The Tenderness of God; The Hardness of Being Human

Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra in 2009 wrote about God, men and women:

AdamEveForest“Let us turn instead to the creation of Adam and Eve as described in the Bible, beginning with the creation of Eve. As you know, God took a rib from Adam’s side (Gen.2:21), and having done that, Adam was no longer whole, no longer complete. So what did God do? He immediately remade it and closed the wound without Adam feeling any pain. Adam was now whole again. And as all of this was taking place, it says that God caused Adam to fall into a state of ecstasy (Gen, 2:21).

God did not put Adam to sleep or in a kind of trance, because what God did required Adam’s consent. How God respects our freedom! Adam was able to see what was happening, even though he didn’t fully understand it. God opened up his side, removed one of his ribs, and from it fashioned a new human being, Eve, whom God gave to Adam (Gen. 2:23).

When God showed Eve to Adam, he was amazed; completely dumbfounded. At first he thought he was seeing another version of himself, and said, this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (Gen. 2:23). It’s like seeing your brother or sister, whom you haven’t seen in many years, and saying:”But that’s me!” But when God said Let us make a helper fit for him (Gen. 2:18), Adam realized that there was a mystery here. And thus he said, “I Adam (‘ysh), will call her Eve (‘’ysha),” “Eve” being the feminine form of “Adam,” as if my name was Paul and I called you Paula. Adam and Eve were one, each being an image of the other, and so were not ashamed of their nakedness, because it’s only in the presence of others that our nakedness becomes a source of shame. But they were one flesh, just as we read at the marriage service: The two shall be one flesh (Eph. 5:31, citing Gen 2:24). And this is why they were always together, and why there was no hostility between them, for no man hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it (Eph. 5:29).

When they sinned against God, however, what happened? They realized that they were naked and so they covered themselves up with aprons made of fig leaves (Gen. 3:7). Do you see what happened? The unity that existed between them was broken. Their personalities were divided; they became strangers to each other, and so they covered themselves in order to conceal their bodies. And this is what sin does to us: it cuts us into pieces and divides us from ourselves and from others. Sin splits people up. It cuts them right down the middle. And thus Adam was ashamed, both before Eve and before God, and went off to hide. God, of course, went to look for him…

And when the little god sinned, God wept. God wept! But Adam ran off and hid. What did God do then? He humbled Himself. He acted like nothing was wrong. He approached quietly, feigning ignorance, hoping gradually to come around to the subject of what had happened. Adam, He called out, where are you? (Gen. 3:9). No answer. Just a trembling behind the trees. But God finds him, and says: “Why didn’t you come out to meet me? Why didn’t you come running to see me, as you always do? What’s the matter? What’s that you’re wearing?” By this time however, Adam had thought up an excuse, and blurted out: The woman that You gave me, she deceived me (Gen.3:12). It’s as if he had said: “this is all your fault, God. This all happened because of the woman that you gave me.” No humility here. And it was Adam’s utter lack of humility that sealed the verdict of death against him.

To all of this, God said something like: “The woman that I gave you? Do you mean Eve? But you and Eve are one person, aren’t you? How, then, can you blame this on her and say that you had nothing to do with it? How can you divide yourself, your nature, in this way? How did Eve become a separate person? Wasn’t it you who said she was bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh? Didn’t you call her by your own name? When did the one become two? How were you separated?”

Despite the fall of man, God did not, and never will, abandon the human race. Unlike the woman in pain who forgot her baby at the dentist’s office, God will never abandon us. Through His prophet, He tells us: Even if a mother forgets her child, I shall not forget you (Is. 49:15), because you are a god that I have made.

So this is our God! I have stretched out my hands all the day long to a disobedient and contrary people (Is. 65:2). We have no time for God. We’re too busy. We don’t think about Him because we’re tired. But all the day long, Christ, the Great High Priest, stands with His hands outstretched on the cross, on which the little gods have nailed Him. And from that lofty vantage point, He supplicates His heavenly Father on our behalf. Though we crucify Him every day, God prays for us! That, my beloved, is humility.

(The Way of the Spirit: Reflections on Life in God,  p. 305-309)


One thought on “The Tenderness of God; The Hardness of Being Human

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