What Are You Offering?

Genesis four says that God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s. And much has been made about the fact that no real reason seems to be given for this rejection. Abel attended flocks while Cain worked the soil. Some have tried to read into this a reason for God’s preference. Among those that I have read: Abel offered the first portions and Cain did not give his best. God clearly wants an animal sacrifice. God is not capricious or random, he makes his ways known when we are to obey. We are not told any stipulations God placed on the offering, so that conclusion seems uncalled for. God prefers shepherds to farmers. The idea that God has the ability to choose whom he wants to choose. Using this situation as a basis for election seems without basis. We long so much for cause and effect. If I do this one thing or this series of steps, then God will accept us. This is simply a way to manipulate God and get what we want. God offers his love and grace before any of us obey. The same is true with Cain and Abel. Although expelled from the garden, they were living under God‘s grace. Maybe the truth is that we’re not told what is wrong with the offering because there wasn’t anything wrong with it. Both of the offering brought by Abel and Cain are described by the same word (minha) with no apparent difference. The key to this issue of the offering is found in Cain’s response. “Why are you angry?” God asks Cain. God’s disapproval becomes a...

We Are Dust

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return. – Genesis 3:19 Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. The occasion is marked, literally, with ashes on the forehead and the words “you are dust, and to dust you will return.” It is the very same reminder that God gave to the man and the woman in the garden after their disobedience. They chose to break communion with their Creator and instead followed the allure of being like God. But they weren’t like God, a fact they were deceived into forgetting; the man and woman were a part of the creation. Above every other created thing, yet less than God. So, rather than the deathless existence for which they were intended, God made their life a fight against the ground that would provide their food, a reminder of the dust to which they would now return. Just like the first man and woman, we break the communion with God that the death and resurrection of Christ enables, and attempt to pursue wholeness apart from our Creator. We get deceived that this is possible, and attempt to grasp onto a semblance of value the identity we create provides. We do what is right in our own eyes. Selfishly. Rebelliously. The ashes on our foreheads today remind us that it is not our eyes that determine what is right. We are not God. It is appointed that all men and women will return to dust. As much...

Which Came First?

  Adam and Eve were placed in the garden created for them, each of the crafted to live in communion with their Creator. From that relationship, the man and the woman would get their sense of self – their purpose and value in the world. Connection with God was the foundation of their identity. In the garden there was rest and no shame. In the punishment that was dealt to the man and woman, God mentions toil, pain, and longing. Rest was gone and shame continually made its presence felt. So, what was the sin that brought on this consequence from the Creator? Often when we talk about this story, we say that the sin was that they partook in the fruit that was forbidden. But, decisions and behavior are a symptom of something more fundamental. What came first? As you read the narrative in Genesis chapter 2, you notice that the tempter first got Eve to break her communion with God. She questioned his goodness, wondered if He was withholding, and became distrustful. Being tempted is not a sin, but taking your eyes off of God is. In the absence of relational connection with God, Eve looked upon the fruit, and did what was right in her own eyes. She needed to satisfy her desire for wholeness apart from God – a false sense of self, and she looked to the fruit that was forbidden to provide it. Her sin, and the sin of her husband, was that they turned away from God. As evidence, the first question the Creator asked in his next appearance was “Where are you?” Ours is the same...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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