Jump Start # 3309
Genesis 3:9 “Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”
Our verse today is the first question asked by God in the Bible. Something had happened. Something had changed. Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit. And, instead of freedom, which the serpent offered, they found shame and guilt. They were wrong and they knew it. And, now, for the first time, they are hiding from God. The Lord calls out to them. He knew where they were. His question isn’t about location, “we are over here by the banana tree.” He was asking about relationship. Why are you hiding? Why are you afraid? You have never hidden from me before. What’s happened? He knew. He always knows.
From this simple three-word question, we learn some profound lessons:
First, our feelings and emotions are wired into us by God. Passion. Anger. Fear. Guilt. Sorrow. Shame. Embarrassment. Excitement. A parent doesn’t have to teach their child to be sad. It’s within him. A parent doesn’t have to have a discussion about excitement. It’s there. It’s in all of us.
These emotions serve a purpose. They can help us in our walk with the Lord. Sorrow and shame can lead to repentance. Guilt can stop us from doing something that we know is wrong. However, emotions are not the substance of faith. Our faith comes through believing the word of God. A person can “feel” saved, but that doesn’t mean he is saved. A person can feel good about what he is doing, however his conscience may be calloused and his spiritual radar turned off. A person can feel right about doing wrong.
Our culture thrives on feelings and emotions. Right and wrong these days are based upon how one feels. If it feels right, it must be, is how some see things. But we know our feelings can be wrong. Driving down a road that you think you know where you are, but you don’t. Your feelings can be wrong. Your feelings can mislead you. Our feelings change.
One of the true aspects of spiritual maturity is to rein in our feelings and control them. Rather than having our emotions steering our lives, we have our thoughts and convictions doing that. Being able to control your anger, your passion, your excitement is a true mark of growth. Knowing when to talk and when to be silent and with that, knowing what to say and what not to say, demonstrates Biblical growth.
Second, some emotions can take us away from the Lord and His people. Depression, discouragement and feeling left out are not places where God wants us to stay. There are chemical imbalances that some face that must be dealt with medically. This is not something to be ashamed of. We take medicine when our bodies are not well. We can take medicine when our minds are not well. But, one must understand, our culture has little room for faith. Not all things can be fixed by medicine. The problems one faces do not go away because one takes a pill every morning. Medicine may keep our moods in balance, but they do not solve our problems. There are many things that only the Lord can help.
Mental illness seems to be on the rise, especially among young people. Why a young person has anxiety and is depressed is something that I can’t come up with an answer. Shepherds in God’s kingdom are having to deal with complex problems of which there are no quick and easy answers. It’s hard to find mental illness addressed in the Bible. There comes a time when leaders in the church must turn to trusted professionals to help some of the sheep. Not everything is a matter of weak faith. The violence and mass shootings in our country are linked heavily to young men who are angry and have mental issues. Just handing someone a verse won’t change things. It would be good for shepherds to find a trustworthy counselor in their area who they feel safe recommending their sheep to.
Third, God longs for a relationship with us. That’s the thrust of our passage. In the verse before, God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day. The impression is that God and Adam were together. One can only imagine what the conversations were about. Was God teaching Adam about life, nature, responsibilities? And, from that, God longs to have a relationship with you. What was broken in the garden because of sin, becomes the theme of the Bible as God tries to rebuild that broken relationship. It took the blood of Jesus to fully restore what had been before. And, someday, because of that sacrifice of Jesus, we will not only see the face of God, but we will dwell with Him forever, in His heavenly home.
Where are you? Three simple words. God’s first question. Might God ask that of you? Where were you Sunday when the saints gathered to worship? Were you among them? Where were you when someone in your church family needed encouragement? Were you there? Where were you when someone needed a friend? Were you there?
Where are you? Great question.