The parable: Adam and Eve's rebellion distressed God. They ruined everything! God's "very good" creation; a sinless environment for human life; a human existence free of fear, shame, anxiety, and pain; the perfect marriage relationship; the ideal companionship--all irreparably ruined by their rebellion!

As human generations passed, God watched in horror as the human condition grew worse because people became increasingly evil. God watched and considered. His distress increased. He knew that He had to rescue people from the despair of evil.

God said, "I know what people need! They need 'true religion!' They need a world filled with church buildings! There people can affirm, defend, and argue 'true religion.' They can condemn the wicked 'out there.' They can condemn the faithless 'in here.' Everyone constantly can be reminded of what horrible failures people are. If people assemble in church buildings at least once a week for this experience, the world will be okay. Adam and Eve failed because they did not have 'true religion.' If there had been a church building where they discussed 'true religion' an hour or so each week, they would not have rebelled. My perfect creation would be intact if Eden had promoted 'true religion' in a church building!"

What is your reaction to the parable? Reactions likely run from bewilderment to anger. It deceptively misrepresents God's concern and intent. It terribly distorts God's solution. Perhaps most frightening is this: it represents a common Christian concept. Too many think that godliness is produced by going to church buildings and hearing discussions about 'true religion.'

Adam and Eve's problem centered in their behavior. Old Testament Israel's problems primarily centered in their behavior. That was the message of God's prophets. The Pharisees' problems centered primarily in their behavior. That is the message of Jesus. The early church experienced numerous problems because of their behavior. That is the message of the epistles.

In each generation, behavior problems exist for two basic reasons. First, people do not trust God. Second, people's decisions and interactions are governed by godless attitudes. As a result, faithless lives are guided by ungodly attitudes. The consequences: evil behavior curses their lives and assaults their relationships.

Christians must be (1) taught to trust God, (2) challenged to develop Christ-like attitudes, and (3) urged to devote themselves to godly behavior in all relationships. Only then do they oppose Satan. Anything less encourages Satan.

Read James 1:27 and note that it is behavior centered.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 27 June 1999

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