All That Is

Written by Pastor Aaron Decker. Posted in Light and Life

Augustine’s life was changed by a pear tree.  The man we now call a saint once climbed over a fence onto private property to steal some fruit from the tree in its center.  The crime was little, it was silly, it was meaningless, and it ate away at him for a long time thereafter.

As part of the sect of the Manicheans, Augustine grappled with his sin by insisting it was part of the epic struggle between the forces of evil in our world and the forces of good.  Evil was embodied in the flesh, they said, and good in the spirit.  And so the theft of the pear was a fleshly need, to satiate a desire of the tongue, or of the stomach.  For that was where evil lay.

Except, for Augustine, this was not a fleshly need.  He wasn’t hungry, he didn’t even particularly like pears.  But he was with a bunch of friends, and they conspired together to steal the pears “just for fun.”  It was something inside, something spiritual, which had gone wrong in that act.

Unable to reconcile himself, he turned to the church, where he found a solution to the problem he was having.  God, the church confesses, is the creator of ALL things, seen and unseen.  There is no separate force that creates flesh, that creates evil.  God creates the spirit, and God creates the flesh, and thereby all must be good.  It is our human misuse of that goodness that creates evil.

Saint Augustine is perhaps best known for his exposition of the opening chapters of Genesis, and the theology he draws from it, pervasive throughout all his written works.  For him it is clear:  Adam’s sin is not a “sin of the flesh,” a simple reaching for a piece of fruit on a tree.  Rather, it is the desire to do without God, to be, as the serpent says, like God himself.  God is the very foundation of all creation, the source of our being.  Cut off from that source, we lose our being, we become not alive but dead, empty.

Which is one of the reasons Christ is so important.  As the incarnation, Jesus himself is a sign of the goodness of all, of our rootedness in God.  Because in Him, God became flesh!  Flesh cannot be bad, cannot be evil, if for no other reason than that it is made holy by Christ’s presence as flesh.  We are whole, we are holy, we are grounded in God.

And in Christ, nothing can separate us from God, the source of our being.  Not even our sin, all the forces of evil, all the wickedness in the world.  For Christ has reconnected us permanently, forever.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Aaron

Creator of All Good, may all things, even my own sin, ever draw me back to you.  Amen.