Friday, August 7, 2015

Glory Magnified: Thoughts on Utopia Lost

Why did Adam and Eve have to eat that fruit? It's all their fault my life stinks!
Have you ever thought something similar? I sure have. Every time I read Genesis I find myself wondering what it would have been like to live in Utopia: The Garden of Eden. No death to steal our loved ones away from us, no disease to wrack our bodies, no arguments to seperate best friends, perfect weather without crazy heat waves or cold snaps, no pollution to dim the beauty of creation.... The list could go on and on. And it does. And it's all Adam and Eve's fault!
It's funny, isn't it, how much we blame them for our problems? Somehow it calms our conscience a bit knowing that we can blame even our sin on them. I mean, we wouldn't do the things we do if they hadn't messed things up! But wait- let's consider a moment what that means.
What would life be like today if Adam and Eve had kept their hands in their proverbial pockets? What if that fruit were still on that tree? In my imagination, I see a society that lives in peaceful coexistence, enjoying the work placed before them by God as they prune trees and grass, pick fruit, work together to build houses, and give tons of attention to the menagerie of ever increasing animals and children. There wouldn't be any major problems to solve, any need to protect weaker members because there wouldn't be any. It would be eternal life, living in the moment, and being blissfully happy. These would be the type of people who if they'd been told to get on the ark, they'd go en mass. If they'd been told to leave Egypt and follow Moses, they'd instantly start walking without fear or doubt or any need for plagues. If there'd been a Goliath mocking God, they'd all pick up stones. If Christ had come to earth, they'd all instantly believe and never raise a hand against Him.
Are you beginning to see what I'm getting at? Without sin, fear, and death, all those amazing stories- those histories- would have never happened. Those moments when God's use of His people produced fear and wonder in those who looked on from afar would be unnecessary.
Joseph? He's directing those out picking fruit. There was no need for him to practically rule a country, save anyone from a famine or humble us with his forgiveness of his brothers.
Moses? He's pruning that bush under your window. It never burned without actually burning. His face never glowed with God's residual glory. He never overcame his fear and stammering to speak to a king and free his people through powerful plagues.
Joshua? He's never knocked down a wall in his life, but he's great at building them. He never had to show great courage, faith, and spiritual strength in leading a grumbling, faithless people or ridding the land of enemies. The passage, "Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and and my house we will serve the Lord," would have never been written.
David? He's a full time musician whose lilting notes are easy to work and dance to. No need to slay a giant while still a boy or prove his integrity by not killing King Saul. He'd never be king and all those powerful, heart-wrenching Psalms would never be written. It would never be said of him, "He is a man after my (God's) own heart," as if it were something unique and amazing.
And those are only a few examples. Both Scripture (Old and New Testaments) and history are full of people who went up against great opposition, crawled through hardships, and overcame self doubt and ridicule to do great things that they otherwise wouldn't have even considered. Those people like Newton, Carver,  Washington, Pasteur, King, and even moderns like Doctor Carter shine like bright lights in the darkness of this life. If there was no darkness to shine in, they'd be lost in the daylight. And they wouldn't do what God is most interested in: highlighting His glory.
I'd like you to think about this: What brings God more glory- everyone living perfect lives or following Him even though we stumble? What makes Him more attractive: a life of perpetual happiness or a man imprisoned, possibly facing persecution and death, who has a fire and love for fellow believers around the world that leads him to write bracing letters of encouragement and admonition? (Yes, I mean Paul.)
But mostly what I think about is how a life of sinlessness and perfection would be a life that didn't need the greatest act of glory in history- the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He'd never have come without a man and woman who did the dumbest thing they could possibly do by disobeying God's only rule. And we'd never slog through this life with a "hope and a future" in Heaven with Him. We'd never have the testimonies we have today. We'd never look at each other in awe and wonder, whispering, "Look what God has done!" Maybe we'd never truly see His glory without our own inadequacies to compare Him to.
Maybe life would have less meaning.
So next time you find yourself fighting the temptation to sin or are in a tough situation wondering "Why God?", remind yourself of one thing: You are a pinpoint of light magnifying God's glory in the darkness. No Utopia required.
Think about it.

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." -1 Cor. 10:31
" In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." -Matt. 5:16
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” -Rev. 4:11
"Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!" -Psalm 115:1
"So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace inkindness toward us in Christ Jesus." -Eph. 2:7