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A day at the zoo and buyer's remorse

If it’s a good one, a zoo can be a great place to go.  For suburbanites, it’s a vivid reminder of what the big world outside of theirs is like.  But to all, it’s a menagerie of sights, sounds, and smells.   The sizes, colors, and shapes God has employed in His creation of the animal kingdom is astounding – koala bears, kangaroos, peacocks, giraffes, elephants, hippopotamuses, polar bears, penguins, sloths, etc.  It’s quite an entertaining ensemble!

I suppose Adam felt all of this and more when the animals were brought before him (Genesis 2:19-20).  He gave them a name (perhaps corresponding to some quality they had).  Still, I rather imagine he felt like we do after a long day at the zoo – exhausted and ready to head back home.  Only in his case, the zoo came to him and he was personally vested in the whole process because he was looking for a companion for himself (v. 20).  Animal lovers need take no offense, but the truth was that he found nothing that remotely resembled what he was looking for.  Pets are fine and different people form different levels of attachments to them but they are not human and can never be a substitute for human companionship.  This is what Adam experienced.  There was nothing that was a counterpart to him.  And as much as we like visiting the zoo, no one really wants to take it home with them!

So God does for Adam what he cannot do for himself – He gives him a companion.  You remember the story, Adam is put to sleep, God takes a rib and fashions it into a woman.  Adam wakes up and there she is.  He is excited! 

Fast forward to post tree of knowledge of good and evil and things have changed dramatically.  When God calls Adam to account for the choice he has made, he points the finger at the woman God gave to him.  The woman You put here with me,” he says to God.  And there it is on record - the first case of buyer’s remorse. 

Of course, the pain he’s feeling isn’t over the woman God gave him, it’s over the sin they have committed.  That’s what sin does – it takes what is good and wholesome and shreds it to pieces.  Sin causes fragmentation and alienation; it comes between people and pushes them apart (Cain and Abel, Cain and mankind, the people on earth at the flood, the people at Babel, etc).   

God brings people back together through Jesus Christ.  The cross and resurrection showed that however strong and dominant sin is in the world (and who can underestimate it?), God is stronger.  Evil was defeated there (Colossians 2:14-15).  In the middle of sin’s chaos and disharmony in this world, God has established an outpost called church.  Here, the Spirit has brought together men and women from all walks of life.  On the broken and bruised planet, they are called to live lives of wholeness and community.

This is the same unity the Shema called Israel to (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).  God was unified (one), so His people were to be unified - heart, soul, and mind.  Ephesians 4:4-6 seems to be the Shema for the church.  The holiness of God calls for the wholeness and community in the church. 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” (Ephesians 4:2-3).

What God has joined together, let man not separate!

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