Since man’s fall and expulsion from the garden of Eden, we have been working to recreate our own Eden. Eden was the best God had to offer. It seems that everything mankind wanted was offered in abundance, but man and woman did not overindulge, because they were most satisfied in complete fellowship with Him. This was shalom, or peace. It was perfect and fulfilling. Mankind has never ceased searching for it. We are born with a desire for peace, and many of us will spend a lifetime trying to attain a false peace found in the lust of the flesh. We believe that excess is the answer.
I recently returned from a study tour in Israel. There was something interesting about the Hebrew communities that had been excavated. They were modest, simple, and appeared to be just enough. During our study we also visited a couple of Roman cities that were excavated. These were two of ten cities known as the Decapolis. The Gentiles in these cities worshipped pagan gods. When we approached the capital of the Decapolis, Beth She’an, we were in awe. Cameras came out immediately, and we gawked at the huge columns made of marble, paved streets, the theatre, spas, gymnasium, and the shopping district. As we walked through the ruins we could see temple after temple constructed for their many gods. The Romans had anything they could ever want. They had it in excess. It has been said that Jewish sages believed if the garden of Eden was in Israel then its gate was here. This was Roman shalom.
Our Rabbi asked us, “What could Jesus and His disciples possibly offer these people that they didn’t already have?”
We rattled off as many answers as we could but never satisfied our guide. He easily argued that whatever we offered, they had more, and it was bigger and better. We wrestled with this for the rest of the day until we visited the other Decapolis city in Israel called Susita (Hippos) and became reacquainted with the demon-possessed man from Mark 5. Here Jesus casts out a legion of demons into 2000 pigs. Once the man was in his right mind, he wanted nothing more than to follow his Healer. Jesus tells him in Mark 5:19, “Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.” Scripture says he “began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.”
Here was our answer. What could the disciples offer these people that they didn’t already have? Their story. And like the demon-possessed man, each of us has a story to share of how much the Lord has done for us and how He has transformed us from what we were.
It is human nature to search for peace. We usually find it in temporary ways. We work hard to gain things or status. We marry and remarry in search of happiness. What we are looking for is something eternal, something that is renewed every morning. We look in all the wrong places.
The world will continue to search for Eden. They will never find it without hearing your story. Lasting peace comes from walking with God. Although Eden’s gates are closed, God made a way for us to walk in peace through a relationship with Christ. So “go back to your own people and report how much the Lord has done for you.”
Carrie Hunt lives in Orange, Texas, with her husband, Newly, and two girls, Eden (5) and Salem (3). Serving as Small Group coordinator at her church, Bridge Point Fellowship, she focuses on equipping leaders with the practical skills of discipleship and encouraging parents to teach their children how to be followers of Christ in the home. Carrie’s blog, Restoration Family Fun, offers a steady stream of ideas and lessons for fun family faith talks. You can follow her on Twitter at @carriebakerhunt.