I have a print of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling artwork hanging on my wall. It’s the scene they call The Creation of Adam, and it shows God’s hand reaching out towards Adam’s. The details are interesting: God’s hand is stretched, making an effort, while Adam’s is limp and apathetic. But while the details of the image stir up a lot of reflection, they aren’t the main reason I bought it at IKEA a few years ago. The basic idea of the whole thing is what really gets me: God is making Adam alive.
I like this because Adam isn’t Christian or Evangelical or American. He predates all of that. He transcends all of that. His name can be translated “mankind,” meaning in some way his story is our story. All of ours. And in reaching out to Adam, God isn’t making him a denominational convert or asking him to sign a 10-page doctrinal statement. He’s simply giving him life.
Later in the Bible, in the New Testament, Jesus and Adam are lined up in a few passages, and the writers say that Jesus is a second Adam of sorts. This helps me, because if Jesus’s story has something to do with Adam’s story, then Jesus’s story might also be bigger than a Christian story or an Evangelical story or an American story.
I was praying recently, or at least I was trying to pray, and after struggling for a while, I expressed something to God that was true and from my heart:
I don’t want to be a Christian; I want to be a human.