Sunday July 17, 2022 | Greg Boyd
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’ ” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
The story of Genesis 3 identifies the lies at the root of all that is wrong with the world. These lies are fake news about the nature of God, ourselves, others and the purpose of the planet. When we buy into these lies, the resulting actions cause destruction.
The story of the Fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 expresses the most fundamental thing that is wrong with human beings. This is our story both individually and collectively, insofar as we are estranged from God. It’s a story of how we humans allowed ourselves to be seduced by the first fake news about the nature of God, about ourselves, others and the planet. This story explains why we treat God, ourselves, other people, and Earth rather poorly.
First let’s consider the lie about God that is the root of the Fall. We know the true God in the crucified Christ. According to the New Testament, the cross demonstrates that God’s very essence is perfect, other-oriented, self-sacrificial love. It is who God is, not just what God does. Everything God does reflects God’s perfect love. The crafty serpent suggested an alternative perspective on God. He enticed Eve to imagine a different story about the nature of God. At the root of everything that is wrong is that we humans believe fake news about the character of Abba Father.
The second lie is the fake news about Eve. The truth is that God created Eve to have the fullest life possible simply by having her life centered on God and overflowing with life back to God, to herself, to other people, and to the Earth and animal kingdom. But the crafty serpent unpacks another aspect of his fake news, suggesting that she was selling herself short by being content in walking with God in cool of the day. He challenged her to do something, to be all she could be and live her best possible life. Because Eve no longer trusted God for her fullness of life, she felt empty, which made her vulnerable to the enemy’s lie that she was not okay as she was. This is true of all of us when we believe the serpent’s lie. We are driven to feel fully alive, significant and secure by what we can do. Because we aren’t leaning on God to be the source of our fullness of life, we’re always yearning for more. This means that whatever gets in my way detracts from my fulfillment, making me feel insecure and insignificant.
When we believe fake news about God, we believe fake news about ourselves. In turn, then, we will also believe fake news about others and the planet. Eve acts like she is God and can assign worth to things based on how they meet her needs and measure up to her expectations or not. Eve not only became a human doer, she also became the quintessential human consumer. This is the story of all of us, to whatever degree we are conformed to what the apostle Paul called “the pattern of this world.” In this view, everything exists for our consumption, to meet our needs, and on this basis we judge people and things to be good or evil.
Our job is to believe and act on truth. First, we must take great care to make sure we are always imagining the true God as he is revealed in the crucified Christ and therefore purge our minds of all images of God that are not consistent with the image we are given on the cross. We can only truly love God to the degree that our conception of God is lovable. You are already loved and you can fully live into your identity which has been given to you by the God who loves you. The truth about God and about ourselves will help us to see the truth about others and the environment. All have unsurpassable worth, whether we agree with them or not, and we are called to be stewards of the Earth and the animal kingdom.