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  • Writer's pictureJohn Coleman

The Separating Power of Fear (rough notes journey through Scripture)

Updated: Jan 19

Genesis 3:10 (RSVCE): And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid..."


Fear is cheap fuel. It will take you far, fast, but ultimately it runs out. The only sustaining fuel is love. We hear some version of this in the church so often that it runs the risk of becoming a platitude. God is love. Love makes all the difference. Love wins. All you need is love. But what happens when you are on the highway with no gas station in sight and you are running on empty?


Isn't it funny that we often intuitively know when something we have done is wrong. We can feel it. We know it. And no matter how hard we work to justify it, the embarrassment or fear is always there. Adam experienced this in the aftermath of the "fall" when he did exactly what God commanded him not to do. One thing. He had one thing to do in order to stay in paradise and he didn't do it.


He now finds himself in the presence of the one who gave him the prohibition and what does he do? He hides. He is afraid of God. Frightened of what might happen now that he has betrayed him. So Adam separates himself from his creator thinking if he hides that somehow his infraction isn't real. He hides so he doesn't have to face the God who loves him.


I like to think of the story surrounding the forbidden fruit, not as an explanation for sin (separation from God) in the world, or why humanity is the way it is, etc. I like to view it as a lesson on forgiveness and the love of God.


Adam separated himself from God due to his action of the action of eating the fruit. The movement toward separation knows no end unless someone moves to end it. Barbara Crafton once said about forgiveness that it is not about who caused the separation but who can end it. I think Adam would have stayed hidden from God for eternity if God had not reminded him of his presence and love.


The great lie of the serpent is not in what he said to Eve, but in emotional explosion he knew would result from the sin. He didn't have to say "eating this fruit will make you feel unworthy, unloved, like a failure, like a traitor and you will want to hide your shame." The shame involved with any separation from God results in this fire of self loathing and I think the serpent knew it would be a wedge in the relationship of humanity and God. And it is the lie that continues to keep so many out of the loving arms of God.


A relationship involves communication. The power of confession, which I am sure I will talk about ad nauseam later in these reflection, doesn't pretend that something didn't happen, but bridges the separation and casts out the fear with love. It is a love that helps us begin again walking humbly with God.


Of course there was a consequence for the action. Our actions always have consequences. We cannot sin with impunity. And yet the punishment for Adam and Eve comes with provision and care. God made them clothes and in doing so had to sacrifice a part of his creation. We see the sacrificial love of God even in the midst of separation.


Fear is cheap fuel. It will us stranded and alone. But the love of God waits on every highway and byway where we desert ourselves waiting to fill us up.

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