In the beginning… the Gospel
“In the beginning, God…” Thus, begins the sweeping and true drama we know as scripture. Within those sacred words ring the truth that God is there when all things we know find their beginning. He was there before the earth blinked into existence and he will be there when it is no more. He is present when the earth is without its present form. He creates light prior to the existence of the sun. He sets time into motion before the first timepiece enters the mind of man. He creates birds and fish and mammals of such beauty that no one could fathom. This new world showcases the beauty of God’s holiness. And in each moment of creation, God deems it as “good.”
And then comes man. In the midst of the sixth day, God makes the choice that we would come into existence. He endows man with his own image. The mystery of God’s own character or face or type placed into us is beyond our ability to dream. Then, rulership is handed over to this one man. It is not given to the lion or the gorilla. Not the behemoth nor the leviathan. No living creature is to rule except Adam. He alone is given the rights and privileges normally afforded to sovereignty.
Alongside of Adam, God places the woman – Eve. It is a perfect marriage in a perfect setting with a perfect view of the future. In my mind’s eye, I picture what it must have been to the first of our race. They experience a shameless life of love for one another. As companions to one another, their’s is a kind rulership over the creatures of earth. Joy, peace, and laughter are the totality of life together.
Into the Garden of Eden, God placed man and woman. And that would be enough. That God would design and create such a place of wonder and beauty filled with fascinating creatures and plant life is enough for man to know that his Creator cares for him. The anointing of Adam as steward of the earth assures him that the Lord has trusted him. Perfect provision given to Adam and Eve shows that God cares for them.
But that was not enough for God. In addition to all that is given to them, God adds one greater gift. It is the greatest gift of all. His own presence. He comes and walks with them during the cool of the day. God grants to them his friendship. It is within the realm of possibility that God would be too busy for these fragile creations: man and woman. After all, he has the entirety of heaven, all of the universe, and things beyond comprehension to rule. And yet, his love is so deep that he comes to the man and woman for a lazy afternoon stroll.
The story of creation seamlessly moves into the story of God’s intimate pursuit of relationship with man, woman, and their descendants. After sin enters the picture by the choice of Adam and Eve, we find ourselves marred from birth by our sin nature and relationally separated from God by our own choices to sin. Yet, we find ourselves under the missionary gaze of God. In a move that would seem to be contrary to all we deserve, God comes to find us. Both in the Garden of Eden and in our everyday living, God calls to us, “Where are you?” He does not ask because somehow he has lost track of us. Rather, he wants us to realize that we have become a far-from-God people. As written by C.S. Lewis, we need to realize that “Aslan is on the move” to rescue us from our sin and ourselves.
So, when salvation arrives at our doorstep, we make the choice. We find the Gospel illumined in such manner that its truth cannot be denied. The moment of choice arrives, our hearts burn with conviction from the Spirit, and we surrender to Christ. This is the turning point of eternity for every person. Redemption arrives. It is not the sad stereotype given in movies of the pagan becoming a zealot. Rather, it is the guilty being justified so fully that the very accusations of crimes are wiped away. God the Judge is Christ the Savior and the Spirit is the Comforter who crosses the great chasm in order to catch away the breath of His bride.