The Saturday Morning Syrup Monster

After Adam and Eve fell, sin spread rapidly throughout the world. By the time we get to Genesis 6, it’s everywhere. But why? So Adam and Eve made a stupid decision. The rest of us didn’t have anything to do with it. We weren’t even there. How could that one decision possibly have had such a devastating effect on the world? It just doesn’t make sense.

A question like that doesn’t have any easy answers. But in the next two posts, I’d like to explore a couple of different answers. In this one, we’ll look at the face that sin spreads throughout the world at least partly because we spread it.

One of the highlights of the week for my family is pancake Saturday. The girls love getting up in the morning and playing with dad for a while so mom can get a little extra snooze time. Then we head for the kitchen to make the pancakes. Heat the water for mom’s tea, get dad a cup of coffee, set the table, and we’re good to go.

Then it happens. Every week. The Syrup Monster.

I can see it sitting on the table, looking all innocent in its clear plastic home. But I know the truth. I know that it’s just waiting for some unwitting victim to open the cap, releasing its corrupting power into an unsuspecting world.

You doubt? Try it. Give small children something sticky to eat. Pancakes with syrup. It’s amazing. A few drops of syrup on the table. The monster unleashed. A tiny hand carelessly placed. Sticky fingers. The corruption begins. But it’s far, far from over. Sticky fingers in the hair, on the face. Sticky fingers on the butter container. The butter passed. More sticky fingers, dad’s now. The monster spreads. By the end: sticky forks, sticky plates, sticky glasses, sticky chairs—even sticky cats. The monster grows. It’s everywhere.

I’m pretty sure its nefarious plan is to take over the world.

And it wouldn’t be very hard either. One hand to the next. With each touch its power grows.

In 1918 a flu pandemic swept around the world. In two years, it spread even to the most isolated places, killing 50 to 100 million people and infecting many more.  Almost no one escaped its touch as it moved from one person to the next. Even those who looked perfectly healthy, may actually have been infected, carrying the virus with them, spreading it to everyone they met.

The Syrup Monster is like that. That’s what makes it so devilishly clever. It doesn’t actually do anything. It just sits there. We do all of the work. We pass the stickiness along, corrupting others and extending its power. If we wake up one morning and the Syrup Monster has taken over the world, it will be our own fault.

Sin spreads throughout the world because we spread it. We spread it through our families, friendships, and every social structure that we create. Sin spreads because it is now part of the grain of the universe, the context that shapes us from the very beginning. Growing up in a sin-soaked world, we become carriers ourselves, sowing corruption as we go.

[This is an excerpt from a book that I'm writing about the gospel, Good News for the Living Dead: A Fresh Take on the Gospel Story. You can read the other excerpts and keep track of new ones as they become available on my blog.]