Back to the Garden

So, I am not really sure how evil got here. Oh, I know about the fallen angel, about the serpent, about the disobedience of our first parents and subsequent rebellion of humanity to God and how death and destruction has pervaded the world ever since. But concepts like original evil elude me.

What I do know is that since the coming of Christ we are making our way back to Eden not driven farther from it. There may be an allusion to this idea even back in Psalm One. I print it here from the MESSAGE paraphrase:


  • You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
  • bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.

This is from the Psalm that speaks about staying close to God and to God’s word. The word ‘Eden’ is not in the original translation but the idea remains that we who now place our confidence in Christ and obey his commands are really ‘like those trees planted by the rivers’ and later in Revelation will see the completion of that vision. Revelation 22:


The River of Life
1Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations…

Read how Paul puts it in 2Corinthians5 (NIV):

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

In one place in Ephesians 2:6 Paul writes that we are seated with Christ in the Kingdom of God, in Heaven. That’s our position and from that position we bear fruit for him.

The Resurrection of Christ is proof of the Eden to which are returning and wherever and whenever the presence of Christ breaks into our lives, the Kingdom is there, and Eden’s rivers run strong. Whenever evil is overcome by good, there is Eden. Where reconciliation takes place the fruit of Eden becomes a witness to the world.

I am afraid that America as a whole is not Eden, nor is it on the way to Eden as long as the nation maintains its level of violence against anyone. Recall how Jesus overcame evil. And maybe most people don’t really care about Eden but I believe that the church, where the church proclaims good and places its confidence in Christ, cannot be held back from

Eden and not even the gates of hell can stop the progress of the church especially where the church and Christians are so badly persecuted.And the hurting people of the world may be the first find Eden.

Eden’s guardian angels are letting God’s people back to paradise. Some of us can see it now in front of us. Some are yearning for the day but fear not says God for God is making all things new and restoring God’s creation. Let us pray, worship and work for the day when God’s grace will lead the way back.


God knows how we feel. Ever hear that and wonder just how God who is so ‘up there’ and seemingly far from us can somehow know or even sense what we are going through? I am not sure how other religions grasp any concept of divine empathy but let me share what I know about Jesus being the one who put it on the divine heart to know you and me so well. Besides God knowing how many hairs on our head or how much more we are worth than all the sparrows. There’s something going on through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

We know that Jesus was tempted, that he suffered, that he was obedient and that he ministered to hurting people. He wept at a friend’s funeral and sorrowed over Jerusalem for not accepting him. And how does all that translate to God?

Been reading a theologian. H.R. Mackintosh, a Scottish Theologian around 1900.

He suggests that since God and humanity are one in Jesus Christ (the incarnation) through the Word becoming flesh something wonderfully unique happens. Jesus through his experiences on this earth ‘are received into the eternal memory of the Godhead.’ Through the experience, the death and resurrection of Christ the human experiences are part of the Eternal memory. See, what Jesus went through, although ‘foreknown’ by God is made real in time and kept as part of the experiential memory of God, the Trinity. There is a person within the Trinity who has actually experienced pain, sorrow, death and resurrection. So within the Trinity there is an incredible awareness of what you and I go through because Jesus went through it all including being tempted sorely.

Mackintosh concludes this by writing, “The heart of man and the heart of God beat in the risen Lord.” (p. 371 of his book on the doctrine of the person of Christ)

So as we continue this Lenten time let us remember that God remembers, through Jesus, just what we are going through right now, in this moment that will be etched in the eternal memory forever. And so as the song suggests:

Have we trials and temptations?
  Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
  Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
  Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
  Take it to the Lord in prayer (WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS)



As we prepare for Easter let’s consider what the Resurrection of Jesus means to us today. Take these thoughts with you as you conclude the Lenten Season and prepare for Holy Week.

Jesus is vindicated through his rising from the dead. His words and deeds were proven true. Romans 1:4:  He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. (CEB)

The earliest writers of church history, some of them even eyewitnesses were not ashamed to announce with clarity what had taken place. It’s only modern ‘sophistication’ that shies away from history because we are just too darn smart for that kind of naiveté.

Thanks to the resurrection of Jesus his death was shown credible giving every evidence that what he said was true, that to die is to live both spiritually and bodily.

All despair is reversed by the resurrection or if Christ is not raised then we of all people on this earth are the most duped and pathetic people ever. (1Cor. 15)

In the resurrection of Christ history has turned a corner. God has kept his covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15) and history heads into the final stretch being carried through by the hope and new life of the Kingdom of God, which was first announced by Jesus at the beginning of his ministry. Perhaps it’s why we cry out on Easter Sunday, He is Risen Indeed. The resurrection of Jesus is the cosmic D-day when the evil powers have been doomed and now we follow the risen Christ till the final day.

It is the resurrection of Jesus that allows Paul to write that this daily life of ours is sustained by the same power that raised Jesus. Romans 8:11: If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you.

 Paul will go on to say that he wants to live his life as well as endure his sufferings through that same power (Philippians 3)

It is the resurrection of Jesus that allows him to stand before the disciples and say that ‘all power and authority in heaven and on earth’ had been given to him and thus could the disciples go out in that power to make disciples, knowing they were given that power by the resurrected Christ. (See Matthew 28)

And the as the church formed together the resurrection became such a cornerstone that Paul would write to the Romans that anyone who would confess Jesus as Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead would be saved. (Romans 10:9) What Paul is saying is that there is every reason to place our confidence in this Jesus as the one true God/Man who can ultimately save this world and our lives.

And finally for right now. The resurrection of the body of Jesus signifies not only his victory over death but the importance of the whole human project to God.

None of this is to judge any other religion but is rather to invite us all to be caught up in the confidence of this Messiah who came to invite all to share in the hope and the thrill of life. We have reason to be realistic and optimistic, thanks be to God.

I am indebted  for some of my thinking and writing to Thomas Oden in his work, Classic Christianity.





Romans 8:21  ‘that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.’ ESV

Here’s my take on what Paul is writing in these verses. Yes, creation is groaning. The world is groaning but one day it will experience the same freedom and new life that the children of God are experiencing today.
This is the reality of the Kingdom of God. The creation will take its cue from those who enter the Kingdom of God right now. Jesus said that the truth will set us free if we stay connected to him and to his word.(John 8)  It is the only way to be free of the shackles with which this world wants to imprison us. In John 16 Jesus tells his disciples that while in the world there will be tribulation we don’t have to be afraid because Jesus has overcome the world. Overcome in the sense that darkness and death do not have the final world. Fear is not the final word. The word of God in Jesus is the final word. The Kingdom of God is the final word. Resurrection is the final word. LIFE is the final word.

Jesus said to a hurting world that he had come to give life abundant (John 10) which means that we are fully embraced into the love of God by the words and works of Jesus.
We are free. Really. No matter what scene the cosmic powers of darkness may put before you eyes, God places the life and light of Jesus before us so that as we look into him we may experience the glory, the radiance of our God. And as Paul will later write, ‘if God is for us who can be against us.’ So, children of God, let’s set a good example to help free this creation from its bondage to decay.
That’s like a New Year’s resolution- if you are into that sort of thing. My life will not be darkened by the world but will rather be that light set on a hill, light that comes from the glory of God.