Defining “Garden Variety” Evil

What’s your picture of evil? Did you come up with a name of someone, present or past, whom you would consider the personification of evil? I’m sure that without too much thought you could come up with a list of ten or more names of evil dictators or serial killers. It’s not hard to do. What is harder to see and understand is the everyday variety of evil that impacts our lives. To understand that more fully, we need to go back to a time before evil existed.

In the beginning God created a perfect world. When man and woman were created, it went from being a good place to a very good place (Genesis 1:26-31). It was a paradise that our limited human minds can hardly fathom. There was no death, no nine-to-five daily grind, and no difficult relationships–at least for a time.

God was so intimately involved in creating man and woman that He got down and got His hands dirty. With only His words He created land, water, sky, fish and animals, but He got down in the dirt to first create Adam and then create Eve (Genesis 2:7,21). It’s the first picture of God’s desire to be intimately involved with humanity.

In addition to this special intimacy with their Creator, Adam and Eve enjoyed living in idyllic surroundings. It was a sensually pleasurable place. There were trees that were not only good for food, but also pleasant to look at (Genesis 2:8-10).

Man and woman were given the maximum freedom and authority of any created being.  They were given authority over every created thing in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:28).

There was only one rule to follow–don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall die” (Genesis 2: 16-17 NRSV).  Only one simple rule! Think of how may rules and regulations we must deal with simply to drive to the mall. Speed limit 50.  No right turn on red. “Stop” signs, “Yield” signs and unsigned rules of the road.  They only had one rule–stay away from that tree.

God’s intent was that we would never have knowledge of evil.  His desire for us was to feast on fruit from the tree of life.

In two short chapters, the course of humanity changed. If we were directing a Hollywood blockbuster, we would indicate the dramatic change of events by the changing music, diminishing light and other visual clues. But there are no special effects to soften the paramount change in humanity recorded in Genesis chapter three. Spurred on by the serpent, Eve eats from the forbidden tree and then encourages her husband to do the same. He willingly participates. Nothing will ever be the same again. Evil has entered our world.

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About Cheryl