Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Difference Does It Make?

Several years ago, when we were all much younger, I was taking my older son, KC to his first cello lesson with a new teacher. I think he was in the third or fourth grade. That puts my younger son just a year behind him in second or third grade. If this hadn’t been the first lesson with this teacher, I would have just dropped him at the curb and waited outside, but because it was his first lesson, I walked him up to the door. I left Justin in the car. It was a typical day in San Antonio, hot and humid, so I left the engine running and the air on, and locked the car doors. (I know, I’m a terrible mother.)

Well, we got to the door and the teacher, by whom I was totally intimidated because he was the first chair cello in the San Antonio Symphony, asked me to step in so that I could give him some contact information and such. I turned and gave Justin the “stay-put” signal and stepped inside.

As this initial “interview” grew longer and longer, I was getting more and more uncomfortable about having left Justin in the car. And then, the doorbell rang. It was Justin who had become worried about me when I didn’t come right back out. I quickly apologized, finished giving the teacher the information and hurried outside.

I asked Justin for the keys and he indicated that they were still in the car. With sinking heart, I rushed to the car to find not only the keys still in the ignition, but the car still running…and all the doors carefully locked, even the back hatch that had saved us from being locked out on a couple of occasions before, because it had to be locked separately. Justin was very proud of himself because he had especially climbed over the backseat to make sure it was locked before he got out of the car.

So, at one end of the sidewalk, my car, keys in ignition, car running, air conditioner on high, and my purse/cell phone safely locked inside. At the other end of the sidewalk, the door to the cello teacher’s house with KC and his brand new teacher having their first hour lesson. In between, me and my seven or eight year old son, trying to figure out how much gasoline was in the tank and which was less scary, breaking a car window or ringing that scary man’s doorbell. (All these years later, I really don’t remember why I was so intimidated by that guy, but I was. As I recall, KC only had like two more lessons with him)

Anyway, there are so many ways a parent could handle a situation like that. What would you have done?

In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve some instructions and left them on their own for a little while. They didn’t follow those directions, so when God came back, there was a problem. What was God going to do? Adam and Eve knew they were in trouble and hid.

God could have essentially hit “control-alt-delete” and completely rebooted the whole world. He could have zapped the serpent, Eve, Adam or any combination of those three. God could have come storming into the Garden, raging and angry, telling them how they’d messed everything up. He could have shrugged and told everybody it was no big deal, accidents happen. Or, He could have done what He did -- take the consequences of their disobedience on Himself.

What difference would it have made to the Universe if God had just wiped out Adam, Eve and the serpent and started over? It seems like that would have been the least troublesome way to clean up the mess that they had made of God’s Creation.

If, as many folks believe, Creation took place over an extended length of time through the process of stronger species surviving while weaker ones died off, then it would have made perfect sense for God to just let things be and let the process continue. Humans really aren’t the strongest species.

A raging, terrifying God would certainly have scared Adam and Eve straight, don’t you think? Lots of people portray God that way anyway – ready to punish us whenever we step out of line.

So of all the ways that God could have handled the Fall, why did He choose the one He did? Why would He come looking for Adam and Eve when He already knew where they were? Why would He have asked them questions to which He already knew the answers? Why would He give us the freedom to reject everything He’s done for us?

“The death of Christ upon the cross made sure the destruction of him who has the power of death, who was the originator of sin. When Satan is destroyed, there will be none to tempt to evil; the atonement will never need to be repeated; and there will be no danger of another rebellion in the universe of God. That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness, will prevent sin in heaven. The significance of the death of Christ will be seen by saints and angels. Fallen men could not have a home in the paradise of God without the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Shall we not then exalt the cross of Christ? The angels ascribe honor and glory to Christ, for even they are not secure except by looking to the sufferings of the Son of God. …  Angelic perfection failed in heaven. Human perfection failed in Eden, the paradise of bliss. All who wish for security in earth or heaven must look to the Lamb of God. The plan of salvation, making manifest the justice and love of God, provides an eternal safeguard against defection in unfallen worlds, as well as among those who shall be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Our only hope is perfect trust in the blood of Him who can save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. The death of Christ on the cross of Calvary is our only hope in this world, and it will be our theme in the world to come. … The gift of God in his beloved Son was the expression of an incomprehensible love. It was the utmost that God could do to preserve the honor of his law, and still save the transgressor.  … There are many who will be lost, because they depend on legal religion, or mere repentance for sin. But repentance for sin alone cannot work the salvation of any soul. Man cannot be saved by his own works. Without Christ it is impossible for him to render perfect obedience to the law of God; and heaven can never be gained by an imperfect obedience; for this would place all heaven in jeopardy, and make possible a second rebellion. (E.G. White, Signs of the Times, December 30, 1889)

Our perfect God picked the perfect response to the first sin and it makes all the difference. He picked the only sure way to keep sin from happening ever again and guarantee us the opportunity to spend eternity with Him.

Did I pick the perfect response to Justin locking my keys inside my running car? Probably not, I remember it took a couple of hours for the guy to come unlock the car and cost more than I thought a minute and a half of work was worth. I remember the inside of the car was practically frosty by the time we got back in. And, it’s made a great story to tell and laugh about.

Disobedience makes a mess of God’s plans, but He has a perfect plan for cleaning it up. God is good.c

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