If sharing life together is foundational to what it means to be human, why is it such a struggle for us? The underlying assumption here is that casual social involvement with one another isn’t the same thing as authentic community. Simply being together – whether with friends at a coffee shop or family members in a home, doesn’t guarantee that true community is happening. We all know what it’s like to participate superficially in community. We gather with others, we spend time with them, but our interaction is shallow. We don’t really know them, and they don’t really know us. Our tendency to build walls that keep others out of our lives seems to contradict our inbuilt desire to do life together. Something has gone wrong. Our ability to participate in community has been compromised. If you ask me, we’re up against something powerful when it comes to forming substantial relationships.

The second act (The Fall) of the biblical drama sheds light on what this something is. Genesis 3 tells the story of the human race falling away from God in rebellion. At this point, life ceases to operate the way it was intended. We enter into a post-Eden world marked by the not the way it’s supposed-to-be-ness of life. Immediately after Adam and Eve rebel against God they turn against each other. We catch a glimpse of this through their practice of blame-shifting. Neither accepts responsibility for what they’ve done. The principle at work here is that a fractured relationship with God results in broken relationships with others. After the Fall, human history is filled with envy, deceit, gossip, disloyalty, distrust, sabotage, murder etc. It might surprise you to learn that all of these vices are found on the pages of the Bible. This is why the biblical story often reads like a soap opera in case you’ve ever wondered. Not that I’ve ever watched a soap opera, but anyway…

The entrance of sin (rebellion against God and his good ways) into the world changes everything. Sin shatters the good thing God had going in creation. A catastrophe has occurred and we find ourselves in the middle of a mess. Ever since the tragic events of the Fall, humans have (consciously and unconsciously) been trying to find the way back to Eden. The following lines from Mo Leverett’s song, Autumn Rain, captures this well:

We are, but exiles from Eden, abandoned.
Banished in Babylon, lost and cold.
Wandering remnants of this ruined race,
Startled and still staring in Adam’s face.

We’re all trying to “cope” with life this side of Eden. We’re trying to figure out what the heck has happened. How do we make sense of our yearning for real community, but also of our deep-seeded resistance towards it? It’s quite the paradox, isn’t it? It’s a paradox, though, if considered in light of the biblical story, points us to the truth of human existence. We’re up against personal bentness as well as the general brokenness of life – a combination that has serious ramifications for our participation in community. This is why I believe the not the way it’s supposed-to-be-ness of life caused by the Fall accounts for why we humans struggle at sharing life together. What do you think?

The conversation continues

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