This should go without saying, but we must not pastor like Adam. It should go without saying, but because we live in a fallen world, and our hearts are prone to forgetting what we know, I need to remind myself not to pastor like Adam.
Adam Had a Charge
In Genesis 2, when Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden he was given a specific command by God. As the ‘priest and protector’ of the Garden (the dwelling place of God with man), and the one who had received the commission directly, Adam was to ensure that as he ‘filled the earth and subdued it’, those who filled the earth knew of this command.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17 ESV)
This was the command that he was to pass on faithfully.
Eve Uncovered Adam’s Failure
When Eve was tempted by Satan, she was questioned as to what God had ‘really said.’ When she recites the command of God to the serpent, she is off. She cannot cite the command verbatim, and her errors and omissions are telling. In her own words, the blessing of ‘surely eating’ from ‘every tree of the garden’ is minimized, as is the ‘surely’ of the death promised. On the other hand, the harshness of the prohibition is exaggerated: ‘Neither shall you touch it,’ she says, ‘lest you die.’
While Adam had faithfully passed on the gist of the command to Eve, he was not careful with his words. He had not questioned her carefully to know that she would be prepared for the test when it would come. He had not faithfully communicated God’s heart: God had desired their blessing and their joy, but Eve somehow received the message that God was against their joy. In her mind, he wouldn’t even let them touch the fruit.
The fact that Eve knew some of the right words but missed the point, and the fact that she knew the rule but missed God’s heart, reveals the fact that Adam had failed at faithfully introducing the woman in his charge to the heart of his God. The results were beyond tragic.
And I’m Right There With Him
Sadly, too many times I think I’m right there with Adam. Too often I am satisfied with making sure the people in my charge know the basics, without ensuring that they know God’s heart. Too often I can emphasize rules (which are good), but apart from a clear display of God’s heart which is for his people and their joy, people will receive rules as oppressive rather than freeing and joy-robbing rather than joy-giving.
So What Should We Do?
Personally, I’m going to take Adam as an example of how not to pastor. I’m going to labour to make make God’s word explicitly known. I’m going to encourage people to ‘store up his word in their hearts, that they might not sin against him.’ I need to emphasize far more God’s heart in the commands he gives (he is kind!) so that when Satan tells the people of GFC that God’s commands are oppressive, they’ll remember that he is actually protecting their joy rather than prohibiting it.
All that to say, I need to lead people to the gospel better. At the cross we see God’s heart: He gave his Son, what will he withhold? And at the cross we see God’s demands of holiness: If he gave his Son to make us his holy people, how could we be content with living like the world? And in the empty tomb we are assured: He who raised Jesus from the dead has worked his resurrection power in us to enable us to obey his commands, to delight in his commands, and to live for his glory.