In his famous book, “Rules for Radicals,” Saul Alinsky states “Lest we forget at least an over the shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins – or which is which), the very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.”
It seems politics always devolves into that mindless mentality. And politicians know that, if they want to win an election, or a battle, they must first demonize their opponent. They must first paint their opponent as the “enemy of the people.” This is why in every election cycle the politicians will decry the “mudslinging” of the negative TV ads, and then promptly increase their media budget and create more negative ads. They wouldn’t spend the money on the negative ads if they didn’t work. But they do work.
This is not a new pattern of human behavior or the human condition, dear ones. No, the roots of this pattern of behavior in we humans is traced all the way back to the very beginning.
Our Scripture Lesson comes to us today from Genesis 2:20-3:20. Here Moses recalls for us the fateful events in the Garden from the naming of the animals to the creation of Eve and the wonderful moment when God brings Eve to Adam so he can name her as well. Lots to say about that, but not today.
Moses goes on to relate for us the sad events that led to the pollution of our race by short-sighted choices. He tells us of the Fall.
Look at Genesis 3:1-11:
Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked?
The enemy of mankind begins his subtle slavery over humanity with a slander of the Father. Frankly, that’s always his first weapon of choice. In fact, to this day, the enemy of our souls longs for us to believe the LIE that the Father isn’t really good or loving; that the Father is trying to withhold something from us. This is his favorite lie!
After Eve answers the snake, he continues his lie “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5) The evil one continues his half-truths to impugn the character of the Father by telling her that they won’t die; technically correct since they didn’t immediately drop dead when they ate, but terribly false when the spiritual death that gripped them took root in their hearts; and that God was hiding something wonderful from them.
It is the enemy’s sole purpose to foster and further a false view of God, the Father. His desire is for you to doubt God’s goodness, His love, and His purpose for your life. If Adam and Eve would have only waited until their relationship with God had matured and they were able to handle well the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, God would have welcomed them, and has always wanted to welcome us all, to share all that He has. He even sent His Son to restore humanity to that maturing path to be “like God.” The enemy LIED, and humanity DIED. But our loving Creator did not leave us in such a state. He came to rescue His creation and untie all the knots of the Fall. And now His wisdom, preserved in His Church; His “ecclesia;” offers us the same path offered to our first parents; the path of disciplined maturity, the path of fasting(“Don’t eat”), the path of trust and love rather than mere rule keeping, the path of true repentance. The path that restores us all rather than perpetuating the slavery of self-centeredness foisted upon us by a lying enemy. No wonder “metania” Repentance is the only way to undo and overcome the lie of the evil one. We really have to change our thinking to protect ourselves from this lie!
Today. we are in Great Lent, my dearest. We not only return to the path given to our first parents, but we follow the path successfully traversed by God’s grace in the lives of the saints since the beginning; the path of repentance. We are moving toward Pascha where we see our Lord Jesus pulling Adam and Eve from the tombs. This is our destiny as well if we will only reject the slander of our Good God, and embrace the “growing up” path of disciplined lives. We are all called to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. This Sunday we will have a wonderful new Faith Encouraged LIVE program precisely to discuss the Orthodox understanding of Repentance with our special guest, Fr. Stephen Freeman of the Ancient Faith Blog Glory to God for All Things. Listen this Sunday at 8 PM right here on AncientFaith.com.