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Monday, April 5, 2010

Theological conversation

Let's be clear about something as we read Genesis 3. The snake doesn't have any problem talking about God. Speculating about God, wondering about God, thinking about God -- doesn't bother this serpent at all. Eve and the snake have a great theological conversation. In fact, it's the first theological conversation recorded in scripture. And if we pay attention, we might learn a really valuable lesson here. Namely:

Talking about God, being interested in God, even being fascinated with God and the things of God will not save you from falling into sin.

Shouldn't this be obvious by now? How many great Christian leaders fall each day and we shake our heads because we are thoroughly jaded? As I write this, the vatican itself is embroiled in the latest string of accusations and counter-accusations about who knew what about which priest was molesting which kids -- and believe me, as a Lutheran I am anything but smug because my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters are suffering right now. We have enough skeletons in our own closets, and so does every other group of Christians.

Thing is, we need to learn this simple truth. Talking about God is no defense against sin.

But think about this for a minute. Eve (and Adam, because he's standing right there, which we'll get to before too long) has the option of, at any moment, crying out to God instead of speculating about him. Can you imagine how different the story would be if Eve said, "Lord, what do you think of what this scaly critter is telling me?" Speaking to God -- as opposed to speaking about God -- short-circuits temptation more often than not.

So guys, it's starting to get warm out, and you know what that means. It means the women who jog these days are wearing considerably less, and so when you're driving or biking or golfing or whatever, your thoughts are going to be rushing down channels that are pretty seriously unhealthy. So what do you do with that kind of temptation? Best solution I've found: When you recognize the temptation to let your thoughts go in unhealthy directions, pray for her. That woman you see jogging. Pray that she'll have a good run. That the runner's high she gets out of her workout draws her closer to God. That she has good relationships at home, whoever she lives with. That God would work in her life. Talk to God about the woman you see and she will no longer be a temptation for you, in your actions or your thoughts. (Ladies, I know you have your own areas of temptation but I'm confident you can translate. Talk to God about what tempts you.)

Do you see how simple, but how radical, this is? If we talk to God, it invites his power and his presence into the temptation in our lives. It changes things. Doesn't fix 100% of everything, no, but it changes things in real ways. If we just agonize about temptation, if we just wish it would go away, we're roasted.

But Eve (and the silent Adam) ignores the possibility of inviting God into the conversation. And she falls, and he falls, just like we do. Oh, yeah -- remember? It's our story.

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