By: Staci Stallings
So God IS love. God exists in a relationship — Father, Son, Holy Spirit. God created us to live in that relationship with Him. And everything was great until Adam and Even fell for the lie that they would be gods if they just disobeyed.
Thus we ended up with the fallen mind.
The Message Bible foreshadows what the fallen mind means in this verse:
“The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.” –Genesis 2:25
Now, let’s continue with the Adam and Eve story for a moment.
When Adam and Eve fell, when they ate the forbidden fruit, several things happened almost immediately. First, they knew they had messed up badly, that God would surely be angry, AND they realized that they were naked.
All three of these led to their reaction to the situation.
Now pay attention because is not just about them, it’s about us and what we do when we choose separation from God.
What is the next part of the story? Adam and Eve have realized their colossal mistake. What do they decide to do?
First, they sewed themselves some fig leaves.
Ever been there? Realizing someone knows and trying desperately to cover it up? Not a fun place to be.
“the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.” (TMB, Genesis 3:8)
Because for the first time ever, they felt shame.
Now shame is a strange word that you’ve heard all your life. What does shame mean?
Dictionary.com explains shame this way:
“the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous,”
Shame IS painful.
I would add to this definition that shame says, “There’s something wrong with me. I am defective. I am not worthy.”
That’s why Adam and Eve hid… they suddenly did not feel “good enough” to be in God’s presence. Their gazes turned from God and His goodness to themselves and their nakedness.
And they felt shame.
I want to bring two more terms in here — unconditional love and conditional love.
Unconditional love is love that doesn’t depend on anything the lovee does, says or is. There is no one-strike-and-you’re-out with unconditional love. It always is and it always will be.
God’s love is unconditional.
We know this because even though God, being practical, disciplined Adam and Eve, He also clothed them:
“God made leather clothing for Adam and his wife and dressed them.” (Genesis 3:25)
God took care of them even though they had disobeyed. He did not severe the relationship with them, nor does He severe the relationship with us when we choose to separate ourselves from Him and His love.
Now let’s look at conditional love.
Conditional love is what most of us grew up with. Conditional love is not based on love, it is based on shame. Jeff Van Vonderen in “Tired of Trying to Measure Up” calls it a “shame-based system.” A shame-based system says, “I will love you as long as…” fill in the blank. You are good. You are perfect. You don’t do X or you make sure to do Y.
The second you fail to live up to my standard or my “condition,” I will withdraw my love from you.
Conditional love forces the lovee to turn their gaze from the lover to their own behavior. The relationship suddenly becomes based on the lovee’s behavior.
Ever been there? Ever felt like you know you are not worthy, that if you mess up or mess up again, the person you want to be in a relationship with will withdraw their love? If so, you know that conditional love stinks. It hurts. It wounds. And it kills.
It kills your spirit because no matter how good you are, no matter how perfect, you can never be perfect enough, you know you are just one mistake away from not being loved. Conditional love twists your spirit around a dagger. It is the hallmark of the fallen mind.