A sermon preached at The Federated Church, Weatherford, OK: Genesis 3:1-9
Besides the common saying that “there are two things that you can be certain of in life death and taxes” I would add two more things. You can be certain that human beings like you and me will do stupid things from time to time and also not want to admit it.
And along these lines, today we’re continuing our Lenten sermon series —lessons that can be learned about who we really are as human beings from the first family.
Last week if you followed in the online snow church plan you saw that Genesis 1:28 calls us caretakers of all of creation. God wanted his image bearers—like you and me— to rule over all of creation and ensure its success. We are invited into a relationship with the flowers of the earth and the birds of the air. We are invited to be good stewards of the creation we’re given by God.
But, by time we get to Genesis 3, times are changing though.
The trust that had upheld the role of God as Creator and woman and man as creations is questioned.
Genesis 3 is really such a familiar story not just for kids in Sunday School, but one we study in classical literature and find alluded to in modern movies.
And, culturally, interpretations of Genesis 3 have a lot to do with why relations between the male and female expressions of creation are pitted against one another. For scripture tells us that it is the woman who made the poor choice first.
Genesis 3 is a passage in New Testament gospel language is often referred to as “the fall” (though never in the Old Testament is this phrase actually used) for it’s the moment, we are told by scholars like the Apostle Paul that would spin in motion the need for Christ’ redemptive act. For as Adam and Eve sinned so would we. And a price would need to be paid.
The passage begins by telling us that the serpent was more crafty than the other animals and talks (No, this is not a Disney movie and so let’s just stop here and note that we just heard a reference to a talking snake—something that is so easily overlooked in our familiarity of the passage). The serpent says to Adam and Eve: “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden?’”
If we go back to the 2nd account of creation in Genesis 2, we learn that indeed God did put Adam and Eve in a lovely place but he gave them one boundary. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.”
And the serpent’s question brings this rule of by God’s into question. He asks Adam and Eve to reconsider WHY this rule was in place. Why did God NOT let them in on the whole story? Was that really fair?
Look with me at verse 4: “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.”
We are so quick, I think to blame the serpent or to call him the devil incarnate but one commentary says in this, “the serpent acts not as a deceiver but as truth-teller.”
Because it WAS true that God gave them a boundary and didn’t tell them why. And if they did trespass the boundary, their eyes would be opened to more of the world than previously known. But the question was, in context of God’s relationship with Adam and Eve was this ok? Could they not know everything and could God still be trusted?
The seed of doubt is planned in Eve’s and Adam’s minds. Through the serpent’s words, their doubt leads to temptation and then action.
Eve saw the delight that was the fruit.
She ate it.
She offered some to her husband. He ate it.
And just as the serpent eluded to, their eyes were open. The world suddenly looked completely different.
One commentator describes the aftermath in this way, Adam and Eve “realize that, now having to decide for themselves what is in their own best interest, everything looks somewhat different. Having decided to be on their own, they see the world entirely through their own eyes. They now operate totally out of their own resources.”
And there’s one word that sums it all up: shame.
Adam and Eve, after breaking the parental bond of trust with God, are ashamed of what they’ve done, what they look like, what their resources have left them with and most of all afraid of what might come next.
With depleted resources, they can’t face each other—scripture tells us that for first time they realize their own nakedness. And they can’t face God. When they hear Creator God walking among the earth to be with them at the end of the evening breeze, Adam and Eve panic.
Their next move is to hide.
And no, this wasn’t a fun game of hide-and-go seek. No, these grown-up adults ran and took cover among the greenery of a nearby bush or tree. They don’t want God to find them.
What a story this is! And I believe so easy to remove ourselves from it as if it’s just a metaphoric tale of something so out of touch with our identity and our own patterns of relationships with God and neighbor.
But the truth I have to offer you this morning about yourself is that you are an hider too. We all are hiders.
We are hiders—and sometimes it looks like lying.
Consider this: a lawyer friend of mine recently told me about a case he was working on at his firm.
Two guys were going out for drinks one Friday night to celebrate the promotion of another friend of theirs and went a little overboard. They both had one margarita too many. Instead of calling a cab or another friend to take them home when the night was over, the two friends got in the car and decided to find their way by themselves. They drove too fast on the freeway and begin to swerve all over the place putting other lives at danger.
Of course, you know how the story goes, flashing blue lights soon pull up behind them. At that moment, the two men made their choice. Would they tell the truth? Or would they hide?
Oh, they hid alright! They played fruit basket turn over in the car with the passenger coming to the backseat and the driver coming to the passenger side. They curled themselves into a ball like children and pretended to be asleep, just stuck on the side of the road with car trouble.
