Lent I at St. Peter’s Anglican Church Comox, 2017: We all know the story don’t we? God makes boy. God makes girl. Girl meets snake. Things get fruity.

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

Romans 5:12-19

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. Psalm 32:6

We all know the story don’t we? God makes boy. God makes girl. Girl meets snake. Things get fruity.

What’s truly terrifying about this text,though, is how reasonable the serpent is. I mean it should not be a surprise. The text says that it was the cleverest of all creatures. So it is supposed to be clever Christopher; get with the program. I mean look at what it says “You will not surely die.” Well that’s true in a way its not like Adam and Eve were stabbed with a sword and fell down in death. “God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened.” What does happen when they eat the fruit? Their eyes are opened aren’t they and they can see that they are naked and they’re ashamed. “You will be like God knowing good and evil.” That’s true is it not, that they come to be more like God. And why shouldn’t they? They were made in the image of God after all, should they not want to be more like Him? Doesn’t that show their love for Him?

What the serpent says is perfectly reasonable and is to a large extent true.

This is thoroughly frustrating for me. Somehow I got the idea that’s important to be a reasonable person. If you have a problem you can just trust in your ability to figure it out. Jim and I were talking about the way society is using that concept now: faith and trust. There are plenty of things one can have faith in. Maybe our reason isn’t the best thing to trust. What does trusting in cleverness do for Eve?

Having heard the serpent’s reasonable thoughts Eve beholds the fruit. Where before she was afraid even to touch it, now it is desirable for food, pleasant to fixate her eyes upon, and it becomes something she wants in order to obtain wisdom. Clever thoughts allow her to entertain desires that she had protected herself from before. Yet after the gates of her heart were opened, the desire entertained, she became a slave to it and ate the fruit.

Temptation works that way. First we rationalize the possibility of it. Then we discover the desirability of it. Then we lose ourselves to it. And so the proud are caught in the imagination of their own hearts. We are called to humility.

For the snake’s plan is reasonable. And the snake’s plan is desirable. So the question is begged-what is the snake’s plan not? It’s not faithful. God had told her not to eat the fruit. In eating it, in discerning what was right for herself she consumed the fruit of discernment about good and evil, that is separation from God.

Do you see how we are faced with two ways here? Two possibilities. First there is that which seems reasonable to us, that which we would like to have for ourselves because we have let it become desirable to our eyes. This sits in contrast to the way which is faithful to God. The way we don’t always understand. The way that does not always seem desirable. The way of faithfulness that is trust in God. Proverbs and the Didache talk about them as the way of life and the way of death.

This is not to say that reason does not have a place in a righteous life. It most certainly does. But what we need to know is that engage as we may our own thoughts, trusting in God’s sovereignty means admitting that we don’t know everything. It means having the humility to know that he knows better than the best of our knowledge could know. Faithfulness is more important than our ability to make sense of it.

Wisdom is not cleverness for us. What is Wisdom? The fear of the Lord is Wisdom. What is Understanding? To follow His decrees that is Understanding (Psalm 111:10). The cleverness of the serpent claims to have all the answers. We don’t have the answers. We have faith in God’s faithfulness. We trust in the Truth not because we possess it but because He possess us. It is not so much that we know that fulfills our humanity but that we are known and being known by the Truth the Truth is revealed in us. We are called to Him who is the Way. We are pilgrims in Him.

For Romans tells us how through the faithlessness of one man separation from God entered the world. Yet through the obedience of Christ we receive abundant grace. For our humanity is taken up into the reality of God in perfect concert and unison with his will and commandments. And so as we are taken up into the person of Jesus we are taken up in to the transformative re-creation of his obedience. Our is a faithful God. And we are indeed made in his image, and image perfected in the person of Christ. God is faithful, and so too might we find and receive faithfulness having been found and received in him.

Can we trust in him to conquer us? Can we trust in him who turns our ways on their head? Can we trust in a king who rides into an occupied city on a donkey? He whose victory is in his suffering and death, can we rely on his faithfulness?

We now prepare our hearts to approach his altar, to remember his victory over death, to put our trust in him and his power working in us leaning not on our own understanding.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. Psalm 32:6