Milton described the perils of our present world simply as paradise lost. In each of us is not only the desire to live, but the desire to live in a pleasurable place. Yet we contend with our vulnerabilities. Children should never get sick, but they do. Accidents are surprising twists of reality, sinister interruptions of the good life. We don’t want them to happen, but they will. We travel familiar paths everyday and take it for granted that we will always make it from point A to point B, then one day we don’t. Such is life in paradise lost.
The world was not supposed to be this way. God created a world in which we could enjoy His rest (Gen. 2:1). Rest, in the Gen. 2:1 Shabbat sense, is not to be thought of as physical exhaustion, but as paradise completed. Rest comes from the will of God being fully satisfied. Man was created with full access to life. It is the life you have never experienced but your soul can never forget. This is why accidents are so disappointing and sickness seems so unfair. You were created for paradise. This world is chaotic and confusing because it is so foreign to the cravings of our soul. We want life to be good. Before paradise was lost life was very good (Gen. 1:31).
The Woman gets a bad rap because she believed the devil’s lie, “You will not surely die (Gen. 3:5).” But let’s be honest. We still believe the devil’s lie. We have yet to come to grips with how awful life can be in paradise lost. An even more ironic twist to the scheme of Satan is that when people die we become angry, not at the deceiver, but at the Creator. God was honest. Eat the fruit and you will die. It was the devil who lied – but we still believe he was right; die – we shall not! This is why we are so apt to blame God; because we never believed Him in the first place.
So onward we trudge in paradise lost, confused, disillusioned, and angry. As awful as life can be and as vulnerable as we all are, we must take hope that one day the curse will be conquered in Christ and the redeemed will enter into God’s rest (Heb. 4:9). The danger is that we will continue to believe Satan’s lie; that its God’s fault we die, blame Him. If we continue in this line of thought we have not once bitten the forbidden fruit, we have made a feast of it. Paradise lost is not the world that God intended and it is not the world that will always be. God will redeem a people for His own possession and He will create for them a new world (Rev. 21). This is the good news of the gospel.
Until paradise redeemed we must contend with paradise lost and if we are to be saved we must wake up from the lie. People die. We are vulnerable. Satan has deceived us. God was honest that if we disobeyed life would be this way. With whom should we be angry?
God has sent His Son into the world to save the lost (Luke 19:10); the exiles from Paradise 1 (Gen. 3:22-24). That’s us. What makes coming to Christ most difficult is that we have a hard time believing we have lost anything at all. When life goes wrong we believe it is God who has lost His mind, not we who have sinned and lost paradise. Faith calls us to awaken from the deception, to trust Christ, to contend with the world, and to strive to enter the rest – Paradise 2 (Heb. 4:11). And this we should choose to do if we desire to be rescued by grace. Understanding the nature of living in paradise lost, being honest about our vulnerability, and being careful on whom we place the blame.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:18–25 (ESV)