Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Garden Too Small

I've heard more than once in my lifetime the thought that eternity would be, in effect, a return to Eden--perfection of physical being in a perfect physical world, sans Satan, sin and death. There are a few problems with that idea, however. If Adam fell in Eden, what would keep us from doing the same in heaven? We like to blame our sinfulness on our nature, but Adam did not have that nature and he sinned. I know the Devil was in the mix, but he was only toying with what was there. The Devil only expedited things.

As weird as it might seem, I believe Jesus, like Adam, could have fallen while walking on earth. In emptying himself of his divine prerogatives and stepping into our world as one of us, he identified thoroughly with us (except of course, without innate sinfulness). His victory over sin and death would be illusionary, rather than worthy, if he did not actually have anything at risk and the deck was stacked. He truly was a second Adam, but with a whole lot more knowledge than the first. He very well could have fallen in that limited, fleshly nature. Thank God he did not!

The only effective difference I see between Jesus' experience in the flesh and Adam's before the Fall was the knowledge of what was in man. I know that Christ had divine character which could handle the image of God, but to say their respective success and failure occured merely because Jesus was God and Adam was not comes close to denying Jesus' truly human nature and experience. So Jesus, the Son of Man, understood what the cost of sin was for man through personal experience and observation whereas Adam did not. Jesus did not sin and Adam did. When we are like Jesus, rather than Adam, we will not sin either because we know too.

What then will keep us from sinning in eternity? Puppet strings? No, Jesus did not have them, the Father certainly doesn't, and when we see Jesus in "heaven" we will be like him. What turns us to willing cooperation and agreement with God in heaven is knowing absolutely the futility of going it on our own. Oh, we will have a Christlike affection for our Father, no sinful flesh to battle (although we will have flesh), and no Devil trying to deceive and distort things, but we will not be forced to be godly and walk in God's will. That would run counter to what God ultimately intends for us.

To achieve that our hearts and minds will have to work in tandem with God. They will have to be harmonious, even synchronous with his. All that we think will have to be what he thinks and all that we want will have to be what he wants. We'll have to know even as we are known. We will be one. There is no clue that Adam ever had this possibility in Eden, even if the Devil had not been in the picture (although that tree was there for a reason). So Eden never was our ultimate destination that Adam unfortunately screwed up, and Eden will not be what we regain for eternity. It was far too small a garden anyhow!