January 16, 2008

Part 3: God-Built

I want to start by asking you a question: have you ever journaled or meditated or imagined deeply what it was like when Adam and Eve were forced out of the Garden of Eden? About 98% of the people I ask honestly say no. Why? One simple reason: we're evangelicals! We only read what's actually in the Bible. We don't want to meditate too far from the actual text...

I understand the concerns of venturing too far away from the actual text. Many have drifted so far away into intellectualism or mysticism that they lose all grasp of what the Bible is telling us. I promise you I won't do that. But test me! Keep me accountable - I invite that. I want us to take a closer look at just how devastating our separation from God was and is. How is this connected to Double Life Highway? Journey with me and we'll find out...

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I spoke extensively about the dangers of the double life. Now, I want to go to the source or the root of this double life: the core of our human brokenness. My friends, we have been cursed by the fall...

To understand just how cursed we are, we first need to look at what it was like in Eden prior to the fall. Eden was a luscious land teeming with light and life. The mystical beauty surpassed any comparable thing we know of today. Imagine the most beautiful tropical beach or rain forest or mountain landscape: I suspect Eden surpasses it all.

God gave Adam and Eve every seed-bearing plant and every tree that has fruit on the face of the whole earth. He said, They will be yours for food. Adam and Eve had a limitless array of plants and fruits and berries to feast upon endlessly.

God went further. He also gave every green plant for food to all the beasts of the earth, the birds of the air, all creatures that move on the ground, and every other creature that has the breath of life in it.

God went further. He placed Adam in a very special garden in the east, called Eden. God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground in Eden that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. There was nothing Adam wanted that he did not already possess.

God went further still. He gave Adam the job of naming all the animals. It is important to note that none of these animals were meat-eaters. They all ate every green plant for food. Isaiah helps us meditate on or enter into holy imaginations of what Eden was like. Speaking of the future restoration of creation to its original Edenic state, he writes:

"The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Isaiah 11:6-9

God went further still. He saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone and that none of the other creatures were suitable for him. Instead of making a new creature from the dust as He had made Adam, HE instead put Adam into a deep sleep and formed Eve out of Adam's rib. When Adam saw her, he was astonished and proclaimed, This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman', for she was taken out of man. (Genesis 2:23)

Eden was watered by a river that flowed from Eden before separating into the four headwaters; the Pishon, the Gihon, the Tigris and the Euphrates. God placed Adam in the midst of all this and said You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.

Die? Don't all people die?

Yes and no. Yes, today, all people die with zero exceptions. But originally, in Eden, God created man in his own image. We were made in HIS likeness. Thus, we were intended to live forever with God in the Garden. We were never created to die - we were created to live forever. In fact, we do live forever. Jesus told the dead Lazarus' sister Martha, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26)

How can we die and yet never die? That makes no sense. It makes no sense unless we go back to the beginning to understand just how we were created. Moses writes, the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

Now it is making more sense. God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He was a physical body. But he was not yet a living being for he lacked something. What did he lack? The very breath of life. And where did that breath of life come from? It came from the breath of God.

This is a critical detail for it reveals that mankind is composed of two raw materials - one from the earth and one from Heaven. After the fall, God tells Adam, for dust you are and to dust you will return. (Genesis 3:19) So the earthly material is dust and surely we will die and be placed in the ground - to dust we will return. We all surely will die. So how can we live?

We can live because of the heavenly material which gives us life. Elihu, Job's friend, says it beautifully when he tells Job, The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4) So, we live today and we can live eternally because we are made not only of dust that surely will return to the earth but also of the very breath of God: we are made of spirit, the very spirit of God. Thus, there is a part of us that - in Jesus' own words - will never die. There is a part of us that can never die because God's Spirit is eternal - that is, He never dies.

Thus, we are made of dust and spirit. Our bodies will die. Our soul or spirit will live forever. We will place on hold for now the issue of where or what state we will live forever: in heaven forever with God; or outside of heaven forever separated from Him. We will come back to this point later. But for now, it is simply important to note that the conscious part of our very being - our very soul - will live eternally because that part of us is made from the breath of God's Spirit.

To conclude this part of the series, I encourage you to meditate or enter into holy imaginations on what it must have been like for Adam and Eve to be made to live forever with God in the Garden of Eden: where they ate anything they wanted without any eating disorders; where they were naked without any shame; where they were naked without any impure lust; where they lived among wild animals without any threat of harm; where they heard God's actual voice and were not afraid; where they constantly sensed the very presence of God's Spirit living with them in the garden; where they worked and took care of the garden and were wholly satisfied by their labor; where they lived without tears, pain, abuse, sin or death.

Like Adam and Eve, our design dictates that we are eternal spirit beings. We have been born in time but upon our deaths we will not die but live forever with God outside of time. This is worth investing our meditations and holy imaginations upon: not to venture away from the truth of the Bible; rather, to venture deeper into the Biblical truth to seriously consider our true identity as eternal spirit beings. If we gain a deeper understanding of this reality, we might just discover exactly what we need to overcome the dust of our flesh that is broken, hungry, weak, sinful and corrupted.

This raises our next question: if God made us so perfect, then why are we so utterly broken?

Join me in Part 4 as we search for answers to explain why we are broken to the core.

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