Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Since January, we've been slowly (oh so slowly) working our way through the first few chapters of Genesis. At first the going was almost painfully slow, because there was so much in each verse -- sometimes each word -- to be wrung out of the text. And that makes sense. You see, we have a view of reality that is different from God's view of reality. So when we start reading the Bible, it's going to take a lot of work, a lot of thinking, a lot of learning to see things differently. Eventually we start to see that our assumptions don't match up, and we learn to see things -- at least in some small measure -- the way God sees them. So we accept some difficult truths, like the following:

  1. God is. Genesis never argues for this fact or proves it, it's just there. God exists. Deal with it.
  2. God creates. This gives God rights and authority over creation. (Difficult Fact: This creation includes us. God has authority over us.)
  3. Creation is both intricate and good. God says "it is good" over and over and over.
  4. We humans are in some way the part of creation most reflective of God. There's lots of room to think and learn and grow into what it means to be "created in the image of God" but that's what we are.
  5. We are created for relationships, both with God and also with each other, and with the rest of creation.
  6. God provides for our needs -- not always our wants -- by positioning us within creation. God uses natural processes (like the growth of fruit trees) to provide for our needs.
  7. There is a tempter, one who entices us to depart from fellowship with God. He is sneaky and bad and for some reason God allows him a certain amount of freedom.
  8. Given half a chance, we will go our own way, make decisions that seem sensible to us but contradict God's direction.
  9. The consequences of this self-will are devastating. To wit: We lose fellowship with God. We become aware of our vulnerability and don't trust God to protect us. We strive to protect ourselves. We blame others for our issues. We hide from the truth, from other people, from reality, and from God. We experience brokenness in our relationships and in our work.
  10. God covers our shame, but this covering requires sacrifice and bloodshed.
  11. God's covering does not solve the problem of sin. Sin continues to multiply and in the next generation it gets worse. It leads us to the belief that I can please God by my actions, by my productivity ("Cain" means "productive," remember?). When our willful productivity fails to please God and get us what we want, we lash out.
  12. Murder begets murder.
  13. External solutions -- even to the extent of the destruction of creation -- do not solve the problem of sin. It is an internal problem, internal to us, and we can't simply be washed clean. Not even in a big boat full of animals.
In Genesis 3-11 we see a constantly widening pattern, like ripples expanding on a pond. The consequences of our rebellion expand and expand. This is not a theory like the idea of an expanding universe -- it is observable fact. Pay attention the next time you lose your temper, and watch how that little thunderstorm in your heart blows up and affects the world around you. Or think about the last time you chose to be less than truthful about a habit, an activity, an indiscretion. Your secret lie has power that affects your heart, your surroundings, your relationships.

Next time we're going to see this alienation spread not just between individuals, but between language groups, between peoples. Sin is spreading. Where will it stop?

Hang on -- God has a plan. It's coming. Trust. Wait.

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