When the officers came to ask who was driving the car, both gentlemen had blank looks on their faces as if aliens had driven them to the side of the road.
Neither of them would admit they drove or knew who drove the car, even when they were handcuffed and taken to the station for questioning. It seemed that lying was just easier than telling the truth. Sad but true.
But even if we haven’t committed a DUI lately, I bet if you took a moment and thought over all the words that came out of your mouth over the last week, there were times when you didn’t tell the truth.
We lie to avoid consequences of being reprimanded at work or hurting the feelings of our wife when she asks us how she looks in her new outfit or we lie to get out of jury duty so we can go on vacation. We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter, but it does.
We hide by lying more times, I believe than any of us could really count in a given week.
But, then sometimes hiding comes in the form of blaming someone else.
When is the last time you’ve been in a room full of children? I was visiting a friend of mine with several just this past week and remembered again that children are more sophisticated participants at the blame game than we might first give them credit for!
Invite a group of preschoolers to play together in your living room and let them have a it for a while and then ask, “Who make a mess of the toys?”
Or, “Who spit on the floor?”
Or, “Why is your sister crying?”
And, you probably won’t get a straight answer right away.
Even before children and utter complete sentences many of them learn the game of pointing fingers at others. “She did it.” “No, she did it.” “No, he did it.”
And such an exercise is not just for children. As adults, we blame others a lot.
We blame our parents or siblings for the emotional messes we uncover in our adult lives.
We blame our children for the anger we feel about why our lives didn’t turn out the way we wanted.
We blame our friends for not being present in times when we really thought they should show up and help us.
From the mouths of babes through our adult life, blaming other people is just easier than taking responsibility for our own actions.
It’s a lot easier to blame a third party as to why we lost our job or why we are in debt or why our daughter doesn’t speak to us anymore than to actually tell things like they are!
But then additionally, sometimes hiding takes the form of our avoiding the consequences of our actions altogether.
Several years ago this was headline news: “Fake death pilot, hiding alive in remote Florida.”
Marcus Schrenker, an Indiana businessman, married and father of three knew that his secret life was catching up with him.
He realized that state and national authorities had proof he embezzled millions from those who had trusted him as a financial advisor.
And, Marcus knew that his wife was on to his affair with another woman in the neighborhood.
And in all these things: here was no way that Marcus could face the facts. He did not have a “I’m sorry” in him nor did he want to go to jail.
So, Marcus made the choice to hide in the best way he knew how: stage his own death.
Though seemingly a little extreme, it worked for a while.
This trained pilot fell out of an airplane with get-a-way motorcycle nearby. And, he got himself situated at a campground, miles from anyone who might know him. He created a whole other identity and went about his day making new friends as if nothing strange had just happened.
(Though the police would be onto his plot in several days).
But hear me say this: it doesn’t take jumping out of an airplane and faking your death to avoid the consequences of your actions— and all of us have been there in one way or another.
In one of my congregations, there was a lovely woman who was very involved in the parish, the kind of lady who did anything asked of her to help out from the kitchen, to the women’s group to any sorts of mission activities. We all loved her for her great gifts! Yet, this was until somebody re-arranged the dishes in the kitchen and did not ask her permission to do so.
The day she found out about what happened and that some of her favorite dishes had already been taken to Good Will—she exploded on the church council and stormed out in rage.
Even though I and several other members of the church tried to go and talk to her, she never came back. The lady knew she was in the wrong. It was easier to go start over at another church than it was to come back and apologize to her dear friends for her controlling behavior and angry outburst.
And this is the world, you and I live in, my friends—our inheritance from father Adam and Mother Eve is one of hiding by lying, by blaming others, by avoiding our punishment thinking that if we just cover up ourselves in some bushes it will all be ok.
But, the good news of this passage comes in the last verse. For the Lord found Adam and Eve and said, “Where are you?”
Remember that truth we landed on a couple of weeks ago that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Well, here we see it clearly portrayed again. For there was no amount of hiding that was going to keep Adam and Eve from relationship with God as far as God was concerned.
Sure, there’d be consequences (which we’ll get to next week), but NOTHING was going to keep God from the invitation of relationship. They could not hide forever. And when they came out, God would be there.
And the same is true of you and I my friends: no amount of hiding can keep our compassionate Creator from relationship with us.
So I ask you this morning? How are you hiding from God? What are trying to cover up about your life? What do you NOT want people to know about you?
Hear the good news today: you will be found.