Tomorrow night, the opening ceremonies for the 23rd edition of the Winter Olympics will be held in Olympic Stadium in Pyeongchang (South Korea). (Which will mean productivity around the globe will drop dramatically for the next three weeks as the world will be glued to their television sets watching amazing athletes accomplish feats normal humans can’t even do in their dreams.)
However, just showing the Games won’t be enough for NBC, the primary broadcaster for the Winter Olympics in America. NBC producers know interest in the Games will be high, but to help interest go even higher, they will tell stories. Over the next three weeks as you watch these winter sports, you will see brief documentaries and interviews with athletes and those who know them. In doing these story segments, NBC hopes you will gain an affection for these athletes, making you want to pay even more attention to your TV (so their advertisers will have a bigger audience!).
But oftentimes, for a story to be interesting, there has to be a “bad guy.” Sometimes, in an athlete’s story, the “bad guy” is an accident that had to be overcome, or some tragedy from the past, or even just battling self-doubt. But a handful of times, the athlete’s “enemy” will actually be a human, whether a coach who was against them or their nemesis out on the athletic field who bested them.
The Gospel Story is no different. The Gospel has a bad guy. But it might not be who you think it is.
The Gospel on the Ground – Part Deux
We are walking through a series on what Matt Chandler, in his book The Explicit Gospel, calls the “Gospel on the Ground” – God, Man, Christ, Response. Last week, as we kicked this series off, we saw that the Gospel starts with God. Which means this week, we get to move the second part – Man.
If you are familiar with Genesis chapter 3, and I asked you to tell me who the bad guy in the story is, you would probably say, “Satan.” And to a degree, you would be right. Satan took on the form of a serpent, began a conversation with Eve, mislead her into doubting the goodness of God, and tempted her to eat of the forbidden fruit. Everything Satan did was to thwart the perfectness of God and His plan. Without a doubt, Satan positioned himself as the enemy of God.
But I want you to realize that the Gospel on the Ground is not “God -> Satan -> Christ -> Response.” The real bad guy in this story isn’t Satan – its humans.
Think about it. God didn’t give the one command to Satan. He gave it to Adam (see Genesis 2:15-16). Had Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat, but they not given in, the story becomes vastly different. The perfection of Creation crashes down not with the words of Satan, but the sin of Adam.
Sometimes, I make the mistake of seeing Adam and Eve as victims. I momentarily think they were tricked into eating the fruit. But that’s not true. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2:14 that while Eve was deceived, Adam was not. Adam knew what he was doing was wrong – and he did it anyway.
In other words, Man is the bad guy in the story.
The Apostle Paul says it another way in Romans 5:10, calling us “enemies” of God. We were completely set against God. That’s why King David says in Psalm 14:1-3 that no one is righteous, that all have turned aside from God.
So yes, Satan is God’s enemy (and therefore also our enemy because we bear the image of God). But when Adam sunk his teeth into the forbidden fruit, he switched his allegiance, believing Satan more than his Creator, and thus with one bite, he became the bad guy in the story.
But the Gospel story is a bit different than most stories. Normally, the bad guy needs to be conquered to provide the happy ending we long for. And while Satan will be vanquished, the bad guy of humanity isn’t defeated. Rather, Mankind is forgiven, freed, and restored.
And that’s what we will get into next week.