8/11/19

Lily Tomlin once said, “I’ve always wanted to be somebody, but I see now I should have been more specific.”  In The Mask Behind the Mask, biographer Peter Evans says that actor Peter Sellers played so many roles he sometimes was not sure of his own identity. One day a fan asked him, “Are you Peter Sellers?” Sellers answered, “Not today!” and walked on.  Renowned artist Paul Gustave Dore (1821-1883) lost his passport while traveling in Europe. When he came to a border crossing, he explained his predicament to a guard. Dore hoped he would be recognized and allowed to pass. The guard did not recognize him and said, “All right, we’ll give you a test, and if you pass it we’ll allow you to go through.” Handing him a pencil and paper, he told the artist to sketch several peasants standing nearby. Dore did it so quickly and skillfully that the guard was convinced he was indeed who he claimed to be. His work confirmed his word!  In a world where others will tell you who you are if you don’t already know, who you are, what or who defines you – your identity?

The 6th most important Instant Replay Bible story is the story of creation found in the first 2 chapters of Genesis. (We don’t have enough time to add the fall of creation due to Adam and Eve’s sinful disobedience but we could add that to the mix.) The creation story has been one of the most puzzling, inspiring, confusing and inspirational stories in the Bible.  It answers numerous questions while at the same time raising countless unanswerable questions.  The creation story is our story.  We claim it. We recognize it. We rely upon it.  Yet, there is a strange mistiness about it every time we read and reflect upon the story. Let’s look at 7 reasons (one for each day of creation) that the Creation Story is so important to 21st century Christians so we can better understand our true identity – a beloved child of God!

1) The creation story reveals our identity. Everything that is, was made by God on purpose for purpose.  We are not an accident; we are part of a divine plan.  Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are lovingly made by God and everything belongs to God.  We are God’s and of priceless value.  The crucifixion of Jesus reveals just how valuable we are – that he would shed his blood and give his life as a ransom for our redemption and salvation.  We’re priceless!

2) The creation story reveals our purpose. Humanity is the crown of creation. The creation story doesn’t end until humans (female) are made.  (Ch. 2 details day 6 of creation) Humans were given something more than anything else in creation: the image of God. Humans were also the only part of creation given a purpose: to rule over the created order (to care for the garden). We are the only thing created that was blessed and the only thing that received the “breath” (ruah) of life from God. (Soul)

 3) The creation story reveals our loving God. God created everything out of nothing. God also loves his creation enough to care for it after being created.  But within the broad descriptions of each creation day, attention given to the details of what the completed creation would need: light; water; land; time; reproducing plants and animals; gardeners; sustenance (food). Everything was created before the humans so that creation was ready in advance of their appearance.

4) The creation story reveals God’s graciousness – Eden.  Jewish scholars believe that Mt. Moriah (Jerusalem) is the location of God’s creation action. Yet, in the midst of creating everything good, God creates a place that can only be described as “extra-good” and called the place Eden which means delight or pleasure.  Just imagine that in God’s eyes, the brand-new and “good” creation wasn’t good enough for the humans.  They needed a special delightful place.  Isn’t that God’s workmanship even now?   It is enough that God created everything good for us – and then added Eden; it is enough that when humanity sinned that God did not destroy them, but clothed them and kept them from access to the Tree of Life so they wouldn’t live eternally in sin.  It isn’t enough that Jesus saved us from our sins, but through him, we also have abundant and eternal life – now and later.  That is the way God has always acted toward humanity – grace upon grace upon grace upon grace!

5) The creation story reveals our need for relationships.  We are made to be in and to crave relationships.  We first need a relationship with God – the source of our life!

Secondly, we need to have relationships with one another too.  In fact, our relationships with each other builds us up, strengthens us when we are weak and fulfills our need to care for, care about and love others as we have been loved by God. This was, and continues to be, the intention of our Washed In Love carwash mission day.  Originally, we decided to do something to help Julio Melara finance his kidney transplant. Since then, we have reached out to others who needed our help.  We help because we’re made to care and made to help others in need. Finally, we also have a relationship with creation and the created order.  Humanity was tasked with the responsibility of tending the garden, overseeing the animals and caring for creation.  We still are.

6) The creation story is a picture of eternal paradise.  The Garden of Eden seems to be the place God created to enjoy eternal relationship with the created order.  But sin destroyed the original plan. When we look at the Bible to see what heaven is like, we don’t get a fully detailed picture, but we do get a similar description of a new and perfect world with a special place called the New Jerusalem (City of Peace, Completeness or Wholeness).  Perhaps we will learn more about heaven by looking at the creation story than trying to discover the mystery of Revelation.  Without a doubt, the original creation will be the basis of the new creation and once again God will establish a place of peace with God whom we will see face-to-face forever.

7) The creation story calls us to enjoy a restful relationship with God.  The most important day of creation was not days 1-6, it is day 7.  God finished creating and blessed that day and rested from work.  It was a day devoted to enjoying God’s own creation – it was designed for God and for humans as well – as if God is telling us, “Let’s stop working and enjoy time together!”  This is the basis of resting in God, of our worship, our devotion and our faith – to be with God. The greatest threat to our faith may not be the devil, but our own inability to stop working for God that keeps us from enjoying a personal relationship with God.

The reason that the Creation Story is the 4th most important Bible Story we want to watch again is because it tells us our story and, in a world where others will tell you who you are if you don’t already know, the Creation Story gives us our true identity: made by God!