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The Way We Are

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Dive (6-8)Year 1Unit 1 (What Do I Do When Things Fall Apart?)Session 4

The Way We Are

No part of my life is free from sin.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Be reminded of who God is: that God is good and that God isn't to blame for all that goes wrong in the world.
  • Acknowledge who we are: sinners who disobey God but who are loved by God, made in God's image, and forgiven by God.
  • See how sin touches every part of our lives, including things we do without even thinking.
Memory Challenge

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

At some time or another you may have been forced into the game of "Why" with a child or teenager. It begins with a question, but each answer is followed by another question: "Why?" It goes on and on until you finally say, "Because that's the way it is."

That's something like the question in today's lesson: "Why don't you do what God wants?" That "why" echoes all the way back through history to the primal story of the Fall in Genesis 3. In answering that question the Bible doesn't so much give us an explanation but a powerful, mysterious, and probing story.

The first and most important point the story makes is that sin is not God's fault. People tend to blame God for everything that goes wrong in the world, for all human suffering, for all natural disasters. The story tells us that God placed Adam and Eve into a situation in which their love and obedience was put to the test. Our first impulse may be to think that's not fair, but can we really be human and free if there is no choice involved?

Who is to blame then? Everyone else in the story, it seems. The serpent turned God's commandment into temptation and lied about God's motives. Eve was attracted to the fruit of the tree and wanted to be like God. Adam blindly followed her example and shared her weakness. Everyone in the story has some blame, but no one has the entire blame.

That also means that all the sin and evil in the world isn't any one person's fault. That's far too heavy a load. The responsibility for sin rests on the whole human race. All the children of Adam and Eve---all of us---are responsible. Every human being shares in that responsibility. As an early American ditty says, "in Adam's fall, we sin all."

Every human being that's ever born carries this infection of the soul---a natural inclination to sin---that permeates everyone and everything. We call it "original sin." Except there's something even more original than sin: the goodness and holiness God made us for.

The story reveals so much about sinful human life. At first Adam and Eve try to hide from God. When they are finally face to face with God, they blame each other. Nowhere in the whole story do they confess their sin or plead for God's mercy. Yet, as tragic as the story is, and as profound as its effects through history, it's also a story about God's grace.

Even while God meted out judgment, he also promised an ultimate victory (Gen. 3:15). Even as they grabbed leaves to cover their shameful nakedness, God provided permanent clothes. Even as they were thrust out of the garden, God provided them with children and a future.

Strangely, the huge consequences of Adam and Eve's sin point to the dignity God gave them. God created them in his own image and gave them dominion. Precisely because of their high calling they had a high responsibility.

From the story we learn that sin is real, it's pervasive, and it's powerful. There is no piece of human life that is not tainted by sin. By God's grace, however, while sin pervades our life it does not overwhelm it; while we are totally depraved, we are not utterly depraved.

One thing we cannot do is save ourselves. Salvation must come from outside ourselves, and already in this story we begin to sense who it will come from.

  • Someone once said that his big mistake was talking about God rather than to God. Does that thought resonate in your own life?

  • Read through the conversation between Eve and the serpent again, and think about the steps by which temptation came.

  • How do nakedness and clothes function in this story and in our lives today?

  • Original sin is a difficult concept. Take care not to picture it as a kind of bad gene we inherit from our parents, right back to our first father and mother. You might picture it as the hockey or basketball team that represents your school. When the team loses a big match, the entire school loses. Adam and Eve were our team in God’s test. When they failed we all failed. The wonderful thing is that Christ is our new team. When he obeyed and won we all obeyed and won, as we trust in him.

  • What kind of story is this, with its talking snakes and theological fruit trees? While you shouldn’t provoke the question, if it comes up in a discussion let the group know that the Bible uses many different kinds of writing to tell the truth about God and ourselves. Sometimes it’s straightforward and detailed. Other times, like this story, it’s mysterious and filled with symbolic elements. But it’s not really about snakes and trees or fig leaves; it's about who God is and who we are, and how the presence of sin changes everything.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

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