better than Eden planned. While sin and death were not God’s doing, God would conquer sin and death on the cross through Jesus the Christ. The empty tomb would be a sign forever opening up to the reality that human beings were God’s children, not by virtue of being Created by God, but by virtue of choosing to be in a loving relationship with God our Creator.

True LOVE is mutual LOVE. Love is not love by force nor can love exist without choice. LOVE is better than Eden and it is the Kingdom on Earth God has been building ever since humanity first chose their own independence over and above a mutual, loving, dependent relationship with our Creator. The days of Eden are over and the days of our bondage to sin are numbered. Behold, in Christ God has done something completely new and you are being invited to join in on that. God is inviting you to not only receive this true LOVE, but to extend it to the world and be a part of leading to a place far better than Eden.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

We can never head back to what has been lost, but we can change direction and head toward something far better if we so choose.

PRAYER

Lord, I thank you and praise you for your great intervention in my sinfulness. Lead me to lead others to a place far greater than Eden, to that heavenly Kingdom you have created for us all. Amen.

Deception

Read Genesis 3

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8, NRSV)

SerpentWhen we think of the Garden of Eden, we think of Adam and Eve. We think of a vast and luscious garden filled to the max with vegetables and fruits. We think of humanity and the animal world living side-by-side in peace with one another. We think of people living in a complete and perfect relationship with God and of pure, unadulterated innocence.

With that said, let’s be honest. That is not all we think of when we think of the Garden of Eden; rather, we think of human sin, of the forbidden tree with the forbidden fruit. We think of humanity’s desire to have knowledge of Good and Evil, to be like God with the ability to judge. We think of the Eve being duped by the deceptive snake that caused the fall of humanity from innocence, from paradise, and from the grace of God.

All of this, of course, assumes that we are reading the story correctly and not reading into it our own theological understanding that has been imparted to us by people within our own traditions. On the one hand, there can be no doubt that the Garden of Eden story tells a tale of a perfect creation that ends up becoming less than desirable due to sin. There can be no doubt that paradise falls into the hellish reality that we find in our world today. There can be no doubt that the Garden narrative tells the tale of how the evil in this world came to be.

Beyond what is true in our telling of the story, we often view the serpent as the deceptive one. It is true that the snake was revealed as the most cunning (עָרוּם, ‛ârûm, pronounced aw-room’) of all of the animals. Cunning, of course, is the skill of being able to attain one’s end through deceit. So, the snake was written in as a deceptive character for sure. With that said, the snake’s deception came through the truth, that Adam and Eve would not die (physically at least) if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Yet, the snake was not the only deceptive one and, contrary to popular belief, Eve was not guilty of causing the fall of humankind. Let us note forget that Eve was never given the direct command from God not to eat from the tree; rather, Adam was. The story would have assume that Eve was told not to by Adam, but one can also presuppose that she wasn’t given much more information. Eve was deceived by the cunning serpent, but Adam should have known better.

When God finally tracked them down and asked Adam if they had eaten from the forbidden tree,Adam responded with deception of his own. “The woman ate the fruit and then gave it to me.” While that is technically the truth, it is deceptive in that it implies that the real one at fault is Eve. It is the first example of humanity throwing the other, the innocent, under the proverbial bus. People will do anything to cover their own hides, and that is exactly what Adam does. He points the finger at Eve in order to avoid taking responsibility for his own actions.

This sin does not stop with Adam but passes down to his son Cain who murdered his brother Abel and tries to deceptively dismiss himself of the responsibility of that murder. From that point on, humanity became mired in its sins and the propensity to pass the buck and place the blame on others rather than taking responsibility.

In God, there is no deception and in God we cannot hide from the truth. For those who live in deceit, the presence of God is a scary thing because it brings them into the presence of the truth, which sears their souls with their responsibility in their sins. For those who live in the truth, they grow from their shortfalls and sins into a life that is centered on God and on community.

