The story of The Fall helps set the stage for the rest of Scripture. Many ask whether it is historically true or simply an allegorical story meant to convey a truth? Honestly, I don’t think that is a very important question. It’s a significant story either way; a story that is packed with imagery to draw from and lessons to be learned. One of those lessons involves a character called “The Serpent”.
The Serpent manages to convince Eve to eat of the only tree that God said to stay away from. Even touching its fruit would result in death. This story often gets equated to a toddler who is told she can play with anything in the house…except the one thing she ultimately ends up playing with. It is said to be wired into human nature to rebel in this way. I have come to believe that the Serpent told a very clever and subtle lie. This lie was incredibly effective in this story and I believe it is still being told, even today. The lie: “You are not complete. And what you are needing can only be found ‘out there’“.
Genesis 1:27 tells us that God created humanity in His Image. Being made in God’s Divine Image, humanity was complete. They had the freedom to rest in this profound truth, but instead they were convinced that the Image they bore wasn’t enough. They began searching for something that didn’t exist; a search that all too many of us continue to this day. It seems this story still has much to teach us.
We bear the very same Divine Image said to reside in Adam and Eve. Few would refute this statement, and yet most of us still act as if something is missing. We believe that we have to look elsewhere in order to find our own fulfillment. The truth is that God is already here. God is in this world. God is in this room. God is within me. God is closer to me than I am to myself. I can’t see my own soul without seeing God and I can’t see God without seeing my own soul.
This incredible truth invites us to the same freedom that was offered to Adam and Eve; the freedom to rest knowing that we are made complete through the one whose Image we bear. So, why continue searching “out there” for that mysterious thing that will complete us? This pursuit of external completion will always lead to competition, hatred and even violence. If I am to be made complete by my theology, then it can only complete me if it is found to be more “right” than anyone else’s. If I am to be made complete through power that I have gained, then I am only completed if my power is greater than that of my enemy. If I see my own success as symbolic of my completeness, then a threat to that success is also a threat to my very existence. I believe this is why Paul says that we are redeemed through being “In Christ” rather than through obedience to the Law. We aren’t talking about fruit anymore, but the lie is the same; “You are not complete. And what you are needing can only be found ‘out there’“.
The Still Small Voice continues beckoning us to rest. Stop trying to complete yourself. You can’t. God’s Image lies at the core of who you are. Despite what the Serpent might say, that is enough.