Week 3, Day 3: Fall
In the Fall chapter of the gospel story, we learn why our world is so broken.
When we look at the world today, there is much to lament: war and conflict and violence, injustice and oppression, marginalization and racism, natural disasters and human-made tragedies. When we look at our city today, there is much to lament: racial division and tension, the growing divide between rich and poor, vicious cycles of brokenness in our schools and in our neighborhoods. And when we look at ourselves today, there is much to lament: our selfishness, the wounds and baggage we carry from our past, the ways we hurt others and ourselves.
Why is life this way? The Bible uses the word “sin.” Sin signifies brokenness and rebellion against God, the human propensity to warp and distort things — in our own lives and in other people’s lives, our inclination to separate ourselves from God, from one another, and from creation. Two analogies may be helpful for understanding sin. Imagine you are walking along a path toward a destination; sin would be leaving the path or taking a wrong road. Or imagine aiming an arrow at a target; sin would be missing the target — or even aiming elsewhere! English author Francis Spufford explains:
what we’re talking about here is not just our tendency to lurch and stumble and screw up by accident, our passive role as agents of entropy. It’s our active inclination to break stuff, “stuff” here including moods, promises, relationships we care about, and our own well-being and other people’s ...
READ: GENESIS 3
In the story of Genesis, the man and the woman choose to believe the serpent over God, to doubt God’s provision and promise, to put their own appetites and needs and judgments above what God had said to them. And while they do not immediately die physically, death nonetheless resulted. Sin always results in death of some kind. To quote James Choung, we are “damaged by evil.”
There is alienation from God. God created people to be in relationship with him; and he wanted it to be a true relationship, motivated by love not obligation or coercion. Love requires choice, though, and free will; so God gave human beings the choice to relate with him or not, to love him or not, to trust him or not. But the Bible tells us that humans used their freedom to willfully rebel against God, cutting themselves off from the source of life. Think about what would happen if your body started rejecting oxygen: you’d die. If you’re cut off — or if you cut yourself off — from the source of life, the natural — and tragic — consequence is death.
There is enmity between people. The man blames his wife for his own sin (Genesis 3:12), and as a result of their disobedience, God tells the woman that the way she and her husband relate to one another will become distorted (3:16). Whereas at the end of Genesis 2, the man and woman are described as “naked and unashamed” (2:25), a reflection of their complete openness and mutual trust, sin causes them to hide from one another. This is the death of trust, vulnerability, intimacy, and acceptance, and it is evident in individual relationships as well as in the ways we relate as communities, societies, and even countries.
There is disharmony between humans and God’s creation. The ground becomes cursed because of human sin, and the man’s work becomes a struggle rather than a joy (3:17-19). Even today, we see how people misuse the earth and its resources — deforestation, dumping chemicals into waterways, over-farming, overconsumption of fossil fuels — rather than stewarding them as God intended us to. In turn, we experience the consequences of those abuses, as well as earthquakes, wildfires, droughts, famines, and floods. The Bible says that the whole creation suffers from bondage to the decay of human sin, groaning until the children of God are revealed — that is, when we live into our identity as image-bearers of God and responsible stewards of creation (Romans 8:19-22).
Every time we sin, we choose a reality opposed to that for which we were made. We choose by our actions to be separated from God, the creator and designer and source of life. When we lie or when we ignore someone in need or when we hurt those who care about us or when we choose to gratify ourselves at the expense of others, sexually, emotionally, relationally, financially — when we choose anything other than life with God, which is what we were made for, we choose death.
It’s as if we are keys, made to fit the door of life with God, and we’re grating and grinding and scraping and pieces are being broken off because we’re trying to open all these other doors, and it’s not getting us anywhere. Or at least, not anywhere good.
Now think about those selfish or hurtful decisions, drawn out over the course of your life, however many years you’ve been around. And now think about those decisions, drawn out across the planet — nearly eight billion lives. And now think about the course of human history, drawn out across time — thousands and thousands and thousands of years, billions and billions of lives, a multitude of decisions choosing death over life.
Is it any wonder our world is hurting?
REFLECT & RESPOND
Head: What are some of the consequences of sin you have encountered in your own life and family? How do “sin” and “the Devil” fit—or not—with the way you see and experience brokenness in the world?
Heart: What brokenness grieves you right now? What are the things you do (or can do) to try to avoid or minimize brokenness and sin?
Hands: Take two pictures today of things that are broken or that represent how things are not how they ought to be.
Write down (some of) the things in your life and in the world that break your heart. Offer them up to God and ask him to meet you in the pain and longing for restoration.
Sin always results
in death of some kind.