Rather than passing the buck, they take responsibility for their mistakes, pay the consequences, and grow into better people. This path, not the former, is the one that God is calling us all to. If we follow it, if we follow the path of the truth, then we will rise above the deceit and become godly people of character and integrity and we will begin to put an end to the deceptive work of the serpent in our lives.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
You may be able to deceive yourself and others, but you cannot deceive God who is the author of Truth.
PRAYER
Lord, fill me with your truth, no matter how painful it is, so that I may live in your light. Amen.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Read Matthew 1:18-23

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.’” (Isaiah 7:13-14)

O Come, O Come, EmmanuelIt is hard to put into words the fear, anxiety, sadness, depression and confusion that ran through most people’s minds at the close of this past Friday, December 14. By the end of the day we had learned, following spending the day watching the drama unfold on live TV, that 28 people had been shot and killed at an elementary school in Connecticut. Out of the 28, twenty of them were children between the ages of six and seven years old.

Often times, in tragedies such as this, people ask the question, “Where is God in all of this?”  After all, what kind of God would allow children to be born and grow up in a world that is seemingly as evil as this one is?  What kind of God would create “monsters” who go out and destroy those who are innocent?  What kind of God would be so cold as to not intervene when the lives of the innocent are at stake?

These are all valid and good questions to ask ourselves.  It is also safe to say that there really aren’t any answers that fully satisfy our need to understand how evil and God co-exist? I could offer a ton of Christianese clichés that sound good off the cuff, but that would only be to simplify something that is very complex; so, rather than offering easy answers to really tough questions, I will provide one of many possible ways in which we can reflect on what happened and what our response will be.

It is very easy for us to look at where we don’t see God only to miss out on where we are seeing God.  For instance, we look at Adam Lanza and see his actions as a prime example of God failing to be with us. Yet, we also fail to see that God was with the principal who lunged at Adam and was the first to be shot and killed. God was with the teachers as they did everything they could, including cover children with their own bodies, to save their students.  God was with the first responders.  God is also with those who are looking at ways to address the societal issues that end up allowing people like Adam to fall through the cracks unnoticed until it is too late. When Jesus called his disciples to care for “the least of these”, that included those who suffer from mental illness. Yet, in our society, mental illness is stigmatized and our health care system often doesn’t provide affordable ways for people suffering from mental illness to get the kind of care (not just drugs and a locked asylum door) that they need.

The fact of the matter is that bad things do happen. People have free will and choose to do all sorts of things that God would not wish for anyone to choose. But aside from that fact, we still have a God who loves us, a God who is with us, a God who provides hope even in the darkest of circumstances.  The Nativity story is a reminder of the hope of Emmanuel, or rather, the hope of God being with us. This God came to earth and became one of us; this God put others first and sought to be present with all people, regardless of their status or condition. This God was crucified by God’s own creation and resurrected back to life despite being put to death.  This God is the same God who was present with the teachers, administrators and first responders who worked desperately hard to save as many as possible, risking their own lives in the process. This God is the same God who is turning the media’s attention from labeling Adam as “the face of evil”, to looking at how people like Adam haven’t received the care they need.

While we cannot definitively answer the question of why bad things like this happen, aside from the obvious answers, we certainly can still have the hope of Emmanuel. Let us not forget that God never leaves us, nor forsakes us.  We can know that God is with us, and we can let God guide us to be instrumental in sparking the changes that are needed in the communities around us, the very changes that could protect other children and people from such acts of evil. Let us welcome Emmanuel in this world, by seeing God’s revelation in us.  We have been equipped to be the presence of God in the lives of those in need, whether they are children in distress or Adam Lanza’s slipping through the cracks. Let us be like the writer of Hebrews who with confidence proclaims, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid” (Hebrews 13:6).

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

We need not look any further than our own hearts, and the hearts of those around us, to find God.

PRAYER

Lord, I thank you for always being preset me, and thank you for revealing your presence in me. Let me witness to that Good News! Amen.