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Let’s pretend there were only two chapters in the Bible—the first two. Let’s pretend your name is Adam, and all you know is what’s happening in Genesis one and two. There is no fall, no sin, no needs, no wants, no gospel, and no need for an incarnate Christ. It is a beautiful world with you and Creator God (Genesis 2:7).
It is hard for us to think what it would have been like for Adam because we live in a post-Genesis three world (Genesis 3:6). We filter everything in the first two chapters of Genesis through a post-fall lens, a filter marred by sin (Romans 8:22).
It would be like standing in your living room looking through a dirty window at a beautiful day. The day is more beautiful than you could ever realize. Because of the dirty window, it is hard to perceive or appreciate the beauty of what is on the other side. Even the things that we read in Genesis one and two are known through our stained view of life because a fallen lens is the only lens we are aware.
Oh, to grasp what life must have been like for Adam in Genesis one and two. Still, yet, we must press on; we must seek to understand. There are conclusions to draw. For example, Adam lived in a perfect world.
The perfection of God’s creative work, in the beginning, is probably the most distinctive thing that separates how and where Adam lived with how and where we live. Our world is not perfect in any way, shape, or form.
Not only is our world broken, but so are our lives (Romans 3:10-12). Even being born a second time (John 3:7; 1 John 1:7-10) does not perfect us entirely. The theological term for our problem is total depravity, a term that means no fiber of our being has been unaffected by sin. R. C. Sproul talked about depravity this way.
Total depravity means that I and everyone else are depraved or corrupt in the totality of our being. There is no part of us that is left untouched by sin. Our minds, our wills, and our bodies are affected by evil. We speak sinful words, do sinful deeds, have impure thoughts. Our very bodies suffer from the ravages of sin. – R. C. Sproul, Human Depravity
Adam was not depraved like us. Sin had not yet affected him. He lived in perfect harmony with the Author of Shalom. It is important that we grasp the blessedness of Adam’s life and experiences because how he lived is the only lens through which we can draw our best conclusions about Genesis 2:18.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” – Genesis 2:18
The difference in how you read this verse depends on whether you are looking through a dirty window or a clean window. If you are interpreting Adam’s situation through the lens of depravity, it would be easy to conclude that Adam was lacking and longing for more than what he had.
Most of us look at Genesis 2:18 from our experience of loneliness, needs, longings, desires, and cravings. We upload Genesis 2:18 from a sin-centered, dirty window perspective. We look back into the text while mapping our experience over it. Our experience is world’s away from where Adam was in the Garden of Eden.
There was no sin in Adam or with Adam. The things that he thought, felt, and experienced were remarkably different from how you or I view, feel, and experience life.
It wasn’t Adam who said he needed a companion, as though he experienced the incompleteness that we feel (Colossians 1:28). It was the Lord who said it was not right for him to be alone. It had not occurred to Adam that there was a problem with not having a wife since there was no such thing created at that time.
This reality for Adam is where the saying “you can’t know what you can’t know” has important application. It reminds me of newly hatched ducks, and the first thing they see is a dog. What do they do? They follow the dog. The dog becomes the parent of the ducks. The ducks don’t have our knowledge; they’re okay with following the dog.
Adam was living large: He was benefiting from all that the Lord had created. He was living the dream. To speculate that Adam longed for someone or something that did not exist would be pushing the text too far. Adam was the hatched duckling. Life was good–according to him.
But the Lord was in creative mode. Only He knew what needed to happen next. Adam was not part of the decision-making committee (Genesis 1:26). His role was to be the happy recipient of whatever the Lord decided to bring his way.
It is like the happy child who is not asking for anything, but gladly receiving whatever the parent brings home. Because Adam did not need Eve in the way we think about companionship, it would be good to give more thought as to why the Lord gave Eve to Adam. The key here is to keep your mind in his world, rather than yours.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27
The Trinity made Adam in Their image. That means They made Adam with the ability to image the many aspects of the Lord’s character, e.g., holiness, love, patience, long-suffering, pity, and wisdom. This ability is amazing. He had the capacity to do what nothing else in the Lord’s creation could do. He could image God.
Adam was able to be a reflection on earth of our good Lord in heaven. Of course, there was a slight problem. There were no options for him to do Trinitarian image bearing. Having no community to image God was not good.
