In this day and age, we hear a lot about the natural world. We hear that we are destroying it with our pollution. We hear about the green house effect and how temperatures are rising. We hear about how we are just part of it all and to survive, we need to take better care of the world. While it is true that human beings have a role in the upkeep of the natural world, we do not hear about is God’s role in nature, what did He do, and what does he continue to do for the world. This month we will talk about God’s role in the natural world.
Before the beginning of the world, there was only God. There was nothing else. Nothing else was needed. God had the perfect relationship within the Holy Trinity. But, our God loved so much that although He did not need anything or anyone else, He decided to create someone else beside Himself to love, and to love Him. So what did He do? He created the entire creation from nothing. So, everything that exists, exists because God loves.
The question that comes up now is how did God create the world. Well, there is no full answer. The Bible, particularly the book of Genesis as well as other books in both the Old and New Testaments, try to make sense of the “how” of creation, but can only conclude that God did indeed create the world in a way that only He would really understand.
Those of us, who have taken American History, know that our founding fathers were deists. A deist is one who believes that God created the world and then left it alone. We Orthodox Christians do not believe this. We believe that we have a caring God, a God who is intimately involved in His creation. He takes an active role in His creation. He upholds it. In other words, He keeps it existing. In fact, if He decided that He no longer wanted to exist, it would not exist. The opposite is also true, that even if forces, like people, the devil or even an asteroid, try to destroy creation, God will prevent it because of His will. In other words, because He wants the world to exist, it does, no matter what anybody or anything does to it.
God, in His infinite love created something that did not exist. He created, if you will, an “other” to which He could show and express His love. The jewel of His creation is not the animals, plants or even the angels, but man. Today we will talk about this special and unique creature called man and see what his reaction was to God’s love.
Why is man unique? If you ever read the first chapter of the book of Genesis, (and if you have not you should!), you can see that God created everything by a word. In other words God said “Let there be…and there was…” This is true with everything except Adam. When God created Adam, He did not say, “Let there be…” but stooped down took dirt and made man. In fact, Adam, in Hebrew, means “from the dirt”. God did not stop there but proceeded to breathe life into Adam. By taking him from the earth, and breathing life into him, God made Adam a microcosm, a small world living in the larger world.
God also gave Adam the privilege of being made in the image and likeness of God. In other words, out everything that God created, Adam alone had the potential to become God-like. Adam was free and so he was able to love God back just like God loved him.
After creating Adam, God saw decided that it was not right for Adam to be lonely so He created Eve. Eve was his equal, being a human being just like Adam. She too was made in the image and likeness of God.
Adam and Eve also had a job. You see man was the link between everything that was created and God. Man was supposed to present creation through himself to God. God in turn would bless it and present it back to man.
Did Adam and Eve do their job? No. They decided that they did not need God, and could live their lives just fine without God’s interference. After all that God gave them, they rejected Him.
So what did God do? First, He tried to let them apologize. He asked Adam what happened, and he responded that it was God’s fault for making Eve. He asked Eve what happened and she blamed God as well.
Second, He let them see the world without Him. What do I mean? Did he suddenly disappear? No. He told Adam that instead of doing things that work all the time, some of what he would do will not work. He also told Adam that from now on he would die and not live forever. What about Eve? Eve will have pain in childbirth, and she will be subject to her husband. What does this mean? It means that from that point on her relationship with her husband would not be a balanced one but hr will have authority.
What happened after this rebellion of Adam? The first thing that happened was that Adam broke his relationship with God. The Church teaches that relationship is key, so when Adam ate from the apple, it wasn’t so much that he broke the rules, but that he broke his relationship with God. So, the first and most important result of the rebellion of Adam was the breaking of his relationship with God.
Another thing that changed for Adam was that his perspective of things, how he looked at things, changed. You will notice if you read the Book of Genesis, that after they ate the apple they realized they were naked. Did they not know they were naked before? They probably did, but the point of it was that they started to look at each other differently. They started looking at each other as something to possess instead of someone to relate with. In other words, they wanted to posses each other. That’s why they felt as if they were naked. We feel the same way when someone looks at us in a certain way, no matter what we have on it feels as though we were naked. So, we can say that our relationship with ourselves has changed and gotten worse.
The final thing that changed was the world as he knew it, or more accurately, his relationship to the world radically changed. Instead of being the head of all that was created, instead of being the steward of creation, he became just a small part of it. He started to share in the qualities of all other animals in that he was born, reproduced and then died. In other words, what was natural for the whole world became natural for Adam.
To sum up thus far, the results of Adam’s sin were a broken relationship with God, with Eve and with the world. So, did God just leave us like this? Did he say you made your bed now lie in it? No. He did many things. He chose Abraham and all his children to represent Him. He gave Moses the Law to stop the spread of evil. He gave the Prophets to His people to keep them on the right path. And finally He gave them the ultimate gift, His Son.
Now, back when Adam sinned, God decided that since it was man who rebelled against Him, since it was man who ruined God’s creation, since it was man who pulled everything away from God, then it had to be man who would undo all this negative action. Unfortunately, man was sick. Sin in Orthodoxy is also viewed as a disease. Man was incapable to do this on his own. So God, in His love for man sent His only Begotten Son into the world. God the Son became a human being, without ceasing to be God. So now the Man, Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, could now bring humanity back into a relationship with God.
So, we can see that there were ramifications to Adam’s actions. They did not just affect him and God, but the whole cosmic order. To undo all the negative action, God decided that it was necessary for humanity to do it. Humanity did it with a little help from God in the person of Jesus Christ.