Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church

Tough Choices

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7

Our story this morning is about making difficult choices... in this case... Adam's and Eve's choice in the Garden of Eden. It's a well known story... even the children could stand up here and tell the story of how Eve was tempted by the serpent... and made the fateful decision to eat the forbidden fruit.

We could talk this morning about sin... and forbidden fruit. Goodness only knows that's a fascinating subject... especially if we can focus on the other guy's sin! But... if you listen to the news... you've already heard plenty along those lines... maybe more than enough!

It might be fun to talk about what a fool Eve was... and how she brought Adam down to her level by enticing him to eat the forbidden fruit too. It's always a temptation to find someone to blame for our bad choices. Or we could talk about the lack of backbone exhibited by Adam when he followed Eve's example. Talk about being lead around by the nose!

How many of you find it difficult to make decisions... especially when you have several options? I thought so... a sermon about making decisions would be a lot more helpful than any of the above!

Well, in preparing this sermon... I had to make a decision... and I've just outlined some of the options I had to consider! So how did I make my decision? Well... first of all... I have a goal... a point I want to make... a place I want to reach... an end toward which my efforts are being directed.

I'll have to admit though that sometimes my goal changes as I go along... I can't seem to resist the Spirit... and that's OK too. But in general... I kind of know where I'm going with the sermon! Whether we actually get there... or not... is another question.

I read once that Christians without goals are like Alice in Alice in Wonderland... when she comes to a junction in the road that leads in different directions, she asks the Cheshire Cat,

"Cheshire-Puss... would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to go to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where," replied Alice. "Then it doesn't matter which way you go."

Goals are important... aren't they. How many of you use your goals to help you make good decisions? Have any of you had the experience of reaching your goal... and then found that you felt kind of aimless for a time after that?

I have a sneaking suspicion that humans really need goals... at least it seems that we are born with a need to achieve. It's natural for babies to learn to roll over... to sit up... to pull themselves up... and eventually to walk. If they don't seem to be progressing toward that goal fast enough... we get worried... and we coax them along. Goals and development seem to go hand in hand... we must have a goal toward which we aim in order for development to occur.

Two other important concepts we need to consider this morning are purpose... and passion. Is there a reason for living... for working... for being here this morning... and are we enthusiastic about it? Charles Kingsley suggests that "we act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about." What are you enthusiastic about? Is there any excitement in your life?

Well... while you consider that question... let's return to our story about Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. You know... that garden must have been something else... it was planted by God himself... and it was pleasing to the eye... and good for food. Beautiful... and productive... and it was home to Adam and Eve. It was Paradise to them... and God give them a purpose... to work in the garden... and take care of it. That's all they had to do... but it wasn't enough! They needed a goal... and the serpent made a suggestion... why not become like God? That's a worthy goal... isn't it? To know right from wrong... to have the knowledge that God possesses? Why not eat the fruit... it sure looks good... and gaining God's wisdom... who could resist such a temptation?

Edwin Friedman says that

"Genesis tells us that the three attributes of God are his omnipotence (all powerful), his omniscience (all knowing) and his immortality. These are the attributes which distinguish God from us. When we're tempted to take on any of God's attributes, we violate the limits of what it means to be human."
And yet... that continues to be the goal of humanity in general... and of you and me in particular. We want the power... and the knowledge... and the immortality that belong only to God.

So how could Eve have made a better decision... how can we make better decisions in our lives? What is our purpose? What should be our goal? What is there to get excited about... to work toward... to give us satisfaction and fulfilment?

When I was a kid... I attended a Christian Reformed Church... and I studied the Heidelberg Catechism. Now I don't remember much of what I learned so many years ago... at least I don't remember the exact words... or even the questions... but I do know what I believe... and the catechism had a lot to do with embedding that belief into my very being. I do know that I belong to God... I am not my own... and that there is a higher purpose for my life than simply to be a worldly success. By the world's standards I'm pretty pathetic... probably by most Christian standards I'm pretty pathetic... but what I'm really concerned about is God's standards for me and for my life.

Another thing I know is that my purpose in life is to be God's hands... and feet... and eyes... and ears... to see and hear and do what God himself wants done. As Micah puts it so beautifully:

... to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
I'd like to suggest to you this morning that our purpose and our goal in life is not to be more God-like... but to be more Christ-like. We already have all the God-likeness that we are ever going to have... we have been created in his image. What God expects of us is to be more Christ-like as we live out our lives here on earth. You see... Jesus came not only to save us from ourselves... and our warped motives... but also to show us what our lives can... and should be like.

He knew about our temptations... we heard that story this morning too. He wanted to satisfy his personal needs... he wanted to protect himself... he wanted to be somebody in this world... just like you and me! How did he decide what was OK and what was not OK? Jesus put his life into the hands of God... his decisions were based on his trust in God's loving care... that in the end... all that really mattered was his relationship with God.

How are we going to make decisions... especially when faced with temptation? Let's put our trust in God... and remember our purpose in life... to serve God by caring for his creation. Let's put our trust in God... and remember our goal in life... to be more Christ-like in all that we do. Let's put our trust in God... and live our lives for God with a passion! Amen.

A Sermon Preached on February 21, 1999
The Rev. Shirley R. Frazier
Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church, Arabi, LA

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