In the first part of this story (Part 1), I showed you a version of ‘god’ that no one should ever believe in, and eventually never will. I chose this as the message that I would deliver to a theoretical 1.7 million people for the simple reason that this ridiculous story is really the message that many people hear when Christians try to tell them the ‘gospel’, and it breaks my heart that my Father is portrayed like this a vast majority of the time. Even worse, the reason Christians are telling this story is because this is the one they themselves actually believe.
In Parts 2 and 3, I want to tell you this same story with a few significant changes. For the sake of brevity there are going to be some rather ‘large’ statements made that you’ll likely want me to unpack a bit more. To this end I would simply encourage you to remember the fact this is merely a lens that you can chose to retrofit to your own prescription as you see fit. Truth is a person that walks with you on a journey of maturation. Let Him be the one to guide you, and feel free to enjoy this lens or not.
Without any further ado, this is the version of the story that I believe the world actually needs to hear:
God’s kids were playing around in the house one day while dad was away at work. Dad had always told them that they could do whatever they wanted as long as they didn’t break the vase of good and evil. As you would guess, the day came when the kids were messing around in the living room and Eve bumped the table that the vase was on. As the vase rocked back and forth a bit, almost falling onto the floor, Eve began to wonder what the big deal was about this vase anyway. I mean, they had accidentally broken lots of stuff in the house and Dad never seemed to mind a bit. Still, this dumb vase of good and evil seemed so important to Dad as it was the ONLY thing in the house they couldn’t touch, or break, or something.
As she pondered this whole thing an idea popped into her head. “Dad knows why I shouldn’t break this vase, why shouldn’t I?” Without taking time to think better about it, she tipped the vase over and it fell to the floor, shattering into a thousand pieces.
Immediately Eve regretted her decision. For the first time in her life she had this feeling like Dad was going to be really upset with her. Although she had never seen Dad get angry with anyone, she couldn’t help feeling like He was never going to love her again. The more she considered what she had done, the more she couldn’t help but see how stupid and weak and small she was. Dad was so big and strong and smart, everything she wasn’t. Then the sound of the key in the door came crashing into her ears, and she was terrified.
Not knowing what Dad was going to do, the kids immediately hid themselves behind the couch and waited for Dad to walk into the living room.
When Dad came in, He saw the broken vase and immediately knew what was going on. The journey had begun.
The children had no clue that He had told them to stay away from the vase for their own good, and now they were afraid and ashamed because of what they’d done. As He walked over to the broken vase on the ground, he stooped down to pick it up and could feel two pairs of eyes fearfully watching him from just around the corner of the couch.
“Where are you kids?” God enquired gently. Of course He knew where they were, but a harsh scolding from Dad was the last thing they needed right now. They were already punishing themselves enough.
As He sat down in His favorite chair to sort through where to go from here, the kids found the courage to come out from behind the couch and receive their punishment. Realizing that the kids were still too young to understand the deeper meaning behind the vase and its relation to their lives, Dad began to explain to them what was going to begin to happen as a result of breaking the vase. This had nothing to do with what Dad was going to do TO them. It was simply a RESULT of breaking the vase, and one day they would understand what it was all about. For now, however, it broke his heart that his innocent children now knew what it was like to condemn themselves. It would be a long journey for them to finally realize that the journey itself was the whole point of the vase in the first place.
Jesus was Dad’s oldest. The firstborn of all the kids. As Dad was sitting in the living room with the kids, Jesus came home from school and walked into the living room and sat down. He couldn’t help but notice how different Dad felt from how the kids felt. Dad, the loving, generous, amazing Father that He always is, was clearly trying to assure the kids that everything was going to be ok, and that He wasn’t mad. Still, the more Dad tried to console them, the more afraid of Him they got. So much so that when Dad asked Eve for a hug, she flinched and hid herself back behind the couch. “I don’t deserve a hug,” she said. “Just tell me what I need to do to make you happy and I’ll do it.” Try as he might, no matter what Dad said, she just couldn’t believe that He was already happy with her.
It was after this shocking statement from Eve that Jesus looked over and saw the reason for this odd exchange that He was witnessing. Ah, the vase had finally been broken. Today was the day the kids journey would begin. It was astounding how quickly Eve’s conscience had already begun to create the separation between her and Dad. Neither Dad nor Jesus wanted it to be this way, but they knew it was a natural result of disobedience, and was all part of the journey of becoming adults like them.
I’ve had so many people ask me why Dad ever gave the kids the commandment not to break the vase in the first place, and while I don’t have the space to explain it all here, I’ll do my best to summarize.
First, I can tell you that I am 100% certain it was for our own good. Not in the way that you may think, such as telling a kid not to touch a hot stove. Instead, in the reality that every parent needs His kids to know what was right and what was wrong. If there was nothing in the house that they ‘couldn’t do’, where would their sense of right and wrong come from? The rule wasn’t there to make the vase magical. The vase actually had NOTHING to do with it. It was the COMMANDMENT itself that made it good or evil. Dad could have told them not to eat a certain cookie. Or not to sit in a particular chair. The vase, the cookie, or the chair have nothing to do with Dad’s point. It’s the commandment attached to them that matters.
The very thing that the breaking of the vase ultimately gave to Eve, a sense of right and wrong, was the very thing that Dad was trying to give them INSIDE of the rule not to break it. After all, Dad knew what was right and wrong (Genesis 3:22). Dad also knew that knowing right and wrong was a huge part of being an adult ‘like’ Him. He simply didn’t want them to have to EXPERIENCE wrong in order to understand it. He tried to GIVE them understanding of right and wrong inside of a commandment that contained it. Break the vase, wrong. Don’t break the vase, right. But unfortunately, as we know, they never understood that they already knew good and evil, so they decided to experience it for themselves.
In the final part of this story (Part 3 to be published 21st May 2017), we will see how this whole thing unfolds. If you’re confused up until this point, I encourage you to try and wrap your mind around the last two paragraphs. I studied for 8 years to figure this out, and when I did ... everything changed.
Austin is just your average Christian who wants to play his part in changing the world. He is the Executive Director of Epoch, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the true ‘Body of Christ’ out of the age of exclusion and into the age of inclusion. He believes that everyone on the planet has a part to play in the family of God, and his passion is to help people find out exactly what that part is in their own life. He currently resides in Traverse City, Michigan, USA with his wife Joanie and his two dogs, Hops and Barley… and yes, he likes beer.
See all previous articles by Austin Fletcher