The storyline of Scripture opens with a complete, whole, and as-it-was-intended creation. Genesis 1-2 portrays humanity as the climactic final creation. Created to inhabit, enjoy, and fill the earth, they are also and most importantly created in the image of God. With the capacity for meaningful relationship with God and with each other, the stage is set for them to be the beloved creatures God intended them to be.
But as the story moves along, they quickly turn from submitting to their creator to establishing their own independence from him. They believe the lie that God is not concerned for their well-being. Believing the lie hat God’s word cannot be trusted, they set out to rule themselves. They deny allegiance to God’s rule over their lives and in its place substitute what Gary Holloway and Earl Lavender term the ‘kingdom of self-rule.’ Being like God, being able to live by a story of your own making, is appealing to the humans in the garden and it remains appealing for us today just as it appealed to the generations before us.
What begins in the garden, sadly, doesn’t remain in the garden. Genesis 3-11 recounts time and again how in various ways humanity rejects the way of life and holiness and godliness for death, sin and alienation. And as human history has played itself out, even until this day, we yet see how too often we pursue what Gary and Earl call the “forbidden fruit of self-governance. We turn, “they go on to say, “from the offer of life directed by our Creator and set out on our own to attempt to live counter to God’s purposes.”
What does this have to do with authentic Biblical spirituality? Well, in Genesis 1-2we see how things were intended to be. And from Genesis 3 onward we see how too often things are. Perhaps as we pursue the Biblical story a bit further we will begin to see how it will lead us toward the authentic spirituality we long for. What we will see, beginning in Genesis 12, is that there is a way yet for people to enjoy covenant relationship with their Creator. It begins as God refuses to give up on his beloved creation. He pursues them, and us, in gracious and loving and steadfast ways. What we will find as we continue in the Biblical narrative account after account of the many ways in which God worked to embrace again his creatures. We will also see in those ancient texts the invitation God offers to once again embrace him and his way. God’s invites them, and us, to return to his love, to embrace it in faith, and then live it out on the stages of our lives.