Adam and Eve were created to be in an intimate relationship with their Creator based on trust and love. With his craftiness, however, the Serpent talked about God as though he was not present and caused Adam and Eve to understand God in terms of religion, rather than relationship. Religion has then become the Church’s dominant way to interact with God, and yet he is calling us back to a grace-based relationship rather than a rule-driven religion.
For many Christians today, our relationship with God has been reduced to the means of a happy afterlife. Instead of understanding eternal life as unfolding right now, we often view eternal life as starting after we die, and so we focus on what happens after death instead of focusing on the here and now. When we make our relationship with God a religion, we tend to focus on rules and regulations to get us “over there”. Instead of realizing that God is here with us, we tend to think that God is over there and we need something to bridge the gap. So our relationship with God has become a means to an end. We need to get to heaven, so thus we need God. And yet God created us for so much more than just to use him for our own gain.
When God created Adam and Eve, he invited them to join in on the loving relationship(s) of the Trinity. God was with them 24/7 and they thrived in a loving relationship with the One who made and loved them. Yet the Serpent used his craftiness to bring doubt and confusion to something that once was so clear. The Serpent crafted his question in such a way that made it sound like God was not present. And instead of calling on God to talk to him directly, Eve too talked about God as though he were not there. And this was the beginning of religion: when a real and thriving relationship with God is replaced with conversations about God as though he is no longer here with us.
As we cultivate a relationship with God, it’s easy to forget that God is living and breathing and right here with us. He can easily become a topic to debate and to defend, instead of Person to love and be loved by. While we are called to use our minds to think and to learn, we are also called to love with our hearts. Let’s learn to do both well.
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