Riddle: What was the first thing God created?
Tag Archives: creation
[Mankind is created in God's image. Yesterday I wrote a bit about how we have authority on earth -- just as God has authority over all creation. Part of the idea of imago dei* is that we, like God, were created to rule. This is often offered as the primary way in which we are made in God's likeness (because the Genesis text puts the two ideas next to one another).]
I want to offer another way in which we are created in God’s image. And I think it has just as much biblical backing as does this idea of authority and dominion over earth — maybe more.
When we read the first chapter of the book of Genesis, we find a God who is creating. He creates the heavens and the earth, and everything in them. And God works this creation in such a way that there exists a harmonious community. Then God calls his creation good.
I believe God (in the Bible) reveals himself to us in exactly the order he desires. And the very first thing we learn about God is that he is a creator of good things, a designer of community, the grand architect of all the earth.
And we are created in his image.
At the point in which we learn mankind is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), what we know most about God** is that he creates good things. Mankind is part of his marvelous creation, but even more we are the portion of creation intended to ourselves be creators.
The idea is hinted at in Genesis 1:27-28:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”
Immediately upon being formed, mankind is told to be fruitful. Man and woman are created — and are then commanded to continue creating. Have you ever wondered why (nearly) all people in all cultures have such a drive to procreate?*** It’s just an assumption that a man and woman will be together and produce children. I believe this is the image of God firmly imprinted on us.
But our role as creators goes so much farther than merely having children. As we become more like God, we create communities which in turn shape other communities. We create lives of obedience to God. We design ministries, and we produce good works. We fashion opportunities to share God’s love with others. We build peace and harmony where they were once were not present. We glorify God by creating kingdom places in a world that is broken. We create in order to restore our world to goodness.****
And our creation is good.
I’d go so far as to argue that this act of creation is the very work from which we are to rest on each Sabbath. Quite possibly creation is the entire point of the Sabbath. It’s not that I set aside one day of each week to serve and worship God. But it’s that I set aside six days of my week to serve him by creating what is good — and one day to relax, look back on it all, and proclaim that it is indeed good.*****
Only in recent history have Christians not been among the greatest of artists. How incredibly sad is that? Consider the stirring of hearts made possible by the magnificent paintings, sculptures, and music created throughout church history. We are by nature artists — just like our God. And we think so little on this idea today. [I will not insert here any complaints about the overall quality of the Christian music industry -- but I just barely was able not to....]
How many of us go to work every day, come home, eat, and go to bed — only to do it all again the next day? If you look back on this week (during the coming “Sabbath”), will you be able to call what you’ve accomplished good? Have you managed to do more than pay your bills or get your kids to school on time? Why do we spend whatever free time (and money) we have consuming all we can — whether it be food, internet, movies, technology, or books?
I wish I were more creator, and less consumer. What about you? How does the imago dei play out in your life? What are you creating?
* Just a fancy way of saying “image of God.” Unless Latin is your first language — then imago dei is just the regular way of saying it. Of course, that would also make you the oldest reader of my blog — or of any blog. And it would make you one of the few readers of my (English) blog who are not reading in their first language. Kudos to you, old guy.
** Almost all we know.
*** The word itself says it all.
**** This idea of creating in order to restore our earth to goodness fits very well with the idea that the imago dei involves rulership of the world. Responsible stewards of God’s creation will create goodness in the world given to them.
***** I’d argue that you can’t actually experience Sabbath without first having taken part in creating that which is good.
image courtesy of ecosherpa.com
[This is the first post in a series on famous exchanges in the Bible. There are more to come.]
A: Yes, I’m sure, woman. That’s the one. The tree we’re not allowed to eat from. How many times do I have to tell you?
E: Okay, so you say this is the one. But do you really think it’s that big of a deal? I mean if The Almighty really didn’t want us eating strange apples from this one tree, don’t you think he would have told me about it, too? Why are you the keeper of all commands? The guy who goes to the grocery with a list that reads milk, eggs, and People magazine — and comes home with a box of ice cream and 8 Totino’s pizzas. We don’t even have a freezer. Or an oven. And God chooses YOU to relay this monumental command to me and the rest of the world?! Are you sure it’s this tree, the one right here in the middle?”
A: Yes, I’m sure, Eve.* And The Great One picked me to tell because you weren’t around back then. You were yet but a sparkle in his eye and a rib in my endoskeleton. I’m telling you, we will die if we eat those weird looking apples. And don’t get me started on the supermarket thing. YOU were supposed to be MY helper — and here I am, being sent to the store for you… and sometimes for feminine products. It’s not right. It’s just not the way The Big Guy intended it.
E: Well, I don’t know… this talking serpent says we won’t die if we eat the kindaish-apples. Instead we’ll just get vast amounts of knowledge. We’ll know the difference between good and evil, Adam. We’ll be like God. Think of what we could do with all that knowledge — how good we could be at TicTacToe, how well our children could perform on their ACTs. They could go to college, Adam. At good universities. On scholarship. Lord knows we can’t pay for school with fig leaves and fruit. And Cain is really interested in a career in geology; shouldn’t we encourage him to use his love of rocks for good and not evil? And how are we even supposed to know the difference between the two without eating from that tree? See, we need to, Adam. We have to.
A: Uh… Eve, I’m pretty positive we’ll die if we eat the appley fruits from that tree. The Man Upstairs said so. And, although we don’t know exactly what this word death means, I think you’ll agree that it doesn’t sound like a walk in the garden. And, besides, what do we need with more knowledge and greater intelligence? Didn’t you hear me a second ago? I used the word endoskeleton.
E: Yeah. Impressive. Now I’m going to have a bite of this apple. Do you want me to save you some?
A: I really don’t think you should, Eve. I mean it’s not like he gave us all that many rules. We’re supposed to obey only two commands: this one about the peculiar apples and that other one to multiply and fill the earth — and it’s not like the second one’s a chore! Let’s just stick to the fruit we know and are allowed and commanded to have.
E: But I want to be sophisticated. Do you want any of this bizarre apple or not? [A crunch, followed by chewing.] Mmm… delicious.
A: I really don’t think this is a good idea, Eve. But, then again, I’ve read studies about the myriad family problems associated with wives having higher levels of education than their husbands. Hand it here; I’ll have a bite.
It was on this day that the people of God first exchanged obedience for knowledge. And it’s been one of the favorite activities of Christians everywhere since then.
See also: the smart young m.div. candidate and obedience and brushing.
* Fellow blogger Matt Dabbs pointed out just yesterday in this post that Eve was not given her name until AFTER the fall. I hope you’ll forgive me this inconsistency…