Sights and Insights
Devotion for June 15, 2021
Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual.The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. – 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 (NRSV)
I had my annual physical last week, and so I found myself sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room. Across from me was a young mother with two preschool-aged children buzzing around her. The mother was trying to fill out some paperwork. She would pick up her clipboard, grab the pen, find her spot on the page, and then be interrupted by one of the children needing something. So, the mother would give the child something to do, and then pick up her clipboard, grab the pen, find her spot on the page, only to be interrupted again by one of the children needing something. The office staff provided some paper and some crayons to help, but the older child wanted to choose her own picture to draw and not follow any of the patterns on the paper. Pretty soon the younger toddler was running off down the hallway towards the examination rooms. At that point I was called into my appointment, so I do not know what happened next.
The scene reminded me of the days that I had two children in preschool and the challenges it brought to completing even the simplest tasks. It was, in fact, a completely ordinary and even predictable scene. At the same time, it was such an example of our human situation. So often we are like the toddlers, wanting to be entertained and listened to every moment, and running off in our own directions just to escape the boundaries placed on us. That testing of boundaries is developmentally important, but it can also be wearying to watch others carry out that knee-jerk reaction to push away rather than gather together.
The impulse to push to do things our own way rather than listen to and participate in the vision of a good life that God gives us has often been labeled sin. One of the ways that the early church talked about this was that the sin of Adam and Eve was being like toddlers, who used their newfound freedom of life to wander off beyond the boundaries that God gave them. In moving beyond the life-giving boundaries that God presented, they found the harsh realities of a dog-eat-dog world rather than the peaceful existence of the garden. In this way of thinking, Jesus is the new Adam. Jesus remained fully within the vision of the kingdom of God – that is to say, was without sin – and so shows us a way of life that fits God’s vision of the goodness of life on earth. Jesus, then, is not only our savior but also our model of the kind of life that God wishes us to live. It is a life confined by certain rules in a sense, but those rules are there to show us how to be blessings to others, and Jesus shows us the way to live out that kind of life. In following Jesus, we then bear the image of the second Adam, the man from heaven, as Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians.