WHAT DOES THE CREATION STORY TELL US?
This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on October 12th, 2014. To listen to the audio, just click on this link – Gen 1.
If we can put aside the Creation/Evolution debate when we look at Genesis one, we see three things which are being said about God.
- God is creative.
- God is an investor in human potential, and
- God appreciates and enjoys the creation.
These are foundational statements about God–the first things said about who he is. They should form our basic or starting opinions and understandings about God. At the same time, these foundational understandings of who God is have profound implications for who we are made to be as spiritual people. We are vitally connected to the Creator as those who are his creation–not only physically, but spiritually.
God is Creative.
The First Thing About God: The first and most foundational thing that the Bible ever says about who God is, is that he is creative–endlessly and brilliantly creative (Gen.1:1ff). God is not creative because he is in some way lacking, he is creative because he loves to create.
What we see happening in Genesis, God’s method, is that He creates and then he fills. So God creates light on the first day–but the light bearers he creates on the fourth day, fill and fulfill the purposes of the light God created. God creates sky and sea on the second day–but the birds and fish that fill them he creates later, on the fifth day. God creates dry land on the third day–but the animals on the sixth day.
The Spiritual Implications of God’s Creativity: This way of creating is not just something God did way back when and then he went on to do something else. Genesis is telling us something crucial about who God is–what he is like–what he does in our lives.
God, who created all that is (regardless of how he did that), also creates spiritual life in the soul. Genesis, I think, intends for us to understand and make this connection. God creates spiritual life or “awakening” and then develops that life–what the NT refers to as “zoe”–which is life, not only of body, but of spirit–wholeness of life. God fills that life/that awakening with truth and mission and praise and hope and love.
~ God’s Creativity is Very Good: It is clear from Genesis that God creates diversely, abundantly and beautifully. Again and again, God proclaims the creation to be good–good in what it is (e.g. the physical world is beautiful, powerful, sustaining, full of resource and order). Consequently, we should have an expectation that, what the New Testament describes as “The New Creation,” should follow along the same lines. in other words, we should expect that God would be creating in us–moving us toward a spiritual beauty and power and order in our living and speaking and in the way we come to understand life.
~ God’s Creativity Points to a Larger View of Spirituality: Without this basic understanding of the spiritual life, the expression of our faith becomes primarily negative–saying “No” to what is evil. While this is an important part of spiritual living. A definite turning away from what is toxic, evil, selfish, false is necessary and crucial, but it is only a part of what it means to be a spiritual person.
Obedience and life are also New Creation–a sensitivity to what God is doing in our hearts (attitudes and orientations) which affects all our lives. Christian writers have described this as the unfolding of the person God made us to be. So that part of what it means to know God is to be asking (through prayer and listening) what God is wanting to create in us.
God is Investing.
God Invests in Human Beings: The second thing we see happening, beginning in Gen.1:26, is that God takes everything he made and gives it as a gift to human beings. God gifts his own image–his likeness to human beings (male and female), and then he tells them to subdue and fill this new creation. In other words, rather than keeping what he just made to himself and protecting it from outside influence, God gives this very good Creation to others to care for.
Spiritual Implications of God’s Investment:
~ The Image of Creativity: There has been a lot of ink spilled about the meaning of “the image of God.” However, in the context of Genesis one, that image is creative and good. God creates diversely, beautifully, abundantly, and in an orderly way, that which is very good.
So it makes sense that God, having given the man and woman his image, would then command them to fill the earth: a reference to their physical procreating abilities to be sure, but obviously also much more than that. The next time we see them (Genesis 2), they are in a garden, developing, cultivating, growing, creating, enjoying.
Spiritually, what is being said about human beings who are in the image of God is that they themselves are made to express God’s image and reflect his character by being creative in the many ways God made them to be creative. Our creative impulses and ventures, in themselves, bring glory to God.
This means that there is something profoundly spirituality about the creative ways in which we live and express our lives that are good (not necessarily religious). Doing math, playing a sport, ordering a household, teaching a class, cutting hair, developing a property, raising children–when done in a way that seeks to express creativity, care, love, truth–brings honor to the Creative God whose image we are. Creative life is, in itself, a spiritual pursuit in which we either imitate or reject the nature of God.
~ The Authority to Develop: The image of God is also, obviously, about authority. God commands the man and the woman to subdue the earth. He gives them gifts and then says to them, in essence: “You decide what to do–how to develop these gifts. They are yours.” God gives the humans authority over everything. God wants them to develop and unfold the world. It is the best possible gift, not a wearisome task, but the ultimate permission to do the very thing they want to do.
From a spiritual standpoint, this is shocking! Under God, we have authority–the authority to take the gifts we have been given and to decide for ourselves how they are to be developed. Obviously we would not want to develop them without reference to God and what is right. And yet that gift is never recalled even after mankind falls.
God is Appreciative.
The Sacredness of Appreciation: After God creates everything he rests (Gen.1:31-2:3). He does not do this because he is tired or needs sleep. Instead God stands back, looks creation over, sees that it is very good, and sets apart a day just to look back on it, enjoy it and think about it. God sets this day apart as a day of appreciation–a time to stop working, to consider, to rejoice over his creative work. This taking-in of what he has done is pure enjoyment. It is his appreciation. It is his rest.
~ God is An Appreciator: What is being said about God is that it is his basic/foundational character to appreciate the unfolding creativity of what he has made. That creativity in action includes your life–that unfolding of the person you were created to be. God loves that! God has put his life-gift in you–entrusted you with it and delights in what your life is becoming. This is foundational to who God is and it does not change. God made human beings is to delight in their creative, unfolding lives.
~ The Rest of Appreciation: Part of being those who know God and who bear his image is that we also live and develop most truly when we set apart sacred time to appreciate what God has done, and is doing, in us. Without this sabbath, or sacred rest, life becomes a rat race. In the absence of looking back at our lives in their creativity, and the recognition of what we have been entrusted with, life becomes flat and lacks real meaning.
In light of this it is clear why Jesus said to the Pharisees, whose view of Sabbath was enforced inactivity, that “Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man.” Jesus truly understood that, unless people have a time of sacred appreciation in which they can revel in the delight of God over their creative ventures, in which they can recognize this creative, entrusting, appreciating God, that they would never find rest and joy in life.