In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that was in them – the sun, the moon, the stars, the sea, the dry ground, all vegetation, the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the animals who dwelt upon the earth, and man in His image. He stood back each day of His creation and looked with great joy and satisfaction at what He had made. He proclaimed the work of each day to be “very good.” Though, when He made man on the sixth day, He proclaimed that His work was “not good,” for man should not dwell alone. He must have a helper. And so He created woman to join man to live in the beautiful place that God had made, and to take care of the beautiful garden. Together they lived, and tended, and communed with God for some period of time.
Unfortunately, that was not the end of the story. God had an enemy, and he was not good. He hated God and wanted to destroy and disrupt all that God had made. He came to the woman (and the man) and questioned what God had said. He lied to them about the character of God, telling them that if they disobeyed God and ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, they could have the wisdom to know all things – the knowledge that God was withholding from them. They believed Satan, and not God. God’s beautiful and perfect creation was splattered with ugly black paint. And a terrible thing happened between all the creatures that God had so carefully and lovingly designed.
We call this terrible destructive action against God’s masterpiece, the Fall. At the Fall a number of long-lasting effects rippled through the earth and its inhabitants.
- God was separated from the man and woman that He had made. God is good, and perfect, and Holy. The man and woman He had made in His own image were now marred and distorted in the way they bore God’s image. God could no longer look upon and fellowship with the people. The distortion of God’s image passed on to each human being to be born from this point forward, except for One.
- Not only was God separated from the man and woman, they also were separated from Him. They acquired a knowledge that they were not equipped to handle, and they didn’t know what to do with it. They could no longer enjoy being in God’s presence.
- The man and the woman were separated within themselves. With God’s image within them now distorted, they did not know themselves and were faced with evil desires and emotions.
- The man and the woman, and every person who came after them, except for One, now also shared in the character and nature of God’s enemy. They lied, they blamed, they felt emotions of envy, jealousy, selfishness, lust, pride – emotions God never intended His creation to experience.
- The physical creation that God made – the plants, the sea, the sky, the animals – were no longer tended well by the man and the woman. Their charge to have dominion over the creation was violated and distorted as well. No longer was the earth the beautiful place God intended as weeds, an imbalance of water and heat, and all the other results of the Fall spread over the earth.
- The well-designed harmony was no longer present as the earth creaked and groaned and shuddered from the violent effects of the Fall, as earthquakes, drought and famine, and hurricanes and tornadoes shattered the beautiful calm God designed.
God’s enemy gleefully went about his destructive plan as he brought isolation to all the aspects of God’s creation. No longer could Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. They were filled with guilt and shame and could not bear the shame of what they had done as they were in God’s presence. Adam accused God as he blamed Eve for their new condition, “The woman that you gave me, she is the one who gave me the forbidden fruit.” Eve blamed the serpent for giving her the forbidden fruit. They were sent out of the garden. Later, Eve bore first Cain and then Abel. Cain was jealous of his brother’s favor with God and killed him. So Satan slashed and severed the human relationships God planned until each human being was isolated and at odds with every other human being, with himself, and with God.
Here we are – isolated, confused, hopeless, filled with ugly emotions. There is isolation and separation at every turn – within families, between races, enmity within every social construct. Suicide and opioids seem to be the only solutions.
God, however, was not going to allow His enemy to win. “God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace – His undeserved favor and mercy – you have been saved from God’s judgement). [Romans 6:1-10]
God has created a new Kingdom of light and love in His Son and transfers each person who trusts Jesus for eternal life in His new kingdom, having been removed from the darkness of Satan’s kingdom. He is at work in each of us to redeem our character and our nature as we are gradually recreated in God’s image and Satan’s ugly deeds and character are removed from our lives.
Now there are two parallel kingdoms on the earth.
- One kingdom remains under the control of Satan and in darkness. Those who live in this kingdom are still bound by the chains of isolation, confusion, and hopelessness.
- The other is now under the control of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The citizens of this new kingdom still bear some of the scars of isolation from the place we have lived. But we have a new mandate.
- We are therefore to become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another – practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeing the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became a sweet fragrance. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
- Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Here is where hospitality comes in: These two kingdoms are not fixed. God’s plan is for those who live in the kingdom of light to have a two-pronged responsibility. First, they are to live in relationship to one another – not a relationship isolated from one another, but the kind of relationship that the Trinity have among themselves. Their relationship is to demonstrate the love and character of the Ones Who created the kingdom of love – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Secondly, we are to extend the hand of respect and love to all those who are made in the image of God whether they live in the kingdom of light or remain in the kingdom of darkness. We are to offer hope – as we listen, and smile, and invite, and care – to these who live yet in isolation from God’s wonderful provision of escape and love.