Not long ago I was dealing with a particularly thorny issue at work (I’m an academic administrator), one that drained me of much mental and emotional energy. I had to negotiate a conflict between two persons (both of whom are godly) who had hurt each other’s feelings. These situations are the most difficult parts of my job.
The situation resolved itself well, but I was grieved at how commonly we find ourselves hurting others, especially Christian brothers and sisters. Our best intentions go awry, and we find ourselves wrecked on the shoals of broken hearts. In a flash, I realized that these situations are rooted in the Fall itself.
I’ve decided that we give short shrift to the Fall. We think about it abstractly most of the time, talking about “lostness” and “salvation” and other important theological terms, ones that bear importantly on eternity to be certain, but I suspect that we also forget about the everyday concrete realities of the Fall.
I re-read Genesis 3’s description of the Fall and the subsequent curses that fell on us all. Except for the few farmers among us, we read verse 19 (“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were taken”) and we think that it is a declaration that has long since lost its teeth in the real world. Most of us no longer till the soil, especially in the West.
The reality, though, is much of our time, energy, and resources are spent dealing with the effects of the Fall. The hardest part of our jobs, often, is that of dealing with interpersonal conflicts. The most draining elements of family life are those that involve the lasting echoes moral and spiritual failures. The largest portion of our taxes is spent trying to contain the wars, poverty, and lawlessness that fill the earth. At the conclusion of most days, we have indeed found our brows to be sweaty as we have taken our daily bread into our weary, dusty mouths.
In the end, when I ponder the utter sickness of the fallen world, I can’t help but breathe a longing plea: Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.