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Romans 5:12-15

NOTE: While Pastor Charlie is on a trip out of the country through June 5, he has chosen some of his favorite blog posts from his weblog from 2020 to 2021 to share.

From: August 10, 2020

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14 Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.

I am stepping away from the assigned readings from the Revised Common Lectionary for a few days in the coming weeks to share some illustrations that have come to mind recently.

The lesson I have chosen from Romans came to mind this past weekend when my granddaughter was giving us rules on how to play Monkey in the Middle. Here is a video of her directions given to her father and me:

The rules being so carefully explained reminded me of this story:

“Snake” By Anne Herbert

In the beginning God didn’t make just one or two people, he made a bunch of us, because he wanted us to have a lot of fun and he said you can’t really have fun unless there’s a whole gang of you. So he put us all in this sort of playground park place called Eden and told us to enjoy.

At first we did have fun just like he expected. We played all the time. We rolled down the hills, waded in the streams, climbed the trees, swung on the vines, ran in the meadows, frolicked in the woods, hid in the forest, and acted silly. We laughed a lot.

Then one day this snake told us that we weren’t having real fun because we weren’t keeping score. Back then, we didn’t know what score was. When he explained it, we still couldn’t see the fun. But he said that we should give an apple to the person who was best at playing and we’d never know who was best unless we kept score. We could all see the fun of that. We were all sure we were best.

It was different after that. We yelled a lot. We had to make up new scoring rules for most of the games we played. Other games, like frolicking, we stopped playing because they were too hard to score. By the time God found out about our new fun, we were spending about forty-five minutes a day in actual playing and the rest of the time working out the score. God was wroth about that — very, very wroth.

He said we couldn’t use his garden anymore because we weren’t having any fun. We said we were having lots of fun and we were. He shouldn’t have got upset just because it wasn’t exactly the kind of fun he had in mind.

He wouldn’t listen. He kicked us out and said we couldn’t come back until we stopped keeping score. To rub it in (to get our attention, he said), he told us we were all going to die anyway and our scores wouldn’t mean anything.

He was wrong. My cumulative all-game score is now 16,548 and that means a lot to me. If I can raise it to 20,000 before I die I’ll know I’ve accomplished something. Even if I can’t my life has a great deal of meaning because I’ve taught my children to score high and they’ll all be able to reach 20,000 or even 30,000 I know.

Really, it was life in Eden that didn’t mean anything. Fun is great in its place, but without scoring there’s no reason for it. God has a very superficial view of life and I’m glad my children are being raised away from his influence. We were lucky to get out. We’re all very grateful to the snake.

By grace you have been saved, and this is God’s doing. No longer do we need to keep score. In Jesus Christ, we have won!

Let us pray: Almighty God, forgive us for keeping score. Help us to live in your grace, and frolic in your love. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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