How can there be so much beauty in this world alongside so much evil? How can there be so much love alongside so much hate? I asked myself these questions after Newtown; I asked myself these questions after Boston; I asked myself these questions after the earthquake in Iran; I asked myself these questions as another bomb exploded in Iraq.
When I look to the Bible, I am pushed back to the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God gives us all a choice, just like Adam and Eve. I believe that Eve sinned before she ate the fruit from the tree because, in her mind, she decided that God’s direction was not good and, therefore, she would decide for herself what was good. Adam, who was with her (if you read the Hebrew, this is clear), could have protested, but he too wanted to taste the fruit. Knowledge in Hebrew is more experiential than we normally think of it. Adam and Eve chose to experience good and evil, and the world has been making the same choice ever since. What was so bad about eating the fruit? It was a declaration that God does not know what is best. So, here we sit in a world where individuals (including ourselves) decide what is best – one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. And, with competing agendas and viewpoints, there is bound to be conflict. Since the Garden, we are no longer unified around the same goals and values. In other words, sin has not only separated us from God, it has separated us from each other. The reason Adam and Eve immediately covered themselves with fig leaves was not only to hide from God, but to hide from each other. If we seek first His kingdom, we can begin reassembling the broken pieces of unity. If we seek first His Kingdom, we can help restore the world to the Garden of Eden.
Associate Pastor Emeritus, Greg Zehner