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A "Natural" Faith?

It was while staring into that fire pit that I summarized the meta-narrative with my friends … I said that if we think about Adam, that is, the first man, and his original relationship with God, it must have been beautiful.
In the last few years, I’ve thought about Adam … a lot.  Our Adam from Genesis, that is.  Really thinking about him.  I mean it … I would lay out in the hammock in my back yard and think about him for long periods of time.  Not Eve, for that would make it too complex for my simple mind.  Just Adam.

Now think about him for just a second and you tell me, what was life like for him?  There are a lot of answers one could give, but let me zoom in and tighten the question to look like this:  “What was an average day like for Adam

… and God

… together?”

Picture the scenario this way … a day in the life of Adam and God together, via hidden camera.  Now what do you see?  Think of it … picture it.

Do you know what I see?  First I’ll tell you what I don’t see … I don’t see a guy who gets up with an alarm a tad bit early because he had committed to himself that tomorrow would be different and he was going to, after years of futility, have that early-morning quiet-time.  I don’t see a man who desperately wants to explore God and spend time alone with him, but just doesn’t have the “self-discipline” in place to be consistent.  I don’t see a man who finds himself somewhat bored by his faith.  I don’t see a man who lives in guilt because he’s “supposed” to be a certain way, think a certain way, and behave a certain way … but he can’t seem to live up to that standard, but he’s good at faking it.

Nope, none of that … nor do you, right?  I’m pretty sure about that … I hope.

Rather … what I do see through that camera lens is something amazing.  Picture it with me.  What I see is someone who, upon hearing the voice of God, is awoken in the morning … because he recognizes the voice.  He responds to it … naturally … not only mentally, but spiritually, and even physically as well.  He does this because he is so intricately and intimately interwoven into the creator that his body, mind, and soul respond to his leading without hesitation.

He doesn’t need an alarm because when God calls him in the morning, it is natural that he would respond.

He doesn’t set quotas for the amount of time he wants to allocate for God that week, because it is all God’s … and his.

He doesn’t feel guilty about missing a personal devotional time with God … because their relationship is all personal devotion.

He actually hears God’s voice.  Not a booming voice yelling out to him to pick up a rake or something.  No … that’s not even needed, for God’s voice resides in the very thoughts and emotions of himself and he knows and responds to the creator as if that was nature itself.

Hmmm, now that’s beautiful, wouldn’t you agree?

I like to call that “walking in harmony” with God.  A friend of mine likes to use the word “rhythm” .

Adam’s entire mind, body, and spirit were one with the creator.  It wasn’t an effort.  It wasn’t a discipline that was on again or off again.  Literally, it was a “oneness” that was beautiful for both Adam and God.

Just think about it.  How amazing must that have been to be so “one” with the Father that your very thoughts, emotions, concerns, cares, and life responded directly to this interwoven relationship?

It’s a nice image.

But that image became distorted when sin entered Adam (and Eve) and the entire human race.   And by distortion, I mean that everything natural Adam had with God, in terms of the relationship I described above, was gone.  If I really look at it that way, I realize that what began after that was the first steps of “unnatural” living.

You know, something occurred to me only recently about all this … it makes so much more sense that Adam ran and hid when God came around.  It would be such a foreign concept to only experience God from the external.  He would not only feel naked physically, but spiritually and emotionally, as well.  I would think it would be a dramatic feeling of loneliness and abandonment.  A complete sense of confusion and lostness.  What could be worse?

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That is … until you get used to it.

It makes even more sense then when God says that Adam now knows both good and evil.   The idea of “know” here is that Adam actually experiences this knowledge … it is now something that internally, in mind, body, and soul he drinks in … thus …

… God’s prized creation was no longer as it was intended to be.  I phrase it like this:  creation’s intention became creation’s distortion … it was a complete twisting of the original plan … and thus, a new plan, a plan of restoration, was put into place.

A few weeks ago, Susan and I were hanging out with some friends at their house.  Our kids were all playing inside while the four of us sat on their porch staring at an engaging fire pit.  It was getting darker and darker and our stories that had us laughing were now shifting to questions about life.  And it was there that my friend, again, asked me why I do what I do … that is … why am I a pastor?

That is always such an awkward thing.  Susan and I don’t delineate our friends based upon whether or not they are part of our faith tradition or not.  Rather, we simply are drawn into friendships through our desire for community.  And so many of our friends are not from our church or even the evangelical  world, so they want to know what my reason for passing up the natural business possibilities of Boston (nearby) or something else … “why the ministry … you seem so normal (I’m sure they meant “cool”) … why?”

It was while staring into that fire pit that I summarized the meta-narrative with my friends … I said that if we think about Adam, that is, the first man, and his original relationship with God, it must have been beautiful.  And because I was writing this, I asked my friends to imagine what it must have been like.

You know what happened?  They got it … they could imagine it in their heads and to them, it too looked beautiful.  And because of their church tradition, they did know about “the fall” so that was clear.  I said, “Adam lost that relationship with God … and it must have been devastating to him.”  From there, I simply described God’s passion to be in a restored relationship with each of his creation.  Through the Jews, to Jesus, to now, there in their backyard.

My friend looked up at me and said, “Wow, that makes so much sense.”

The thing I want us to take from here so far is that Adam and God had something so beautiful and special, that we can’t lose that from our minds … it is actually the model or image for us to draw from.  And secondly, the giant story, as it unfolds, reveals some things that took me years to understand.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for my crisis moments,  I probably would never have seen them.  I’ll share that more in blogs to come.

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