Every once in a while, to kick off a discussion at our youth group (aka, the Edge), we have a script. They are not necessarily designed to give answers. Instead, they are meant to make people think or to think differently about things. We want people to look at things differently, to see things in a different light and to feel the story (and not just “think the story” – or worse, “I already know the story). Yes, it is also entertaining (at least, I hope it is entertaining); and yes, it is a conversation starter and not the end of a conversation. So, here’s the deal: I’m happy to share these scripts, but you will have to provide your own conversations because I am only giving you one half of the package (and I hope the best is yet to come).
This first script takes place in the Garden of Eden. It’s a conversation between Eve and a visitor, a visiting snake to be exact. Everyone knows that Eve was deceived, but everyone forgets that the same “garden lies” that deceived Eve are still deceiving us today. Here’s the big question: “Which ‘garden lies’ reach down into your soul?”
Eve: Hi! I’m Eve. Welcome to paradise. We don’t have a lot of guests, so this is a pretty special occasion. And most of the guests that we have had, aren’t serpents. So, this is a big day.
The Serpent: Well, thank you, Eve! I feel very welcomed. And it is an honor to be here in your garden estate. Wow, it looks beautiful. You know, if you wanted to put it on the market, you could make millions. I mean the views alone are spectacular. Trust me, if you sold this place right now, you could get top, top dollar.
Eve: Sell? Oh, no. We are not interested in selling. We love it here! We couldn’t be happier! This place is the best.
The Serpent: Is it? See, I’ve heard that while you own the garden itself that you pay ground rent, meaning someone else actually owns the land.
Eve: Well, that’s true. God actually owns the land, but he has given us the garden and has never ever even once hinted that he would ever sell the ground out from underneath us. He loves us. He wouldn’t ever want to see us leave.
The Serpent: Really? Did God really say that in words on paper and notarized by an attorney?
Eve: He didn’t need to write it down. God doesn’t lie. We can trust him. He would never sell the land or kick us out of the garden. He loves us. He would never do that to us.
The Serpent: Oh, I know that. He would never do anything to harm you. . . .
Eve: What? You paused there. There’s a but coming. I can tell.
The Serpent: Well, I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, and it’s probably not even worth mentioning. You’re right. You’re absolutely right, you can trust God. . . .
Eve: BUT. . . .
The Serpent: Can you trust yourselves?
Eve: What do you mean? Of course, we can trust ourselves.
The Serpent: See, I was just wondering, what if you did something that really ticked God off. What if you did something that he felt was just plain wrong? Would he still want you living on his land in his garden? I’m just not so sure.
Eve: Well, I must admit, I never thought of that. But what are the odds of that happening? “Slim to none,” I would say! Nope, we can trust God, and God can trust us. Everything is fine.
The Serpent: Oh, I’m sure. We’re just talking. We’re certainly not building a road to hell. That would be crazy. We’re just having a little philosophical chat.
Eve: And what could we possibly do that God would find so offensive that he would feel compelled to evict us? I can’t think of a thing!
The Serpent: I fully agree. And we’ve talked about it back in headquarters, me and the boys in the sales department. And we’ve all concluded that humans are good.
Eve: Darn toootin’! We are good. We are very good. Not quite as good as God, but we are good.
The Serpent: Well, that was what one of the boys in the backroom said: “They’re good, but they are not quite good enough.” I mean, there is always room for growth, right.
Eve: Sure. Yes. We could be better. I’m sure we could be better.
The Serpent: And that’s the problem. See, I am not so sure you are “good enough.” Do you FEEL good enough.
Eve: Well, no. Now, that you mention it. I never feel good enough. I always feel like I’m not smart enough or not beautiful enough or funny enough or committed enough and even not loving enough. And I’m definitely not wise enough. Now that you mention it, I feel like I never measure up. I’m good, but I’m not good enough. And in this perfect world, not good enough is half a step away from being a total failure.
The Serpent: I don’t believe any of that. Where did you even get those ideas? Did Adam tell you that you weren’t good enough?
The Serpent: Did the animals tell you that you weren’t good enough?
The Serpent: Well, who told you, then, that you weren’t good enough. Did you tell yourself that?
Eve: Of course not! It makes me angry just to think that I am not good enough. How dare they think that I am not good enough. Who do they think they are?
