I was excited! I had finally made it to Athens, Greece. The airport was a bit of a surprise, it was rather 80’s looking, a bit gray and not too high tech, with just a few art pieces on display , but oh, who cared, I was in Athens! My friend and I stepped out of the airport and into a waiting cab, sat back and prepared for a short drive to the hotel. The cab driver had a distinctly greek nose, and what he lacked in English language skills he made up in confidence. Unfazed by bad grammar he talked and drove, talked and drove. The expected 30 minute drive per our research turned into a 45 minute drive, with sights at some points, starting to look suspiciously familiar. Eventually we got off the highway and started the drive into the city. Again I was excited, I was about to be immersed in ancient history and culture and ….. Graffiti??!!
Yes graffiti. We drove down one street, it was everywhere, then the next and the next, the graffiti did not end. My friend and I looked at each other, it was clear her thoughts were the same as mine, surely the hotel was not here ? She decided to speak up. ‘ excuse me’ she said interrupting the cab driver ‘ what kind of neighborhood is this ?’ His response was’ oh it's a good neighborhood’. Again we looked at each. She gave it a second try ‘ sorry but is this a good neighborhood ?’ His response this time was curt, less friendly. ‘ yes it's a good neighborhood’ he said. And with that we had arrived at the hotel. Although the cab meter read thirty five euros he told us to pay 45 euros. We tried to argue but to no avail, apparently in Greece fares change and become flexible with darkness. He then gave us some friendly advice, we were to negotiate cab fares before we got in the cab in the city of Athens.
The hotel turned out to be a pleasant surprise, shiny modern black tiles and glass surfaces. And we had another surprise the next morning . What had looked at night like rough, graffiti filled streets, turned into a rather friendly, bustling city, with shops on whose hangers hung flowy skirts and dresses, and it was also a very short walking distance from parts of the preserved old ancient city of Athens. Yet still the graffiti was a clear interruption, it loudly displayed itself, sometimes in the most unexpected places, even on buildings that looked old and historic. Greece had gone through an urban, modern revolution. Shock was my first reaction, then that turned into sadness. I began to wonder what those architects and artists would have felt had they seen that graffiti covering their creative works ? Graffiti, Boldly sprayed on the beloved works of their hands.
Have you ever wondered about the feelings of the greatest artist that ever was and that ever will be? Whose works of art prove the inadequacies of human languages to describe. Yes God the original artist, the creator. Genesis 1:1-5 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
And in this manner with the creative power of his voice God creates in six literal days the world we live in, each day marked by an morning and an evening. But on day six God did do something so tender and personal. Genesis 1:26-28: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And in genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Not with his voice but with His hands he molded you and I out of the dust of the earth, part by part even our toe nails, yes even that little nail on your pinkie, then came very close and breathed His breath of life into our nostrils and so we became living souls. Indeed we are wonderfully and fearfully made. And so Even when we turned each to his own destructive ways, He never could forget the works of His hands, the very pinnacle of His creation. And so He came down and died on a cross to redeem the apple of his eye, you His child.
So how do you think he feels about you, whom he created by His hands then redeemed by his blood ? He cares deeply, in fact the bible says His very spirit is to dwell in us;
1 Corinthians 6 19-20, 'Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s'.
Could it be by how we treat our very bodies ( I have done my share of self pollution) whether it's in what we eat, or what we feed our minds or by what we we wear that we could if not careful be covering the much beloved works of God's hands with Graffiti, graffiti on the image, the very likeness of God.
I held the microphone up to my mouth and prepared to answer. I angled my head and puckered my lips, in what I imagined to be a thoughtful, maybe even humble position. I was going to say something I was sure they were all waiting to hear. After all, who wouldn’t want to hear what I had to say? I was a critically acclaimed, brilliant writer, with several best-sellers and another, much awaited one, in the works. Words like ‘creative genius’, ‘never a dull moment’,’thrilling’, ‘page-turner’, went hand in hand with my works. I was ten years old. I wanted to be famous.
I remember one time hearing my mom call out my name, her tone sharp and jarring. I looked up, she was standing in a muddy puddle, looking rather furious. I had almost completely drenched her with water from the waist down. Somehow I had turned, with a watering hose in hand, caught up in another daydream, and began to water her and not the vegetable garden.
Do you ever wonder what Eve was daydreaming about when she ended up too close to that tree? You know, yeah, that forbidden tree in the book of Genesis. One minute she is minding her own business and the next she is engaged in a deadly conversation.
“Now, the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’? And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die’. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”
Well, that didn’t take much. One conversation and it was done. Why was it so easy for the serpent to convince Eve? Let’s be fair to Eve for a second, though. The offer was epic. To be like God! And well, also, she was not there when God created that tree, so maybe the tree preceded God and that’s how God had gotten His powers.
One wonders, however, whether this desire suddenly sprung up in Eve’s heart as the serpent talked, or whether it had been simmering in her mind for a while. God is famous. He gets all the worship. I want to be famous too.
I don’t know about you, but I fall into temptation if I have harbored and nurtured a particular thought for a while. I will have primed myself for a fall.
Back to Eve. Engaging in the conversation with the serpent, at all, was a bad move; but I do wonder why – once she was already engaged in it – why she didn’t ask the snake to prove his claims by it, the snake, eating that ‘super-fruit’ and becoming god. After all, according to the serpent, the fruit of the tree made gods. Now, that would have been something if even a creature she ruled over could become like God. Greater proof should have been warranted.
After all, God had been nothing but, to say the least, nice to them. He had given them a garden and had them rule over it. God was a friend who walked and talked with them, and I’m sure His presence was a sweet one. No sadness, no tears, just joy. Yet, God did not even get the benefit of a doubt.
How sad for Eve, because the consequences were brutal, for her, and for all of us. Now, does this mean desiring fame is wrong? No, not all the time. We just need to make sure we are desiring to be famous in the right kingdom. Moses was famous. But what was he like?
“Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.”
Abraham was famous. How was he described?
“So then, those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham”.
Abraham was a believer.
How about Job? He was so famous that there was a conversation in front of the whole unseen world about Job. How was he described?
“Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’”
In fact, I am sure you have heard people say Hebrews chapter 11 is a Hall Of Fame. If not, take a look.
It seems to me that these men were first and foremost famous with God, their aim was to please God, not men. They genuinely reflected God’s character, they kept his commandments.
God hates evil. He is always right doing, and God is, yes, humble. Matthew 11:29 says “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”.
Are you seeking fame in the right kingdom? Or are you priming yourself like Eve to be easily deceived, while seeking fame in all the wrong places?
Recommended additional readings:
Genesis chapters 3 and 4.
Ellen G. White’s Patriarchs and Prophets, chapter 3.