With an outstretched hand, her fingers closed around the piece of fruit, and she pulled it from the tree. Her lips met flesh as her teeth sunk in as she ate. In a simple act of defiance and disobedience, everything that God had created was different within an instant. From this moment, the man and woman God created were no longer living in a united relationship between creation and creator but instead, they were separated. A simple act of doubting God’s word leads them to be cut off from their life source leaving death and decay. This first division would create divisions throughout the world and history.
Before Adam and Eve were banned from the garden, they were cursed. Women would be at odds with their bodies through painful childbirth, men would be at odds with their ability to provide as they would battle with creation, thorns, and thistles and by the sweat of their brow they would labor, and man and woman would have their separation. Women would desire the place of their husband and husbands would misuse their place in creation to be domineering instead of loving. Then, of course, they would be cast out of the garden forever, the final separation, cast from the presence of God.
This separation bleeds into all creation. Children will resent their parents; brother will kill brother. Nations will rise against nations and will enslave one another. This separation from God will pervert the order of His dear creation which he crafted. The humans that bear His image will forget to who they belong, and instead will make their own gods from bronze, silver, and gold. They will bow down to false idols, and everyone will do what is right in their own eyes, regardless of what the Lord has spoken. The once harmonious creation will devour itself, and it will be in constant decay as everything will move towards death. Which is the ultimate separation.
This is the real tragedy of death. Not only are those who die separated from their loved ones on earth. Where there will be no more conversations, no more meals together, no more words of comfort spoken, and no more embraces shared. Yet, there is a greater tragedy in death. The separation of body and spirit. The human that was once whole, body and soul are broken apart in death as the spirit leaves the body to sleep in the earth as it decomposes back to the dust from which it was made. This is death. For we were created as body and soul together, united, in a whole person bearing the image of God, and in death we are no longer whole, but only a part. While we rest in the arms of the Father, we long for unity, for resurrection, when body and soul are united again.
All of this division is a result of the first separation, the separation of creatures from their Creator. The separation of humanity from God. This is the moment that is the cause of the suffering, the turmoil, the pain, the division, and the death in the world. Where a wedge was placed between heaven and earth. But God would not abandon those that He made. Out of love, God would call Abraham and would create a great nation that would multiply and bless the earth. Not with military strength, not with a great economy, not with great cities, not with science, innovation, and medicine, but instead from this nation would come the root of Jesse, a descendent from the great King David would come and be seated on the throne and His kingdom would last for eternity. This King would come and bring unity, but not to the world, or the nations, at least not yet. No instead this king would come and in the flesh of a baby where heaven and earth would be reunited once more in perfect union in the perfect person of God and man, Jesus. In Christ, creation becomes complete. In Christ, what was once broken and divided is made whole. This is what Christ does. He crashes into a broken world and makes it new. He restores our relationship with the Father.
This is the beauty of Christ, the desire of nations who causes all divisions to cease. Yet, it feels today like Christ has come and gone, leaving us here where nothing seems to have changed. It almost feels like things are worse than ever. At least in the short scope of our lives it may seem this way. It appears that times are only getting tougher. If Christ has come to unite the nations, to cause divisions to cease, then why are families split in half by the tragedy of divorce? If Christ has come to cause divisions to cease, then why can’t we talk to our friends who have different political views? If Christ has come to bring unity, why do we still send our children off to die in wars? If Christ has come to bring peace, why do parents mourn another school shooting? If Christ has come to bring joy, then why does death continue to steal our loved ones from old age to the womb? If Christ is supposed to bring hope, peace, joy, and love then why do death and destruction rage? It feels like Christmas acts as a temporary painkiller, but it wears off and we feel once again. The pain is still there. We find ourselves once again waiting. Waiting for pain, suffering, and sorrow to cease.
Yet while we wait, we do not sit idly by. We do not just throw our hands up in the air and quit allowing evil to win. We are ambassadors of reconciliation for the world. We can strive for unity in our lives where there is division. We can seek to reconcile with those who hate us and those that we hate. We can work toward peace, opposing violence in every form. We can work together, even with those who differ from us in opinion. We can fight the earthly desire of greed and give to those in need. We are the people of God, and it is through Christ’s church that he continues to work to unite the world until he comes to make it whole.
So, we wait. We wait for Christ to come and cause all division to cease. For although he has restored us to a right relationship with the Father, His work is not yet complete. Christ will return, and as John records, He is coming soon. And when He does, families that are broken will be made whole. When He does, we will not find ourselves pledging allegiance to flags, political parties, or ideologies. Instead, we will gather united around the throne of God. When Christ comes nations will give up their guns and arms and they will be melted down and made into harvesting tools. Instruments of death turned to instruments of providence. When Christ comes there will be no more hatred that inspires senseless violence but instead, people will live together peacefully. When Christ comes, he will banish death once and for all and restore life to all people. This is our hope, this is our peace, this is our joy, and this is our desire.