The Serpent: Who is the “they” in that sentence?
Eve: I don’t know. It’s them.
The Serpent: You really mean, it’s him, don’t you?
Eve: I guess so. But God didn’t come right out and tell me I was not good enough. It’s just when I look at God and look at me, I know I don’t measure up.
The Serpent: And how does it make you feel to know that you are not good enough or smart enough or beautiful enough or even tall enough?
Eve: I hate it.
The Serpent: Yeah, I can see that. And I can’t blame you. I would feel the same way. I hate when God’s love is conditional.
Eve: What? What did you say?
The Serpent: I said, I hate it when God’s love is conditional.
Eve: What do you mean?
The Serpent: Well, it just seems to me that God talks about love a lot and is always saying how much he loves us, but there is always a condition behind it. God promises to love me IF. . . .
Eve: “IF” what?
The Serpent: If I obey. If I do the right things. If I don’t do certain things. If I don’t think bad thoughts. If I praise him and worship him and give thanks to him. Yeah, it is pretty hard to go through life with this knowledge that God only loves me because. . . .
Eve: I do all the things he wants me to do and don’t do any of the things he doesn’t want me to do.
The Serpent: And if we do those things that he doesn’t want us to do, then my guess is that he wouldn’t love us anymore. He might even evict you from the garden. But that’s what happens when God’s love is conditioned on our response. Now, please know, I am only saying these things because I love you and do not want to see you get cheated out of anything. You and Adam are the best humans I’ve ever met! I love you guys just the way you are.
Eve: But God doesn’t. We are never good enough for him, and his love for us is only conditioned on us doing everything he wants us to do and agreeing with everything he says.
The Serpent: Hey, that’s a beautiful apple tree over there.
Eve: God doesn’t think so. He says it is evil.
The Serpent: Wow! It doesn’t look evil to me. Does it to you?
Eve: No. It looks great. And those apples look delicious.
The Serpent: Shhhh. Not so loud. You don’t want God to hear that. You need to keep those ideas locked up tight inside because you know if God saw the real you, he wouldn’t like you at all.
Eve: What? What do you mean?
The Serpent: Well, I’m just saying that if you let God see what you were truly thinking and feeling and what truly motivated you, he would be so angry with you. So, it’s best to hide those things and not let anyone you can’t trust (which is pretty much everybody) see the real you. You know, let them see only what they want to see. Be that person, and they will love you. Be someone else—be your true self—and they won’t.
Eve: Hide my true self and be careful to project back to others the person they want me to be?
The Serpent: Exactly. It’s the only way to guarantee that you will be loved. Because if people saw the real you, they wouldn’t love you at all. In fact, they would probably turn and run away from you because there is some really ugly stuff in there, am I right?
Eve: Well, I guess.
The Serpent: I’m just saying that’s how I survived my teen years. I knew what my parents wanted, and so when I was with them or when they were watching I was an angel. But when they weren’t watching and when I was with my friends, I guess you can say, I was a little devil. But that is who my friends wanted me to be—expected me to be—and so I went with it because I wanted to be loved. You want to be loved, don’t you?
Eve: More than anything else in the world.
The Serpent: I thought so. So, here’s my advice: Don’t let people see the real you, because if they saw the real you, they wouldn’t love you. Be you—but only a safe version of you. And really, if people saw all the things in your heart—the jealousy, the greed, the lust, the manipulation—they wouldn’t like you at all. Don’t show your true self to anyone. Keep it all locked up safe and secure inside. Say it with me so you don’t forget. . . .
Eve: “If people saw the real me, they wouldn’t love me.”
The Serpent: So, I’m telling you, you ought to think about selling the place now while the market is good, because if you got evicted, you’re going to be left holding the bag. You’re going to end up with nothing but memories. BUT if you trust yourselves not to screw things up, then don’t worry about. You are good enough. God will always love you—that’s not conditional. Just keep those dark secrets well hidden inside, because if people see the monsters inside you, they will not love you at all. So, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Hey, I’ve kept you way too long. I bet I cut into dinner prep time.
Eve: Oh, yeah, I haven’t even thought about what we should eat tonight.
The Serpent: It may just be me, but I tell you, those apples sure look good! But what do I know. You’ve got to make that call.
(© “Garden Lies” by Dane Lewis, River’s Edge Community Church, 2023)