Contributed by Gordon Pike on Jun 27, 2021 (message contributor)
Summary: Christmas is a time to reflect upon the height and depth and breath of God’s love and the lengths that He will go to to show us His love. Christmas is a time to remember that God doesn’t demand that we love Him but gives us the choice to love Him.
In the beginning was … nothing? A “formless void” (Genesis 1:1)? Yet the Bible says a wind (the breath of God) swept over the surface of the "water" (Genesis 1:2) so there something there ... maybe everything there … the particles ... all the molecules, all of the “substance” of the universe … random … all mixed together. God begins to “call” out … to create … to organize the dark chaos. Like a divine potter, He molds and shapes the universe. First, He calls out light … which He shapes into night and day and then He creates the stars and heavenly bodies. Then He calls out water and shapes the land. And then He really begins to let His created juices flow … designing, creating, and filling His creation with a breath-taking diversity of living plants and animals.
God looks at His masterful creation and thinks about how wonderful it would be to share this Paradise with someone, so He creates human beings … Adam and Eve … to share it with Him. And for a while … we don’t know how long … it was very good.
What is “love” if you don’t have someone to share it with, amen? If I paint a beautiful painting, I can admire it but it’s so much nicer to share the beauty of that painting with someone else, amen? If I compose a magnificent poem or song, I can listen to it and enjoy it … but it’s so much nicer to have someone to share it with, am I right? God was lacking for nothing. He created an amazing, incredible universe. He could have sat back and admired His handiwork for eons … but He knew that love is best when you have someone to share it with, amen? Life is better when you have someone to share it with, so God created Eve so that Adam and Eve could enjoy God’s creation .. so that they could enjoy God’s beautiful Paradise with Him and with each other. And, for a while, it was good … it was very, very good.
Love not only requires something or someone to “love,” love, in order to be love, must be given freely. Love that is forced is not love, it is slavery and God did not create us to be His love slaves … and so He not only gave us the gift of life and the ability to love but He gave us the gift of free will. And it is here, in the Garden of Eden, that the story of Christmas really begins, my friends. In order to understand the heart and soul of Christmas … in order to understand the Incarnation … we need to understand the story of our broken relationship with God.
All of this started with a choice. God, who created the universe, knew what would happen if Adam and Eve sampled the fruit of a certain tree in the middle of His garden. “You may freely eat of every tree of the Garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in that day,” God warns Adam, “you shall die” (Genesis 2:16).
What was the choice? When the serpent tempted Eve, he told her that Adam and Eve’s eyes would be open and they would be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5). The choice, my brothers and sisters, was either to be dependent or independent from God and they chose independence … they chose to rely on themselves and not on God. They wanted to be free to make their own decisions and Satan knew the lure and the danger of free will … choosing to become not only his own master but master of all creation … judging God’s handiwork and claiming that he could do a better job than God and so he sought to usurp God … and he lured Adam and Eve into the same trap as the one that had brought about his downfall … encouraging them to think for themselves, to usurp God … not by taking over the universe but by taking over their own lives, their own hearts. And that is how “sin” … our separation from God began … when we no longer desired to be dependent on God but independent from God … to judge for ourselves what is good and what is evil … to have the freedom to say that men can become women or declare abortion to be good and even boast about it while declaring traditional Christian values as evil. We are very vividly seeing the fruits of free will gone absolutely wild today, aren’t we?
And, unlike Adam and Eve, we aren’t even trying to hide it anymore. When Adam and Eve heard God walking in the Garden at the time of the evening breeze, they hid among the trees. Take that image in for a moment. What a powerful, graphic portrayal of what sin does to us. God, who created this beautiful Paradise comes to share it with Adam and Eve. I can’t image that but isn’t that what we long for, all of us? To be with God, not only in the cool of the evening, but for all eternity? We had that. But Adam and Eve’s choice to “be like God” caused them to hide, to cover up their nakedness … not because they were afraid of what God would see … after all, He created them, knew every cell of their body, knew what they looked like physically naked … but they were ashamed of what they did. The serpent was right. They could see good and evil now and they saw their action, their disobedience for what it was … “sin” … a desire to be independent from God, to make their own decisions … and now they were going to have to bear the consequences of free will, of making their own decisions.