Humans wrote the bible and perhaps our memories are a bit biased towards blaming snakes and women.***
But this is not just human memory, it is the Old Testament: a testimony of a people's relationship with God. Have you ever read Genesis 3 and focused on what God did? Let's see:
- God curses the snake (v.14) and the ground (v.17) but doesn't curse the humans. The humans are the ones who messed up, but God curses peripheral things. Humanity is untouched by God's curses and is given a huge portion of God's grace.
- God closes off the Garden not out of spite or wrath, but out of care that they not be tempted by the other Tree of Life also (v.22). God removed temptation out of care, not removed everlasting life out of spite or wrath.
God of Wrath this isn't. This is a God of Grace, who cares for the humans even as they see their actions hurt people (and animals) in ways they didn't expect.
Stories like this one are equal parts explanation of why things are the way they are and testimonies to the actions of God in the history of a people. We often point to human activity in these stories, but why not focus on God's actions? And God's actions are not angry but delicate, not spiteful but graceful, not condemning but articulating how the world will be much more difficult now but all is not cursed and irredeemable.
As we hack Christianity, we go back to the beginning, peel back the layers of tradition and history, and rediscover the God of Grace that has been there all along. Perhaps then it is when we also clothe the naked, when we also help those who toil on the cursed ground, when we also mourn the collateral damage from our sins...perhaps then we are closer to the God of Grace who still wanders in the garden alone.
I then read a post from Andy Bryan of Enter the Rainbow on "Eternal Life" in which he states:
I don’t think eternal life begins when we die, because if it had a beginning, then it wouldn’t be eternal. Eternal not only means “always will be” but also “always has been.” Shane Claiborne wrote about this in “The Irresistible Revolution,” saying that he is convinced “Jesus came not just to prepare us to die but to teach us how to live.” Eternal life is an ongoing something that we enter into when we decide to follow Jesus.The idea that we are called to do the hard work of embodying God's Kin(g)dom on Earth isn't new to me -- though a reminder is always good -- but I am particularly intrigued by this idea of everlasting life as being something that has always existed -- "like entering a flowing stream somewhere in the middle" as Andy says. Andy also cites Jeremiah 1:4's “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…
And while I don’t know exactly how to express the idea, because all language is metaphor, all of this means that saying “yes” to the life everlasting that Christ offers should therefore impact us in the present. Followers of Christ should live differently, better. In other words, I’m no expert on the “everlasting” part, but I’ll do my best to live the here and now like God wants me to.
Doesn’t it seem like sometimes we spend a lot of energy waiting around for heaven? As Shane Claiborne puts it, “Christians pretty much live like everybody else; they just sprinkle a little Jesus in along the way.” I don’t believe that we are supposed to live however we want and then let God sort it all out in the end. I believe we are supposed to live here and now as if the there and then has already come. Why else would be pray for God’s will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven?
[...] Jesus came to tell us that God’s reign on earth was among us, not in the far-off future, and certainly not in any earthly authority. And not only that, he came to embody that heavenly reign on earth in his very self. And it was hard work. You might say he worked himself to death.
Have you ever thought about how much in this world would change if Christians really lived the way Jesus says we should? What would it look life if we truly believed that we have been given life everlasting? How would you respond? How would you change?