Though some may believe that moving the science/faith dialogue forward is best left to scientists, scholars, and theologians, we at BioLogos recognize that our pastors play an invaluable role in the conversation. Across the globe, pastors are helping their congregations work through difficult issues of science and faith with honesty, insight, and a gentle spirit. To this end we present an ongoing series recognizing sermons (and the pastors who give them) that are helping to promote the harmony of science and faith. Today's sermon comes from Greg Boyd, founder and senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church, an evangelical mega-church in St. Paul, MN. You can download the podcast here.
Whether figurative or historical, the opening chapters of Genesis reveal a world marked by God’s shalom, or wholeness. Humanity was intended to spread and maintain this peace on earth by first receiving the fullness of God’s love and then pouring this love onto God’s creation. By this, God’s perfect order would prevail. Sadly, there is only evidence throughout history of a chaotic world full of hatred, war, mistrust, bloodshed, and animosity. Despite their best efforts to bring harmony, people have failed to achieve shalom in the world. Why is this so? It is the brokenness of the human heart that causes the fragmentation of the world. In this sermon, Dr. Boyd demonstrates this point as he reflects on the Fall and his own personal experience.
He first explains that God has created humans with a deep longing in their heart that only he can satisfy. It is a hunger for unfailing love, unconditional security, and unsurpassable worth. This is so because God desires to pour himself—his nature and life—into each person. As he overflows in each heart, that heart in turn will overflow God’s love into the created world. At the Fall, however, the serpent’s lie concerning God entered and infected the world: that the fullest life is not found in God. Therefore, people are convinced that life can be obtained on their own, that they can somehow generate their own significance apart from God. Yet, the undeniable need in a person’s inmost being to be filled by God remains. In turning away from God, one must look to the world to quench their thirst for him. A person may turn to their idols, but the temporal things cannot satisfy, and this leaves the soul restless. It replaces shalom with brokenness. The earth then receives the brokenness that the soul inflicts on it, and in turn becomes utterly fragmented.
Greg Boyd goes on to relate a powerful, personal testimony of his introduction to this perpetual shattered state of the world. He explains that at age 2, his mother died. Shortly after, his father remarried. It was not a marriage marked by true love, but only convenience. The household was in a constant state of war and unrest, in which his step-mother was very unpredictable and abusive. He recalls a specific memory from one winter as a child. As she was giving him a bath, he angrily told her that he didn’t like her, and was going to run away from home. She immediately yanked him out of the tub by one arm and carried him to the front door. There she threw him, wet and naked, onto the snowy front steps and slammed the door shut. Within a minute, he was quaking from the cold. Terrified at the thought of dying in the icy snow, he begged for the door to be opened. He remembers the humiliation he felt at his nakedness as cars drove past. Eventually, he was pulled back into the house. This is a pattern he grew up with. From it, he learned that the world was a cruel place, that there was no one worthy to trust. He believed he had to fend for himself and make his own life. In this mindset, he drew false conclusions about God, and thus, about himself. Like Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, he too internalized the lie that he must survive and live on his own.
As Boyd concludes the sermon, he describes how the Fall and the lie have been forever reversed in the world and his own heart. By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has unveiled God to the world and destroyed every false conception about his nature. In fact, the Bible identifies him as the very image and form of God. It is Jesus’ willing death on Calvary that shows every person who they are and who God is. The cross speaks to the depth of humanity’s depravity, but also to the great love of God. Despite the sinfulness of man and woman, God shows us our unsurpassable worth to him by sending his righteous Son to the cross to endure our death, and give us eternal life. To the degree that one internalizes the truth of God’s love, one will receive his love, overflow with his love, and bring shalom, the wholeness that all creation desires.