Summary: Growing up people need growing up grace.
Text: Genesis 2:15-17 and 3:1-7
Thesis: Growing-up people need growing-up grace.
We generally associate age with growing up. Age is also a period of human life, measured by years from birth, usually marked by a certain stage or degree of mental or physical development. Aging stages may be described as:
You believe in Santa Claus;
You don't believe in Santa Claus;
You are Santa Claus;
You look like Santa Claus
However, when we think sociologically we mark the stages of life a bit more technically:
Infant 0-12 months; Toddler 1-3 years; Play-Age 4-5; Primary 6-12 (includes preadolescence or pre-teens 10-12); Adolescence (Teenagers) 13-19; Young Adult 20-39; Middle Adult 40-59; and Advanced Adult 60+. (Within this group are descriptive terms like: Octogenarians, Nonagenerians, Centenarians. [And] Super-Centenarians if you make it beyond 110 years of age.
When you hear stuff like this you are supposed to say: “Well, you are only as old as you feel.” Or “You're only young once, but you can be immature forever.”
This morning we are reflecting on our text, which is generally referred to as the story of “The Fall” or ”Paradise Lost.” We begin with the Eden, an idyllic paradise for humankind to live. Then temptation invaded that idyllic place and humankind discovered sin. And after that, human kind experienced life outside Eden.
This morning, as we reflect on the text, I would like to reflect on what happened to Adam and Eve (and to us) as stages we experience in growing up human and how at each stage we experience the grace of God in unique ways.
The first stage Adam and Eve experienced was what I think of as:
I. The Age of Innocence, Genesis 2:15-17
The Lord God placed man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden – except the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you will surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17
I think of The Age of Innocence as a time in life when we experience God’s grace but we are not necessarily aware of it. God is at work in our lives but it is a prevenient grace that goes before us. That is why we speak of God’s prevenient grace at the time of a child’s baptism or dedication. That grace is an anticipatory grace that we believe accompanies a child as God works in that life to bring him or her to faith.
When God had completed creating the heavens and the earth, before it had ever rained, before there were any people to cultivate the soil, springs of water came up from the ground and watered the earth. It says God then created man and breathed into him the breath of life so that he became a living person. God then created a very special place, a garden in Eden, to the east, and there God placed the man he had made. In that garden God made all sorts of trees to grow up from the ground, beautiful trees that produced delicious fruit. And in the middle of the garden God place the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And a river flowed from the land of Eden, watering the garden.
And the Lord God placed the man in the Garden to tend and watch over it.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. So God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky… and then God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep and while the man slept God took out one of the man’s ribs and formed a woman and brought her to the man.
And the man said, “Hubba! Hubba!”
Actually the man said, “This is bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh…” Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. The Garden of Eden. Paradise. A man and a woman. Naked. No shame. Innocent!
In 1965 CBS executive producers tried to kill Charles Shultz’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” It was too slow and Schultz was told, “You can’t read from the Bible on network television.”
However that first year, 50% of the nation’s viewers watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” It went on to win an Emmy and a Peabody award. It was and continues to be a huge corporate moneymaker. During its 40th annual broadcast in 2005 it won its timeslot with 15.4 millions views that included every demographic age.
Charles Schultz’s widow said, “[Charles always] said there would always be a market for innocence.” (PreachingToday.com)