Yesterday we went apple picking as a family. It really could not have been a more perfect Autumn day. It was 60 degrees and partly cloudy, the clouds being those huge billowy types. When we got to the orchard the woman who worked there told us there were only three kinds of apples we could pick and that we would see the rows down the walkway. As we walked toward the picking trees our four-and-a-half-year-old daughter said, “Wow! There are so many apple trees! (pause) Mommy, why can’t we pick from all the trees?” Being the Bible animal that I now am, my uncalculated response was, “Those other trees aren’t ready yet. But look at all the apples on these trees. There are SO many for us to pick!”
In the counseling class that I just finished on Monday, we spent a lot of time studying the Bible (rightfully so since the class was called “Counseling and the Biblical Text”…). This class blew my mind on so many levels, but most of all it was the study of this amazing Book that changed me. David Lamb, my professor, has a love for the Bible that is (sadly) rare and invigorating. We deeply studied small sections of the Bible using a particular method. We were encouraged to print out each 5-to-15-verse passage on a plain sheet of paper, bring markers or colored pencils, and then we examined each passage in amazing depth, asking questions of the text, making observations, and looking for what the passage could teach us about God. (This is a study technique created and used by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. You can read about it and instructions on how to do it here. Give it a try some time.)
One week we studied Genesis 3:1-13, the story of the serpent tempting the first woman in the garden, which Christians generally view as the story of when people and the earth “fell” into a perpetually broken state. I noticed so many new things, but most importantly I noticed that the serpent could not force her to think a certain way, he could only ask questions that led her elsewhere in her thinking. She had a choice to make, and she listened to the wrong voice. She doubted the breath-taking abundance of God.
The text lays out the process this way:
- The serpent asks a tricky question.
- The woman misremembers & misstates God’s original message (kind of like a game of whisper down the lane).
- The serpent says, “That can’t be right…God just doesn’t want you to be like Him…” (even though Genesis 1:27 says that is precisely what God wanted, which is why He created man and woman in His own image).
- Then something big happens: she “sees” with different eyes (3:6), then “the eyes of both were opened” (3:7) in a new way.
Most people think the first command in the Bible is God saying, “Don’t eat from that one tree, ok?” But actually, that’s the third command in the Bible. The first two are (1) have a LOT of sex (Genesis 1:28), and (2) eat a LOT of fruit (Genesis 2:16). So the first two things God commands humans to do is what they do best: have sex and eat! And I see this as a really important insight into God’s abundance. Poignantly enough, the human ”fall” into brokenness came through a woman who was tempted by what she saw and ate. Which brings me back to the title of my post…
Back in the 1990’s there was a Burger King commercial that I always found so incredibly odd: the camera was zoomed in on the details of a juicy Big Mac, and in the background played the 1975 hit “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate. Whenever my mom and I saw the commercial we would walk around for days singing, “I believe in miracles. Where you from, you sexy cheeseburger…”
This commercial was pure genius. It appealed to the two things that God first commanded humans to do: have sex & eat. But just like the serpent, this commercial (among so many others) twisted the gift. God’s reason for making those the two primary commands was so that He could (1) multiply His image on earth (because it is so good), and (2) give evidence of this goodness with a sign of immeasurable abundance! (As shown with my multiple exclamation points, I get excited about this.)
Effective product-selling commercials are exactly the same as the serpent. They use a tarnished version of God’s good ideas and make us say, “Oooooo. That’s good. I need that.” The sad part is that there is not even a pause anymore because we are so good at falling for it.
What messages are we letting pervade our minds? What should we be thinking about instead? How should we be responding to these messages? Would we even be asking these questions had the first woman decided to ask them?