They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
This Spring our church has been organizing several clean-up projects of streams around our area of South Nashville. In early April, we found ourselves with trash bags and gloves on ready to wade into the web of forest and water intermingled with trash. A few local neighbors had come out for the clean-up and a particular older lady looked at me as we were venturing in and said, “I’m just glad we’re going now when it’s a little cooler and there aren’t too many S N A K E S out!” As she said this, she looked around at the kids present. Apparently, she was spelling it out as to avoid striking fear into the hearts of the children there.
Genesis 3:15 continues to reverberate like a bell-ring in the air. There are many things in the wild that we should look out for, not the least being the disease carrying mosquito! But it almost seems pre-programmed for so many of us to hate snakes!
Our animosity towards these once legged long lizards is but one consequence of the brokenness found in Genesis 3. Quickly, we as humanity went from holy symbiosis with creation and creatures to being at odds with the very ground we were created from. Thorns and thistles and toil were to be the new way forward. A holy relationship seemed to be permanently broken and we were evicted from the place and the way it was all meant to be. I think about the image of C.S. Lewis’, “The Great Divorce,” in which the heavenly grass hurt the feet of those not fit for it. Was this on some level, the reason why we could no longer stay in Eden? We had been changed. Here in Genesis 3, becomes the place where this “fear” enters the world. (3:10) Something has shifted in a major way as God takes the morning stroll into the garden.
God comes to the garden saying “Where are you?” Could it be that God has become so vulnerable with humanity that he walks among them like a friend? Does God really not know where they are? Is God really that vulnerable with God’s people? Meanwhile, trust is broken. Adam and Eve have taken that which they were told not to, and instead of reciprocating this vulnerability, they are now hiding. God is coming in complete authenticity with his creation, and his creation is doing the one thing they were told not to do! Isn’t this always our temptation, to be fascinated with that one thing we should not have?
“Who told you that you were naked?”… What a great question! Since Genesis 3, we’ve been covering up, hiding, sneaking, blaming, taking, and consuming what was not ours to consume. Could it be that we are still today assuming we can consume that which we were never meant to have, and the consequence is a continual broken relationship with God’s creation? Just look at our global environmental struggles around clean air, soil, and water. We are facing the natural consequences for the ways in which we have taken more than our share from the earth. We were designed to be completely baren and open with God and creation, now we lurk and hide and have to use the leaves of creation to cover up what we’ve done.
When we preach “the fall” we must be careful not to blame God. As if, God has cursed us for our sin. But how might we more appropriately preach the story of our natural consequences when we choose to step outside God’s order for creation? What are the ways in which we may be embodying this sin of “taking and over-consuming” still today? How can we reconcile with the snakes and the grass and the soil beneath our feet? Our original dwelling on earth is in a garden of paradise, how might we remember to live today like the servants and keepers of this garden that we were created to be? (Gen 2:15)