In the beginning, God was. God was perfectly content in the Divine Community, but because it pleased Him, He began to author an epic narrative: a Story about Himself. The Author began speaking existence into being: things like light, dark, water, land, fruits, vegetables, animals. Creator God created because it pleased Him to do so. Everything He created was perfect and the Divine Community delighted in it. Creation crescendoed all the way to God's Best work: humanity.
Artisan God wanted to create something that He could exist in a reciprocal relationship with so He did something unlike He had ever done before: God got on His hands and knees and started to play in the dirt. As He played, the dirt took the form of a human being: there was the Creator and there was the dirt-man. The Creator exhaled His breath into the dirt-man, the exhale of God inhabited the dirt-man and it changed everything about him. The exhale of God brought life and the dirt-man became a human being.
The human woke up to God and in that first awakening, the human being knew that everything that he was, everything that he was to become, and everything that He needed would come from the One who had just exhaled into Him. He knew that he had been created to be in relationship with the Creator. As he looked around, he also knew that he was waking up into a Story that was already in progress: a Story that wasn't about him.
Created in the image of the Creator, the human being was invited to steward, name, and co-create. This he did for sometime until God put him to sleep. When he woke up the second time, he woke up to the pinnacle of God's creative work: woman. Together, they ruled, stewarded, and co-created as participants in a Story that included them but that wasn't about them. Their existence was defined by The One who had created them, chose them, and danced with them. Intimacy defined their relationship. The community of God and the community of humanity danced together in a garden called Eden. It was the way it was supposed to be and it was very good.
Over time, dancing to the rhythms of the Creator didn't work for the humans anymore. They developed a fantasy for living that they convinced themselves was better than the Way of the Creator. They chased their fantasy and broke through the only boundary God had established for them: they took and ate from an off-limits tree.
Why, when things were so good, did we chase a faulty fantasy?
Because rather than seeing a boundary as an act of love, it caused us to perceive God as holding back from us. We made God tragic.
We grew progressively dissatisfied with the Story not being about us: we were no longer content in our support roles. The best way forward, we thought, was the way of independence, self-sufficiency, disobedience. The best way forward, we thought, was to replace God with ourselves. We deceived ourselves into believing that sin would make the Story about us.
As the created chose themselves over the Creator, Shalom between God and humanity was shattered. The humans knew the Creator to abhor sin and, therefore, expected cataclysmic destruction - the end of a short story - so they hid, awaiting their sure-to-come extinction. They hid from themselves. They hid from each other. And they hid from the One whom they had rejected.
The great surprise, however, was that He didn't end the Story with the apple. The surprise is that God allowed sin to enter the world and it wasn't the end. Rather, grace saturated creation, as the Creator made His way through Eden, calling out, "Where are you?" While God hated their rebellion, He was crazy about them - The Story would continue.
"Where are you?" It's an odd question for the Creator to ask of creation. It was a rhetorical question with a specific intent: to enable the humans to identify that their fantasy chasing meant that things were no longer as they were intended to be. Rather than finding themselves in the warmth of His embrace, they found themselves isolated, ashamed, hiding, and afraid.
and God hated it.
Where once, the exhale of God and the rhythmic sound of His heart moved them in His Way, now, Shame, Fear & Isolation, never before in the experience or vocabulary of creation, fueled their motion.
and God hated it.
God asked, "Where are you?" and the human answered, "Neither where I'm supposed to be nor where I could be. We're east of You. We're east of Your best for us."
"How did you get there?" God asked.
The man answered with a two-fingered blame: "this woman that YOU gave me!"
And blame became marbled in to the experience of being human.
and God hated it.
As the man sought his own preservation at the expense of the woman, their interpersonal relationship went terminal. As he lived for himself, individualism was born - community began to die.
and God hated it.
God turned to the woman asked, "Is this true?" To which the woman pointed her finger at the snake and says, "The devil made me do it!"
Once upon a time, the community of God and the community of humanity danced a divine dance that was set to the rhythms of God. Once upon a time, we weren't but now, we're ashamed, afraid, isolated & pointing our fingers at each saying "It's your fault!"
In a place called Eden, a place where everything was in its right place and where the favor and peace of God rested, one conversation and one decision fractured everything. In one moment, humanity went from intimate unity expressed in nudity to fig-leaf wearing, isolated, blaming individuals fabricating tragic stories about God and each other.
and God hated it.
but sin didn't cause the Author to put His pencil down.
Grace, not destruction, would be His Way forward.
The Creator did 2 things:
First (Gen. 3:21), He made garments of skin for the humans. The Master Tailor tailored clothes of animal skin and leather for what was still the pinnacle of His creative work.
Naturally, before garments of leather could be made, animals had to die. Sin meant that Blood had to be spilt. Something had to die so that the shame of their sin could be covered.
and God hated that too.
Second (Gen. 3:23-24), He drove them east of Eden - east of where they were created to be - east of where things were as they were meant to be - east of the divine dance. He drove them east to work in the very stuff that they were made from: the dirt.
It was east of Eden where the human beings conceived and gave birth. Two sons were born: the older was a farmer and the younger was a shepherd.
To survive, the farmer chose the best plot of land and, over time, cultivated it such that crops emerged. The farmer's survival required being settled.
The shepherd's existence was nomadic: he went wherever he could find food for his flocks. He was a wanderer with no real sense of boundaries but with an eye for potential.
The Story continues with two brothers, living east of Eden. One settled and the other wandered. The Settler knew and protected what was his. The Wanderer saw it all is his and, therefore, had no need to protect anything. The lives of these two brothers were certain to collide, and when they collided, the blood of the Wanderer was spilt: the Settler killed the Wanderer (Gen. 4:8). The self-preservation that began with the parents accelerated until the first co-created human being killed the second.
Brokenness, Anger, Self-Serving defensiveness, oppressive power relations and petty jealousy meant that the Settler had the blood of his brother on his hands.
The God who chose not to end The Story with the apple knew that It would get worse before it got better.
It did and God hated it.
But sin didn't cause the Author to put His pencil down.
Grace and not destruction would be His Way forward.
God asked a question, a second rhetorical one: "Where's your little brother?" (Gen. 4:9)
Rather than the blame-game of his father, the Settler lied and shirked any kind of responsibility for the other. I don't know." he said. "I'm not his keeper! (Gen. 4:9)
That's when God asked a question, however, this one wasn't rhetorical: "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground." (Gen 4:10)
What? The Wanderer's blood has a voice and that voice cries out to God? God can hear the voice of the Wanderer's blood?
God cursed the Settler. Now, you will be the wanderer. (Gen. 4:16) And his wandering took him east of East of Eden.
As our story pauses here for the night, we find ourselves east of Eden. We are east of where we were created to be. We are east of the divine dance. Something is not right. We are hiding, isolated, blaming, lying, and fabricating tragic stories about God, ourselves and each other. We're driven by independence and self-sufficiency. To the death, we protect what we think is our own. In so doing, we've become efficient at shirking responsibility for the other. We have no peace. Our Blood is on our hands and we're powerless to do anything about it. A divine kind of washing is necessary.