Writer: Jon Sizelove
Big Idea: Every good story has a conflict because we live conflicted lives. When sin entered into the world, it was not just our relationship with God that was broken, but everything about how we find personal value, meaning, and how we relate to each other. We know something isn’t right with our world and in us. Every good story has an element of challenge, adversity, or conflict because they are part of our everyday lives. We viscerally identify with stories of brokenness because the story of humanity is an attempt to overcome brokenness within us, our relationships, and the world. The Bible calls this, “sin”. The character, Don Draper in the hit show Mad Men says, “We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had.” We long for things to be made right and according to the Biblical story, this longing begins the moment humanity falls as we search for “something out there” to fix it, but the question is not, “what” can fix us, it is “who”.
Key Passages: Genesis 3-4; John 5:39
Picture this. It is a beautiful day. Wisps of cotton-like clouds stretch across the Columbia blue sky. A cool gentle breeze is blowing across the field. Spring flowers wave in unison, as if to cheer on our hero. A young man with a focused and determined look on his face stands 60 meters from his target. He is holding a long Bamboo bow in his left hand. With precise movements he raises the bow and stands ready. Firmly fitting an arrow onto the string, he takes a deep breath and narrows his gaze onto the target. He waits while his mind clears of all distractions. Sensing the moment is right, he draws the string back with his right hand to just beyond his ear. Pausing for a moment to let his breathing stop, he unleashes his arrow. The arrow travels its course fighting against the buffeting misdirection of the atmosphere and the downward pull of gravity. The arrow ends its journey by sinking deeply into the target. Our hero looks and then heaves a deep sigh. He has sinned. His arrow sits a hand’s width to the left of the center of the target. He has missed his mark.
This is the classical definition of sin. In Greek culture the image of an archer missing his mark is how they represented the concept of sin. Likewise, the Jewish culture often used the picture of a warrior throwing a spear. The missing of the mark is sin. It does not matter how close one gets, if the arrow is not right in the center of the bullseye, it is off target. In Church settings we will often say that mankind’s problem is sin. Yet, is this ancient definition of sin all there is to it? Is it simply that we are not accurate with our actions and off by a little bit?
An evangelist stands on a busy street corner watching as tourists walk by. Boldly our evangelist starts up a conversation with a young sightseer. The question directed to this young tourist is, “Are you perfect?” After a short exchange of humorous questions and answers, our young tourist admits that they are in fact, “Not perfect.” Our evangelist, quoting from Matthew chapter 5, makes the statement that if you are not perfect you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.
As we look at mankind’s “sin”, is it simply that we are not perfect? Is it truly our mistakes or imperfections that keep us from entering Heaven? Is the simple fact that we are flawed individuals the thing that prevents us from experiencing eternal life? Is my problem imperfection?
We all sense that while the above statements on man’s sin are true, there seems to be something more to humanity’s problem. There is something systemic, something more sinister at work, something deeper at the heart of our sickness.
Let’s go back to where our journey started in Genesis chapter 2. In this passage we see God created a beautiful and wonderful world. A world God calls “good.” God creates Adam, a man whom God builds a wonderful relationship with, He cares about Adam and wants the best for him. God builds Adam a garden as his home and tasks Adam with purposeful activities. God gives Adam complete freedom and empowers him to explore this newly created world. The only restriction God gives Adam is, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Gen 2:17)
Adam and Eve do what God warned them not to do. In Christian teachings we call this event, “The Fall”. Here are a few questions we might ask about The Fall: Did the fate of humanity stem from a simple act of disobedience? Was it simply a bad choice? Or did Adam and Eve just get the wrong advice? When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they made deep and profound statements about who they were and how they viewed God. Their actions were not simply that of eating a forbidden fruit, their actions severed their relationship with God.
These are several statements that caused such a relational separation:
The 1st statement Adam and Eve made when they ate the fruit was that they no longer trusted God. In fact, they preferred to listen to the serpent and trusted the serpent more than they trusted God.
The 2nd statement Adam and Eve made is that God is a liar. Their actions demonstrated they did not believe God was telling the truth about the reality of the fruit and did not believe they would die.
The 3rd statement that Adam and Eve made is that God is not looking out for the best interest of mankind. God is holding mankind down, does not love mankind and is trying to oppress mankind by not allowing them to eat of the fruit that would make them ‘like God’.
Finally, we see that Adam and Eve declare that they are more important than God and their desires are more important than God’s desires. These proclamations, which were made through Adam and Eve’s actions, drove a wedge between themselves and God. They broke trust with God.
As we stand in the present, looking back at Adam and Eve, we may feel their situation is in no way similar to our situation. Their interaction with God is nothing like the way that we experience God and life today. And what God was asking of Adam and Even is different than what He asks of us. Yet, if we stop for a moment we see that our situations are, in fact, exactly the same.
All God really wanted Adam and Eve to do was to trust Him. God wanted Adam and Eve to trust that what He was telling them was true, that He loved them and had their best interest at heart. God wanted them to think beyond their own wants and desires. This is exactly what God is calling all of us to today. God places the same choice in front of us as He did Adam and Eve. Every moment of every day God gives us the same opportunity as Adam and Eve. The irony is that we actually go beyond the accusations of Adam and Eve and cry out that God is unjust to punish mankind for something Adam and Eve did. We smugly think that we are not guilty of their specific sin. We are blind to the fact that we have built a house in the shade of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and we continually eat its fruit day after day after day.
Mankind’s problem with sin is not that we are imperfect, it is that we don’t trust God and proclaim He is a liar. This sin sickness spread so that we do not even trust each other. This distrust has infected our souls to the point where distrust has turned into deep hatred. We hate God. We hate each other. We actively seek out opportunities to harm each other. This is our plight. We are lost, with no hope of ever finding our way on our own. What are we to do? There is an account in the Gospels (Matt 19, Mark 10, Luke 18) where Jesus tells the disciples that it is impossible for the wealthy to gain eternal life. Sensing the true depth of mankind’s problem with sin the disciples respond, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus affirms their rhetorical question by saying, “With man it is impossible.” If we continue to believe the lie that started in the Garden of Eden that God does not love us and cannot be trusted, then we are all lost with no hope of salvation. Yet, hope comes in the truth of salvation which is this, “With God all things are possible.” We simply need to trust that God does love us and He is going to save us (John 3:16)! Trust that God can not lie (Hebrews 6:18)! Eternal Life can come if we simply believe Jesus is who He says He is, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)
- If anyone is new, start here, if not go to question 2. When/how did you become aware of God’s love? Who were the people who played a key role in your spiritual journey? How? What are 2/3 key moments in your relationship with God? Take a moment to ask questions.
- When you consider the Christian faith, or talk to other people about it, what is one belief or story that many find difficult to believe?
Read Genesis 3-4
- How did the serpent deceive Eve?
- How did God respond to Adam & Eve?
- Why do you think it is so hard for us to trust God?
- What do you think is the most common barrier for people in the Bay Area to overcome before they start to trust God?
- Have you ever had someone break your trust?
- What would it take for you and that person to reconcile your relationship?
- In our daily lives, what are some simple ways that we can demonstrate that we trust God?
Prayer: Take a moment to share prayer requests and pray for each other.
Weekly Prayer Focus: Pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal He’s the only one who can fill the emptiness we’ve been trying to fill.