What Adam lacked was not someone to fill his empty love cup, but someone who would allow him to put God fully on display to the world. Adam was like the world’s greatest baseball player with no place to play. He was suited up and equipped (in God’s image), but had no place to do the main thing God had designed him to do.
Adam did not need love, but he needed someone to be the recipient of his love. That is a major distinction between the Genesis one and two life, and the Genesis three life.
When Jesus talked about relationships in a perfect world, He did not talk about what we needed, but what we needed to do. For example, when He talked about how to live out the Bible perfectly, He said to love Him and to love others most of all (Matthew 22:36-40). The primary direction of God’s love is always toward others, not toward ourselves (John 3:16).
When Paul talked about Adam’s relationship with Eve, He said that Adam should give his life for her (Ephesians 5:25). When Paul gave his version of the two great commandments, he stated that we should count others as more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4). He then tied that into what it means to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5).
In a perfect world, we think about God and others more than ourselves. This concept is critical insight when we think about Adam’s world. He did not need Eve as though there was something wrong with him. He needed Eve so he could more efficiently image the Person who created him. Without Eve, Adam would have been missing out on an incredible privilege and opportunity, which was to magnify Creator God to the world.
Because Eve was made in the image of God and was without sin, she did not need Adam’s love because there was nothing wrong with her either. She needed Adam for the same reason Adam needed her—to more efficiently image the One who created her. That is essential thinking for any wife who wants to put God on display in her marriage.
I suppose some women would read what I have said so far and say, “Praise God. Finally. Somebody gets it. I hope my husband reads this and begins to give me what I need.” That would be a post-Genesis-three worldview, the same perspective I have been trying to deconstruct.
The problem with us is that we live in a post-Genesis-three world where we see people as a means to satisfy our cravings rather than an opportunity to put God on display. Sin has a way of twisting every good thing the Lord has made by turning it onto ourselves.
Jesus came to untangle us from this kind of twisted thinking. He began the untangling process first by setting the example for how humanity is supposed to operate. He was our model for the non-needy life. He said,
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:45
He gave His life and rose from the grave, which empowers us, the regenerated ones, to change our minds regarding how we think about God and others (Ephesians 4:22-24). Rather than using people for our purposes and perceived felt needs, we can now serve people.
The gospel enables us to reverse the effects of sin. Through the power of the Spirit, we can strive to image God by being an encouragement and blessing to others rather than demanding others to serve us in whatever way we sinfully crave.
Adam did not say, “The Lord created you (Eve), so you could serve me.” He did not live in a needy, “you must meet my expectations, or I am going to sin against you” world. Jesus, the last Adam, did not think that way either.
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. – Colossians 1:28
As Christians, we have the power within us to stop demanding from others to give us what we want. Making demands on others to meet our needs is unregenerate, post-Genesis-three thinking that will not end well for anyone who attempts it.
It takes faith in God to stop demanding from others to meet the brokenness that only the Lord can supply (Philippians 4:19). Living in a post-fall world makes for an easy temptation to seek post-fall solutions.
Our problem is we are quicker to look for things in our world, especially from our friends and families, to fix our deepest longings, rather than finding these longings satisfied through the means the Lord provides.
It is like an addict trying to fix herself through drugs. She will never be satisfied. She will never be content. She will always be needy. When other-centeredness turns into self-centeredness, a big black hole will open up and grow to infinite and insatiable proportions in our souls.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. – Ecclesiastes 1:8
The only way to be fixed is through the counterintuitive means of the gospel, which is other-centered learning, loving, leading, and living. That is what the last Adam did when He lived among us (John 7:46).
If you want to be happy and whole, the best thing you can do is learn from Christ, the only person who lived sinlessly in a sinful world. He found fullness by giving, not by demanding others to meet His needs. He imaged God perfectly by putting the Father on display wherever He went. And like the first Adam, there were people available for Him to love. And He loved them well.
Jesus needed people because He needed to pour the love of God into them (1 John 4:8). Without somebody to love, how could any of us fully understand, experience, or image the Lord? I’m sure there are a few people in your life who could benefit from your image bearing. What if your reason for needing others was so you could love them in a similar way that God loves you (Ephesians 5:1)?