When it comes to the debate between Tonb and Peac (see my last post) I don’t believe there can be a winner. The parties are to entrenched. The talking points are too sharpened. It is like the abortion debate – both sides have their weapons refined; so instead of actually talking with each other and learning from one another, they just keep pounding each other over and over again.
I would like to propose that what this conversation needs is a fresh look. What if one were to go through the entirety of the Bible asking the question, “How does a follower represent God in the world?” What if instead of focusing on individual tress we were to step back and take in the forest? I think for some of us (myself included) it might be the first time we have ever done this.
Personally, I need it. So for the next several weeks (maybe months) I will be posting as often as I can, reflecting on Scripture with one question in mind – “How in the world are we supposed to be representing God?” or “What are we supposed to be doing?”
Before We Broke It
Before you can fix something you need to know how it is broken; so lets start at the beginning of the story and see what the world was supposed to be like.
When I read the opening chapters of Genesis there are a few passages that stick out to me that describe how things should be.
The first is Genesis 1:26-31. Let’s break this down one piece at a time.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over the all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Okay, let’s pause here for a minute.
First, notice that God is defined in the plural – “our image.” This is a God that exists in community. Our is a God was in relationship before we came on the scene.
Now look at how being created in the image of God plays out – “male and female He created them.” Being created in the image of God means being created in relationship.
Who were we created for relationship with? Well, I see three actors in this play so far: God, humanity, and the world. All in relationship with one another.
“…God blessed them…”
Okay, stop again. What is the first thing God does in the relationship? He blessed humanity. Think of blessing as “actively loving.” It is “love” as a verb.
…and then God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.
Now the relationships play out a little more. Humanity is to rule over the earth with the understanding that the everything on earth is dependent on the earth for life. (We will learn more about this relationship when we look at Genesis 2 next.)
…God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.
Rob Bell at Mars Hill gave a fantastic sermon on this recently. You can grab it on i-tunes. Instead of repeating it I will simply point out that God did not say it was “perfect” or “complete” or “finished.” He said it was “good.”
In summary, what was the world like before we broke it? We were created to be in relationship: relationship with God, with one another, and with the world; and these relationships were very good.
Next, we will see how Genesis 2 describes these relationships in more detail.