Lectionary Reflection for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Genesis (BTCB) by R. R. Reno, commenting on Genesis 2:18-24:

All of us feel the divine pronouncement “it is not good.” We can walk a beautiful beach or hike a stunning wilderness path, but even as we rejoice in the natural beauty, the canker of unmet desires and unfulfilled hopes irritates and intervenes.

People make mountains of money and surround themselves with every good thing, and still the human heart will not rest. Our children are charming and successful, but we nonetheless pine for what they are not. We look at our no doubt imperfect society, but instead of sober criticism, we rise up in moral indignation and denounce it as corrupt.

At every point, we come up against the limitations of reality, and rather than appreciate the finite goods we truly enjoy, we rebel. The lure of something greater, the attractive possibility of more, the shadows of things not only set right but fulfilled—we gaze upon that which God creates with a dissatisfaction that we cannot understand and cannot justify, but nonetheless feel too strongly to deny or set aside.

The atmosphere of felt incompleteness is not unique to the Gen. 2 creation account. It runs throughout scripture. The sense of incompleteness is a function of the substantial purpose of self-donation that God has in mind “in the beginning.” Things exist for the purpose of being brought into the Sabbath rest of fellowship with God. For this reason, the scriptural witness is structured by a movement from very good to better still. All finite existence is complete and good on its own.

But when that existence is brought into relation to the infinite existence of God, it becomes supernaturally incomplete; it becomes palpably “not God.” For this reason, creation yearns to be more than itself—to be no longer itself, alone, and without fellowship with God. This is especially true for human beings. The most teachable of animals, and therefore the most plastic and changeable of creatures, we feel the alluring possibility of moving from what is very good to something better still. Because we sense what we can become, we regret what we are not.

©2010 by R. R. Reno. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.