I had two personal encounters this week that illustrate the present polarization in America. The first was a young millennial guy I met in a Starbucks parking lot. I saw his lavender, yellow, and blue school bus and remarked that I had friends who had one like it back in the 70's.
It was a throw-back moment seeing him with a 'fro and full beard, tie-dyed shirt, and beads telling me of the protests he and his group had gone to on behalf of Native Americans. It was reminiscent of the hippie movement of my day.
My second encounter came at a dinner with friends. During casual conversation, one of the older persons expressed his agreement with the current crackdown on illegal immigration, but with a broad, derogatory statement about all immigrants.
Both individuals are convinced of their very different views on current cultural issues. What a contrast! How did we, as citizens of the United States, get so polarized? It's nothing new and yet, it's not political. It goes deeper than that.
Back at the beginning
Last week, I looked at the beginning of the story of redemption in the Bible. The primary reason the Father sent His Son Jesus as the Redeemer of humanity is God's original purpose for creating humankind—humans were originally created in His image (Gen 1:26-27).
Each person, since the beginning of creation, has the imprint of God. But God's original purpose and design went awry.
After forming the first man (adam in Hebrew) from the basic elements of earth and breathing life into him, God placed him in a beautiful garden—a paradise. In the middle of this well-watered paradise, God planted two trees—the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:7-9).
God gave the man permission to eat the fruit of all the trees except one—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God also created a life partner for the man who fit him perfectly. The man (ish in Hebrew) called her woman (ishshah in Hebrew) because she was literally part of him (Gen 2:20-22). They lived together naked and without shame, innocent of any evil (Gen 2:24-25).
God was content with all that He created and He said it was all good (Gen 1:31–2:3).
The beginning of FOMO
This is not a fairy tale. There is no "happily ever after" in this story. Although the first man and woman were in a state of innocence in paradise, it didn't continue that way.
Among all the creatures God created, one was especially clever—the serpent. He could speak to the humans and one day he approached the woman and questioned if God told them not to eat the fruit of any tree (Gen 3:1).
The woman clarified there was only one tree they weren't to eat from—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent countered this truth with the first lie—
You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil. (Gen 3:4-5 MSG)
Here is the first occurrence of FOMO—the fear of missing out. The serpent's question created doubt and his lie stirred up a well-spring of insatiable curiosity. He deceived her into thinking God was holding out something better from then than what they knew.
FOMO is not based in culture, trends, or even curiosity but now it's embedded in our human nature. We and our self-will don't want to miss out on something better. We don't want to be denied what we want or could have.
And so, the woman looked at this beautiful tree and its desirable fruit that would make a person wise. She reached out, took the fruit, and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband.
After they ate the fruit, their new insight made them realize they were naked. They saw each other without the innocence they knew before. Shame set in, so they hurried to cover it with a garment of fig leaves (Gen 3:6-7).
They fell from the perfect relationship of trust they knew with God. They crossed a line, one they couldn't erase. Only their Creator would be able to restore the relationship back to what it had been.
Most of the time, I hear the fall of humanity reduced to an issue of disobedience. Consequently, redemption is focused on dealing with sin. Indeed, it was disobedience to God's command not to eat of that tree which is sin—it missed the mark of what God intended.
But, it's the lack of trust in God that led to FOMO and led to their selfish choice of disobedience. It is not just a matter of bad morality but a bad choice and broken trust.
The story so far
This isn't the end of the story but here's a summary of what's taken place so far.
God created the earth and universe and all that exists including all life on earth. He created a man and woman who were naked and unashamed and placed them in paradise with two exceptional trees, they were not to eat the fruit of one.
A talking creature deceived the woman into thinking God was holding something back from her and her husband, so they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. As soon as they ate, they realized they were naked and tried to cover their shame with leaves from a tree.
The story continues, but here are two important things to remember about God's redemption of humanity so far—
- All humans were created in the image of God—we all have God's imprint in us
- Trust was broken between God and the man and woman, which precipitated a selfish, willful decision on the part of the man and woman to rebel against God's authority
Next, I'll look at the consequences of this break in the relationship of trust between God and the man and woman (Adam and Eve), and the consequences for the serpent.
We'll also get a glimpse of God's plan to restore what was lost in paradise.
Until then... if you have some thoughts or questions on all of this, please comment below or on Word-Strong's FaceBook page.
Thanks for reading and sharing!