Feel free to skip this paragraph (it’s the same one from before; same old, same old for you, but for a first-time-blog-reader, it is probably helpful; plus, I get paid by the word). 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). Wait, what? I don’t get paid by the word? Who knew?!?
Søren Kierkegaard wrote: “When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, ‘It’s talking to me, and about me.’” Thankfully, when you read the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden, it is very easy to do this, because it is a story that speaks powerfully to us and most certainly about us. This script is about a conversation Eve had with Adam about a very important topic: “Do we really need God?” The answer is surely, ‘yes,’ when we talk about eternity, but many people struggle to answer in the affirmative when it comes to everyday life (and by ‘many people’ I mean us, or maybe better, you; and, okay, me). In this we are just like our first parents. We need God to take care of our eternity; we just don’t need him to care for our “now.” We (for the most part) can handle that. We all know the story of the fall and how God exiled Adam and Eve out of the Garden, but isn’t it more accurate to say that Adam and Eve (read ‘us’) first tried to remove God from the premises? And if that is true, isn’t the story of Adam and Eve also ‘our’ story. Søren was right: The story of Adam and Eve clearly has things to say to us, but that is only because it is absolutely talking about us. Here’s the big question: “Do you feel you really need or want God in your life?” Here’s a conversation between Eve and Adam on that very topic. I wonder how they answered it.
The Story of Adam and Eve (and most certainly, us)
Eve: Hey, Adam, how’s your 759th day in Paradise going?
Adam: Things are going well, Eve. No rain, no clouds, no humidity, and no snakes. Life is good. And while it is still early in the day, I’ve already named six animals. Eve, I would like to introduce you to Bob, Frank, Stella, Tobias, Sarah 1 and Sarah 2. Yep, day 759 is just like day 758 which was just like day 757 which is just like day 756.
Eve: I hear that. You know, Adam, I’ve been thinking. Life is good. We have friends. We have a nice home. We have great jobs. In fact, we have everything that we need. And while we work hard, we are not killing ourselves.
Adam: I hear you! I mean, I get up every day and go to work naming the animals; and you make our meals, do some farming, weed the garden, plan out our investments, make our social schedule, do the shopping, write the thank you notes, milk the cows, water the flowers, mow the lawn, decorate the house, fetch the water, homeschool the kids and do a little baking. And that’s just your mornings. You’re right, we work hard for this life of ours, but we’re definitely not killing ourselves.
Eve: Exactly. You work hard. I work hard. But do you know who doesn’t work very hard?
Adam: The monkeys? They don’t look like they are working at all!
Eve: No, not the monkeys. I am talking about God.
Adam: But he made everything. That has to count for something, right?
Eve: Sure, but what has he done lately? I mean, we do all the gardening; and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t eat. And if we want to learn something new, it doesn’t come to us miraculously. We have to study and learn it. If we want friends, we have to go out and make them. It seems to me that we do all the work around here and God does basically nothing.
Adam: Wow, I never thought about that, but I think you may be right. I know naming the animals is hard, hard work. And not once has God dropped in and asked to name a few. Nope, naming the animals is all on me.
Eve: And what about the rules around here? God makes the rules and enforces the rules, but I don’t recall him asking us what rules we wanted. Maybe not eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a good rule, but what about rules about where Mr. and Mrs. Cow can and cannot poop; and how about a rule about no late-night monkey parties and how about a rule that the crocodiles must always tell the truth. I hate those crocodile-tear bits they do when we ask them to do something.
Adam: And I am still a little confused about why we can’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I’m even confused about its name. Why aren’t there two trees? One of the knowledge of good and another one of the knowledge of evil? And do we even need a tree of the knowledge of good? Don’t we know what is good already? I think I do. That whole tree thing has always confused me.
Eve: I agree. And should eating from a tree be the whole foundation for our understanding of moral ethics? I would base our ethics on how we should interact with one another and not how we should interact with a tree.
Adam: Wow. That’s like, wow! You are soooooo smart. Maybe you should give names to all of the animals, and I should stay home.
Eve: You know, I’m kind of embarrassed to say this, but I’m not so sure I need God in my life.
Adam: Whoa, that’s heavy. No God? But that would look like . . . that would look like . . . that would look like . . . I can’t think of what that would look like.
Eve: It would look like every other day. What do you do now that involves God?
Adam: I name the animals.
Eve: Right. And do you see any evidence of God while you are doing that? Do you feel his presence when you walk through the garden? Do you hear his voice in the cool of the night?
Adam: No. I just name the animals. Oh, I am also very careful where I step.
Eve: Exactly. We don’t really need God. Oh, we are thankful that he created the world; but honestly, if he just left us alone and let us do our own thing, I think we would be fine. We need God for our birth and after death, but in between, we don’t really need him at all. We can manage life all on our own.
Adam: Whoa, slow this elephant train down. You make it sound like God is not good.
Eve: Is he? I mean he is not evil, but is he really good? If he was good, wouldn’t he show himself more and not be so hidden? And if he was good, wouldn’t he bless his people with all sorts of things they want? And if he was good, wouldn’t he give us all sorts of “at-a-boys” and “good-jobs” and “You really look good today,” instead of giving rules and warnings and moral imperatives. Is God really good? I used to think so; but now, I’m not so sure. Again, not evil, just not that incredibly good.
Adam: But I was raised in the church. I kind of feel that my responsibility as a human made in God’s likeness is to trust God and to enjoy him forever.
Eve: Trust him for what? You’re doing life great all on your own. In fact, the only thing I think I’m trusting God to do is not to bring bad things into my life. And honestly, I’m not sure I can trust him to do that. Sometimes, I think he brings bad things into our lives just to see how we will respond. Frankly, if God existed or didn’t exist, I think my life would look pretty much the same.
Adam: I hear you, sister! I mean, I hear you, wife.
Eve: In fact, if I was totally honest, I think I trust myself to chart a course for my life than I do God. After all, I know what I want, and I know what is best for me and the people I love. And God, he’s kind of mysterious and “totally other” and way up there somewhere. We’re here. Shouldn’t we get to say what’s best for us?
Adam: Can we do that?
Eve: I don’t know why not? What’s the worst that can happen? No, I’ve pretty much made up my mind. I don’t want God to be God of my life anymore. I want to be God.
Adam: Me, too! I want to be God. Where do we go to vote on this?
Eve: I think we just did. Here, have some apple pie.
© 2023, “Voting in the Garden,” Dane Lewis, River’s Edge Community Church