Cutting God Out
[The woman and man] heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and [they] hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. – Genesis 3:8 (NRSV)
In the cool of the day, Adonai walked the fields of the garden of pleasure and delight, and called out to the humans. And the humans hid themselves in fear and shame.
God called to them: “Who told you that you were naked?”
Not: “C’mere! I’m gonna kill you!” Not: “How dare you! Watch what I can do now!” Not: “You are rotten to the core! I’m done with you!” None of these was God’s response.
Instead, God declares what will happen to the humans, and notice: God distinguishes between the things God will do and the curses that will come. God says God will do two things: 1. God will put enmity between the humans, as if they were nipping at each other’s feet. (Imagine the debates to come.) 2. And God will introduce toil in childbirth. (The alert system of pain was born.)
There was a deep problem with what arose out of the first humans’ action. Yes. But it’s so important to name the correct wrong. They got some knowledge, but partial knowledge is dangerous.
And God knew that all along. And God warned them. Those curses didn’t come from God. They came from human behavior.
Having a glimpse of Wisdom is not the same as having all of it. All of us since the first humans have lived in this state of partial awareness.
And that’s how I understand God’s initial warning about the tree in the garden. God knew what would happen if they tried to eat from the tree on their own. But why make the tree if they can’t eat from it? Maybe because God wants to be included in the learning and growth.
We err when we attempt to cut God out.
God, forgive me for trying to do anything without you. Thank you for making this desire impossible.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.