Friday, April 10, 2015

The Redeemed

Something beautiful happens in Genesis 3, and if you're not paying attention, it's easy to miss. To get a little perspective, you have to go back to Genesis 2, where Adam is given the responsibility of naming all of the animals. Whatever the man called each creature became its name. Whatever he called them. Remember that.

Ok, now skip ahead to Genesis 3.

Here we have the account known as "the Fall." This is it. This is the curse. This is where man and woman ruin it for the rest of us by eating the forbidden fruit. The curse is very formal, even set apart in the style of its writing from the rest of this chapter. The snake will be cursed and crawl on his belly; the woman will have pain in labor and be ruled by her husband; the man will work hard to receive little from the land and will return to dust when his time is over. And right after this curse, immediately following the pain and fruitlessness (get the contrast? fruitless labor stems from a fruit-full belly), Adam does something beautiful:

Adam named his wife Eve [Life] because she became the mother of every living person.

Prior to all this, and we even see this in Adam's defense to God, he has known this second human only as the "woman." The woman gave me the fruit, and I ate it. The woman.... She's the only creature he has not yet named. In the curse just pronounced on her, God has subjected her to him and now, perhaps, he feels like he has the authority to name her. 

And most of us today know what the woman did. We blame her for everything. Dangit, woman! we exclaim when life isn't going our way. It's all a product of the Fall, the forever curse, the broken humanity we're all stuck with because the woman couldn't tell the snake to shut up and go pick berries off some convenient little bush. 

But Adam looks at the woman, he looks at the fallen woman, the newly accursed woman...and he names her Life. God has just cursed the most esteemed of His creation. He has condemned the man to hard labor and the woman to painful labor (see? both labor), but Adam looks at the woman and realizes...she will have pains in childbirth. She's going to have a child! She's going to be a mother! There are going to be kids! And he names her Life.

We could learn a lot from Adam.

Because I think we spend a lot of time looking at one another, or even looking in the mirror, and seeing all the broken things. We look at each other, or at ourselves, and see the curse. We see all the ways that we, as persons, have messed up. The mistakes we've made. The problems we've created that it feels like we're never going to get out. And we hold each other, and ourselves, to them. 

We look at how persons got into the situations they're in now, all the messed-up things they've done to wreck their own lives, and it's easy to hold them accountable to that. It's easy to think that's all they are, that's all they will ever be. It's easy to label someone by their brokenness, to call them by a fallen name. 

But Adam...Adam has given his woman a redeemed name. Yes, she's cursed. Yes, she just ruined everything. But he looks at her and sees the incredible role she has to play in God's creation. She's going to be the mother of every living human. She's going to be a part of God's plan. Whatever else she's done, she is also doing this thing, and he calls her by it. She is Life.

I wonder what would happen if we took more time to see the redeemed among us. I wonder what would happen if we started calling each other by the redeemed name, by the role we have to play in God's incredible creation, by the part we have in God's plan. What if you looked at someone who seems so easy to label and you looked beyond all that and saw something bigger in them? What if you gave them the hope that comes with the name of the redeemed? What if, instead of calling them accursed, you called them Life?

What if?

What if someone dared call you redeemed? 

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