Last week, we talked about growing up in the Age of Discovery, that time in our lives when we realized that we are moral beings, and when we began to realize our own tendencies of evil. We become aware of what the Bible says, that “…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3.23). This week, we move on to what I call the Age of Vulnerability.
Listen to this description of the Age of Vulnerability, as it’s described in Gen. 3.17, 23-24: “[And God said to Adam] Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life.” Imagine that! That’s like having a boatload of money and living on top of the world, and then, losing it! You then find yourself living under the steps of a burned out, condemned, abandoned building, burning scraps of wood in a barrel in order to keep warm! One day, you are in an Eden world, and the next day you are out in the real world! As a consequence of their disobedience to God, all of their lives, Adam and Eve were forced to scratch out a living from working the soil!
In this real world, outside the Garden of Eden, there is a 1% and there is a 99%, and those of us who live among the 99%, live with some sense of vulnerability! We have to make a living! We have to pay rent, or pay our mortgage! We have to pay our taxes! We have to put food on the table, and clothes on our backs! And though I, like the large majority of those of us who know little of the Great Depression, most of us know how fragile and vulnerable our parents and grandparents were as a result of that Great Depression! Many in today’s world experience some of that vulnerability; not everyone has a job; not everyone has benefits; some people lose both their jobs, and their benefits.
But we are vulnerable in lots of other ways; living in the real world outside the Garden is a scary place! The Bible warns us, in I Cor. 10.12-13, to not feel too sure of ourselves: “Therefore, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall. No temptation has taken you except what is common to humanity…” There is no time in our lives when we do not need the mercy and grace of God in our lives! During the Age of Innocence, we may have been unaware of it, and likely took God’s goodness for granted; during the Age of Discovery, were smacked with the reality of our own “nakedness”, so to speak, before God; we were exposed for who and what we really are, and we discovered our need for the forgiving mercy and grace of God. And as we live in the real-world Age of Vulnerability, we are constantly aware of our need for the sustaining mercy and grace of God for all of life!
Thankfully, God gives us that sustaining grace for living life in the real world outside the Garden, and He assures us with this word: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” II Cor. 12.9 Paul says essentially the same thing in Rom. 8.38-39; “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.”
Growing up people, need growing up grace!