In today’s society, the church has seemed to become weak and content with cotton-candy sermonettes that focus on “my” dreams and goals. It is as though we are happy to use the Creator of the universe as a springboard to achieving our selfish whims and desires. We even choose our places of worship based on our level of comfort and customized entertainment experiences, don’t we?
I wholeheartedly agree with Solomon, the wisest man to have ever lived, when he said in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. The problems we are facing within Christianity are nothing new, even though the term “Christian” is only a couple thousand years old.
In fact, this problem even predates Solomon’s day, all the way back to the first man and woman who lived in a perfect environment in the Garden of Eden. Genesis, Chapter Three is where it all started when the serpent said to Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” So it began with the human propensity to question God. Many people ask, “Why would God say I can’t do this or that—doesn’t he want me to have fun?” Well, the human definition of fun and God’s definition of an abundant life rarely intersect because man tends toward evil and selfishness in his depravity.
The next thing that Eve did was make God sound like a big meanie when God told her “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” Let me let you in on a little secret: God never said “Don’t touch the tree.” This is how we tend to sound when we do not get our own way. We pout and make our situation seem more desperate than it actually is. I know that many times I have thrown temper tantrums and sounded like a spoiled brat—we all have, so let’s be honest.
So think about it this way: Imagine that there were 10,000 trees in the Garden of Eden. We do know that God said all the others were good for fruit and suitable to eat the fruit of them. What exactly did he say? Our answer is found in the previous chapter of Genesis (Genesis 2): “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” It reminds me of the clever social media presence “You had one job.” They were told that one kind of tree should be left alone and yet that is the very tree from which they chose to eat. They had one instruction and they blew it!
Sin is always a very serious issue, but after the serpent (Satan) had Eve’s attention and had cast doubt on God’s words, he then attempted to downplay the intensity of the situation. So he continued to string Eve along by saying, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The text goes on to tell us that when the woman saw that the tree was good for eating and able to make a person wise, not only did she eat, but she also gave to her husband and he ate, too. Why did he not correct her and be the leader he was supposed to be? Because Satan knew that if he could get the wife to eat, the husband would desire to please his woman; and who doesn’t want to be smarter?
What is my point in all of this?
It is simply to remind us that narcissism was not an attitude that began with the emergence of Greek mythology. Actually, it finds its origins in heaven when Lucifer was so in love with himself that he desired to be like the Most High God and ended up getting kicked out of heaven. Sadly, his selfishness has not waned, but has grown into something that attracts human beings all across the world. It is the very same attitude that Eve displayed as she was tempted to follow her flesh and, as we know from Scripture, caved into the temptation and dragged her husband down with her. Please understand this: your sin will never only affect you.
There is a selfish desire ingrained within each of us as a result of the fall of man in the Garden. The only remedy for the fall of man is the death of Jesus Christ. His shed blood is what reverses the curse. The First Adam messed up really badly, but the Second Adam brought redemption from sin and eternal life. The First Adam brought a curse, even death, through his disobedience (along with his wife), but the Second Adam brought hope and forgiveness through faith in him.
Throughout the course of human history, mankind has not improved nor proven himself to be capable of reversing the curse. In fact, his works only push him further away. But I am glad to say that there are arms that reach farther than he is able to run. Just as Adam and Eve found forgiveness from the Lord for their transgression, so can everyone who has ever taken a breath on this earth. We never read anywhere in the Word of God that Adam and Eve did community service to work off their punishment, but we do read over and over of how God intervened in time with eternity and he bridged the gap between himself and mankind with the cross.
The age-old problem is that mankind is inherently wicked based on his sin nature, but the cure is not found in a man earning favor with God; the cure is a person named Jesus Christ and his gift of grace. The only remedy for the selfishness of sinful man is the sacrifice of a perfect Savior. The news that people need to hear now is no different than it has ever been: a loving God wants to bring sinful man to himself.
John Mallonee is the Senior Pastor of Blessed Hope Bible Church in Liverpool, PA. Called to this ministry in 2012, he also networks with the American Pastors Network, and serves in a leadership role as a millennial pastor. John has worked on the board of the millennial pastor initiative alongside Statistician George Barna, Tim Barton, President of WallBuiders, Honorable Sam Rohrer (President of APN), and others. He has a Bachelor of Ministry (B. Min.), a Master of Theology (Th. M.), and a Doctor of Theology (Th. D.) from the College of the Open Bible and Theological Seminary, Greenville, SC. John is a published author and currently writes a daily online and print devotional. In addition to writing, he also produces a weekly radio spot, Weekend Devotion. John and his wife Rebekah have four children: Rachel, Hannah, Isaiah, and Sarah Beth. The family currently resides in Newport, PA and is actively involved in their community. You can follow John on Twitter at @soul_dr1982 or visit his website: https://www.johnmallonee.org/.