(This is a reaction to the February 6 bible study lesson at http://ssnet.org/lessons/13a/less06.html.)
When Adam and Eve sinned, it’s interesting that God just asks them questions at first. He doesn’t reprimand or condemn or call them names or act hurt. He asks questions. And then when He finally makes a declarative statement, it is a condemnation of Satan, not of Adam and Eve. It’s like in the last chapter of the book The Great Controversy where E.G. White states that in the final judgement Satan will be “the object of universal abhorrence.” Everyone will know that Satan started all this pain.
After that declaration against Satan in the Garden of Eden, God gave the first gospel promise (Genesis 3:15); He promises to put enmity between us and the serpent, or as Jack Blanco puts it in his Clear Word Bible paraphrase: “I will put a hatred of sin in the heart of the woman and her descendants, and this hatred of sin will find its ultimate expression in One of her offspring.”
Notice that God doesn’t act hurt, doesn’t lash out, doesn’t do any of the things a human would do. He tells them instead that they will be saved in the future and then honestly tells them the consequences of their actions. Even though lies led them into their actions, which leaves Satan with the ultimate condemnation, humans still have to face the consequences of their own actions.
C.S. Lewis wrote in chapter 11 of his book Perelandra: “Thus, and not otherwise, the world was made. Either something or nothing must depend on individual choices. And if something, who could set bounds to it? A stone may determine the course of a river.” In other words, life is made by people taking actions that have real consequences.
God in His power could have rewound time and avoided terrible pain and grief. But He has the strength of character to maintain a stable environment for us in which our choices matter. Imagine what a miserable sense of helplessness we would have if our actions didn’t matter.
It seems like God has no ego, which is the thing that demands that I am more important and privileged than anyone else. Probably every fight I’ve ever had with my wife was because of one of us having a wounded ego. It would be a joy to be more like God. He came to Earth knowing He was going to be treated like garbage. But He did the loving thing without ego.
Imagine if you were like that: you would just enjoy every good thing, whether it’s a good thing in you or in someone else, appreciating that it’s coming from God, and you would hate every bad thing and desire to help any people who are hurt by bad things. And that’s how God is. He didn’t act jealous or angry with Adam and Eve. He told them about salvation as soon as possible. He hated sin but loved them and worked to help them. That’s an attitude to strive for with God’s help.
God also didn’t criticize Adam and Eve. According to renowned psychologist Dr. William Glasser, using criticism in relationships is the top habit that is likely to push people further apart. And of course God wanted to draw Adam and Eve into a saving relationship with Him so that they could receive His grace. Paul states in Acts 17:27 that God calls to us so that we might reach out to Him because we need Him. He doesn’t need us, but He knows that we need Him. So, without any ego, He does unselfish things in order to entice us to reach out to Him so that we can be saved. That’s unconditional love.
(Praise Team Leader at New Horizons SDA Church in Republic, MO)