Both Paradise AND Calvary, not either/or


“We thinke that Paradise and Calvarie,

Christ’s Crosse and Adam’s tree,

Stood in one place;

Looke, Lord, and finde both Adams in me.

As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face,

May the Last Adam’s blood my soule embrace.”

John Donne, Seventeenth Century Anglican priest and poet

This past Sunday was the First Sunday in Lent and our epistle reading was taken from Paul’s Letter to the Romans, chapter 5 verses 12 to 19. In that reading, St. Paul is writing about the “first Adam”, found in Genesis and the “New Adam”, who is Jesus Christ.

When he writes, “…finde both Adams in me…”, it seems to me that Donne is commenting on this passage from Paul and is accurately portraying the reality many of us struggle with, viz., How can we be people who seek to follow Jesus Christ and at the same time find ourselves stuck in situations of our own making that lead, not to life, but to death and sin? In that sense, as Donne writes, Calvary and Paradise are, indeed, in one place – our efforts to follow Christ, our lives of prayer, the ways we offer to serve and love God are reflections of His love. At the same time, when we seek forgiveness and reconciliation, when we acknowledge our need for a Savior, we are also on holy ground.

This season is one that calls for a certain amount of humility and self-acceptance. Yes, the good Lord can “find both Adams” in all of us – the good news is that Christ, the new Adam, has redeemed us, loves us, and continues to call us to newness of life and conversion. Where in your life do you celebrate and reflect the love of Jesus Christ? Of what area of your life is Jesus not yet Lord?

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