In pop culture today it would seem that sin is anything that's very fun and everything that repressive prudes and intolerant bigots are against. Seriously believing in purity is outdated, and sin is very, very sexy.
Yet if we stop and take stock of the fact that we're using a kaleidoscope as a microscope, we'll stop seeing a distorted version of a small part of the picture.
In the Garden of Eden, Baby
If we look past the Desperate Housewives with their apples, and look to the account of the fall, we'll see that the first sin was not the kind of seduction we thought it was. It was the Satan serpent planting a seed of doubt in Eve's mind. Instead of hinting at sexual liberation, it was a suggestion to look elsewhere for a king. We thought it would be us. Satan had other plans. The actual effect of our rebellion over a piece of fruit was that we were conquered by Satan.
In the Flower Shop
In the film Little Shop of Horrors, Seymour is the reluctant servant of a carnivorous plant, the Audrey II. In the musical version at least, he is enticed, tricked and trapped into feeding people to the plant. However it is really his desires, fuelled by emotions, that he is captive to. He is jealous, bitter, and fearful.
The thing is, Satan knew when he planted his seed of doubt that it would be a pioneer plant for a vibrant jungle of desires. We don't keep this garden. This garden keeps us.
Although we talk big talk of freedom, what we do is completely determined by our desires. We can't say no, even if a small part of us wants to.
A Strange and Bitter Crop
So our hunt for a king other than God continues. And our hunt produces some rather strange fruit. Our lovely patch of wealth that was said to produce security has produced stress when it withered. Our image, carefully cultivated to gain the approval of others, needs constant watering. Anxiety runs rampant, and the taproot runs deep.
The Garden of Gethsemane
How does God feel about all of this? Where is He in this picture? Does He care? Or is He aloof, abandoning us to reap our rewards? Or worse yet, does He revel in the chaos? Is He competent? Can He do anything or is the mess too big?
Actually, He's here in the garden with us. He's come to restore us to true humanity at great cost to Himself. He has his doubts and fears about the horrible death sentence he's about to endure. He's been betrayed by close friends, but Jesus ultimately trusts the Father. He has conquered temptation and rebellion, and will do to His dying breath.
Come with me to another account of a man and a woman in the garden. The man is the risen Jesus, the woman is a confused, grieving Mary. Although, like her, we weren't expecting this answer and still don't quite get it. He's here. Jesus. Alive. Victorious over the power of death, the ultimate fruit of sin. He offers abundant life to all who would trust Him, and Him alone, as the one totally capable, all powerful, and very, very, good God.
In the final analysis, sin is not some arbitrary bunch of no-nos that someone made to stop the fun.
Sin is at its heart a total upheaval of God's good creation, perverting what it means to be human.
It's always promising the world, but never delivering anything lasting. But we have a God who is willing and able to deliver us from temptation and death.
Is there anything, anywhere, more powerful than Him?
He is totally in charge and totally fearsome.
Is there anything, anyone, better than Him?
He is totally with us and totally for us.
And that's peachy.
Matthew Joils was created by God and he is In Christ. He is studying toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Filmmaking at the University of Canterbury. He is involved in the Christian Union on Campus. Sometimes he earns money in the hospitality industry; sometimes he does theatre stuff, bakes and knits.
Matthew Joils' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/matthew-joils.html