“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace." (Ephesians 1:7 NIV)
“Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9 NIV)
Some have interpreted this as a harsh call – the call of a parent whose child has wandered away in the shopping mall without permission. Certainly, when this call from God to Adam (and Eve) in Genesis 3 occurs, there was trouble afoot. Something had changed.
Each day Adam and Eve would run out to meet the One who was heard “walking in the garden in the cool of the day;” but on this day they were hiding (Genesis 3:8). The abundant trees of the garden, given by God for shade, food, and beauty, on this day became veils of fear and shame.
There was silence, except for the rustling sound of footsteps and the gentle voice of God experiencing His creation. God speaks: “Where are you?” He calls out to His daily companions, perhaps less like an angry parent and more like a disappointed friend who has grown accustomed to walking and talking with those He loves. It is as if God is saying, “Why aren’t you here? Where have you gone? Why have you missed this blessed opportunity to be together?”
Of course, the answer soon becomes clear. They have disobeyed. On top of that, instead of confessing to the God who created them and loves them, they hide. Then they blame. Adam blames both Eve and God (“This woman, whom You gave me...”), and Eve blames the serpent (Gen. 3:12-13).
Sin is a terrible thing. It separates us from each other, from the rest of creation, and from God. It pulls us away from the community that God intended for us to be a part of and casts us into the mired depths of selfishness.
But thankfully, God does not simply keep walking past us, despite our sin. God stops and calls out to us. This is grace.
In fact, John Wesley called this prevenient grace, grace that “comes before.”
In essence, God’s decision to stop and call out to Adam and Eve is a constant theme flowing through Scripture that demonstrates the heart of God’s redemptive plan for all creation. God speaks first and calls out to us in grace. And when God calls, there is an opportunity for either confession or for blame.
At the heart of Wesleyan theology is a God who leads with love – a God who “speaks first” when we are tongue-tied and ashamed.
Perhaps we can pause at the beginning of this week, even if we are hiding something from others or even from ourselves, and recognize that the voice calling us out of hiding is calling not to condemn us, but to redeem us. He will not pass us by. He will speak first and call us toward confession, repentance, and ultimately, redemption.
Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.