DUST and BREATH
There's a parodox in the Christian faith that has exsisted since creation.
When God created man He took DUST from the ground and then he breathed BREATH, which can also be translated as SPIRIT, into it and all of the sudden there he was, Adam. This distinction is made in scripture to give us a picture, to in some way describe who we are. There is two dynamics within man that create tention; there's this frailty, this weakness which is DUST and then there's this beautifully powerful and majestic life in us which is the BREATH or the SPIRIT of God.
I'm not a dualist.
This DUST and BREATH exsist hand in hand and are together the same but different... it's a paradox....
This description found in Genesis is not meant to be read literally... that's not the point... we're not supposed to read this to find out the scientific procedure of the creation of man rather we read this to understand what man is. If we come out Genesis 2 with nothing more than an explaination of how God made Adam we've missed a much more important point, we've missed the paradoxical explaination for the struggle within us.
Paul describes this tention in self expression He says:
"I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 But I can't help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things.
18 I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't. 19 When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. 20 But if I am doing what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it.
21 It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God's law with all my heart. 23 But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?* 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
I think we can all relate with Paul here, this sin nature is something we all have to deal with. I want to make it clear that sin nature is unnatural, it wasn't supposed to be there and it wasn't there in the beginning. We were created from DUST and sin came later... God breathed into it and never meant for the DUST to just be DUST. God meant for the DUST to be so much more.
I like how Saint Augustine deals with the "problem of evil" which helps us with this idea of DUST and BREATH. Augustine tells us that evil is really nothing, it was never created or concieved, Evil is actually the lack good... it has no substance but it's the word we place on things that are not good. DUST is kinda like that, when we let the DUST be DUST it's sin, not because the DUST is bad but because it's missing the BREATH, it lacks good.
There are places in us that we let sit as DUST. We allow it to stay dead and hidden from God. We never allow the BREATH to get there. And it's not only the hidden places sometimes it's even the places we know about and even talk about. I hear people say things like, "well, I'm just a sinner, I make mistakes." This is epedemic in the "emerging church." We're entrering an age where we can talk about our sin, which is amazing, but we can't stop there. We've found our brokenness, great, but we live in it. We don't talk enough about refraining from sin or beating it... we live as DUST.
We are soooo much more than DUST, we are soooo much more than just sinners. We are called and loved by God, we are free and we don't even realize it. God wants us to live like Jesus really died on the cross and defeated death. He wants us to let the BREATH go into the DUST. The DUST was never meant to just be DUST. "Our task," as N.T. Wright says it, "is to implement what Jesus already did."
God's trying to convice us that we are so much more than we think we are, we don't have to enslave ourselves any more, we're free. It's a Paradox; we're DUST and BREATH.
I think it's only appropriate to quote the SUPERTONES (and by the way the show was beyond amazing) "God look at me I'm just a man, but you tell me I'm not just a man, so hard to understand, afterall I'm just a man."