Recently, a book by Andrew Root has helped me to think about sin and its effects in a new light. In the following reflection on the story of Adam and Eve, Root describes how Adam’s sin problem is really a relationship problem. Satan’s trick is to get Adam to chase a shortcut to “being like God,” which is what Adam (rightly) wants to be:
“The serpent does not say, 'Hey are you hungry? Look at that tasty fruit; you should get your needs met.' No, the serpent says, 'Did God say...?' (Gen. 3:1); this is the temptation to violate God's very person by refusing God's communication. But the temptation becomes deeper: the serpent says, 'When you eat,' when you violate God's person by violating God's communicated word, 'you will become like God' (Gen. 3:5).
In other words, you can consume and possess God. Adam's sin is the sin of attempting to violate God's person, of wanting a goal (to be like God) outside the end of being in relationship with God, walking in the evening breeze of the garden (Gen. 3:8), simply being together and sharing in God's person. This is, after all, what Adam was created for, to indwell and be indwelt by God by being a person in relationship” (The Relational Pastor, 87).
Root’s retelling of the Adam story may be a little complicated (especially if you haven’t read the rest of his book), but I think his point is a good one.
Adam wanted to be like God--that’s good! That’s what he was made to be.
But instead of growing to be like God through the intimacy of a relationship with Him (walking with Him, listening to Him, imitating Him), Adam instead chooses to take a shortcut. “Eat this fruit,” Satan says, “and you will be like God.” By doing so, Adam sends a message to God that he cares more about his own benefits and interests than about his relationship with his Creator.
All too easily we can fall into the same temptation. It’s easy to want the benefits of a relationship with God without the sustained effort of actually maintaining the relationship.
But the relationship is everything. The relationship is the benefit. Through relationship with God, we may undergo the life-shaping transformation to become “like him.”
Shortcuts are selfish, tempting as they may be. In the end, they hurt God and others who seek a real and mutual bond, a true relationship.
So here’s the challenge:
Walk with God in the cool of the evening. Listen carefully. Follow closely. Invest the time and energy that a real relationship requires. In this way, we may be more like our Father and Creator, who longs to share a true relationship with his children.
Root, Andrew. The Relational Pastor: Sharing Christ By Sharing Ourselves. Downers Grove, IN: InterVarsity Press, 2013.
The cover photo can be accessed with a subscription to sharefaith.com.
The painting of Eden is the work of Jan Brueghel, and can be accessed here: By Jan Brueghel the Elder - http://www.doriapamphilj.it/roma/en/i-capolavori-doria-pamphilj/jan-brueghel-il-vecchio/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48703608