Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Genesis of the WHOLE Person

In the book of Exodus towards the end, we are given a glimpse of what it was like for God & Moses to hang out. Moses would go out to the Tent of Meeting most days, and the presence of YHWH would go in there with him. "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." (Ex. 33:11)

I often wonder what that must have been like.

The first 5 books of scripture were codified under the authority of Moses. In particular, Genesis, which pretty much summed up everything that had happened prior to Exodus, was compiled & finalized by Moses. This means that the three creation stories had their final edit by Moses himself. I can only imagine what God & Moses talked about as Moses scribbled away in that tent.

I would wager that Moses was the first human to have a full grasp of how God caused all things to come together. God probably told Moses about atoms & molecules, the speed of light, the invention of cheese, and ultimately how Satan would curse humanity with the creation of the cell phone. I would further guess that both YHWH & Moses decided that there would be no way that the ancient Hebrews would ever be able to comprehend any of it at that time. So, my thought is that the two of them figured "Well, let's just stick with a modified version of a poem and two parables to explain the creation of everything. They will certainly have a lot of depth, insight, beauty and deeper meaning to them. AND they will be a lot less boring than some technical manuel fit for Popular Mechanics."

God probably added; "Ya know, somewhere along the line there will be a few knuckleheads that want to take all three of these tales literally and miss the whole point." To which Moses may have said; "Naw, nobodies that dumb." God, who always gets the last word, snorts and snickers; "Ohhhhhhhhhh, just you wait."

And the modern world has screwed that whole thing up ever since.

Anyway, I thought that I would expand a bit on a paper that I wrote for a prospective employer recently. I'll edit it, but the gist of the whole thing revolves around an argument that can be made from the 3 creation stories found in Genesis 1 through 3. What I wrote in the paper will be in green lettering. I'll editorialize as I go along. The main point that I am trying make is we, as humans, are a special creation. Nothing else in all of the universe can lay the claim that it bares the image of God. Humans ARE "Image Bearers" of the creator, and that has connotations that can simply blow your mind. (It's quite a compliment, really.)

I apologize, because this will tend to be a bit long. Still, it's easy enough to read. Plus, I think it's worth it...in my biased opinion.

"...I want to take a look at three areas of education through the lens of the first two creation accounts in Genesis. I will touch on the areas of Civics, Ecology/Biology, and Art.

Civics: Where does the concept of basic human rights come from?

A Secular Humanist would argue that humans are basically good at heart, and therefore deserve human rights & protection. I would argue that from a biblical perspective, while human beings are neither good nor bad but sinful, we have great value in the eyes of God because we bare his image. Therefore human rights should be based on that concept.

  • In Gen. 1:26 & 27 God creates humanity in his image.
  • In Gen 9:4-6, even after the fall of humanity, the image of God is still to be found in all human beings, and therefore all human life is precious in God’s eyes. (To the point that according to Ex. 21:28, even animals who kill humans must be put to death.)
  • This is further reinforced by Jesus in Matt. 5:21-30 & 38-48. It can be rightly said that where as the O.T. prohibition against murder was to protect human life, the statements of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount were designed to protect human dignity.
  • Jesus states that we who get & stay angry towards another human, or dismiss them as either intellectually or morally inferior, are actually worthy of judgment and hell. (This encompasses all people, whether Believers or non-believers.)
  • Finally, New Testament writers reinforce this idea, such as in James 3:9, where James points out that it is wrong to trash-talk another man because he bares the image of God.

I would argue that this is a radical departure from the Social Darwinist approach of secular society, where human value is based on what you can produce and/or your position in societies’ pecking order. Finally, and I’m very serious when I state that this biblical perspective should cause all Believers to regard the homeless man, in all his ruin, as being more beautiful & valued in the eyes of God than Lake Superior on a summer’s day.

Needless to say, everything I just wrote is very convicting to me. I constantly seem to find ways to trash other people. Our recent congressional election is a perfect example of the ways in which we can rip each other to shreds verbally. I got caught up in making fun of a rather famous Congresswoman from my State who I have a hard time respecting...or thinking that she should NOT be put in a rubber room with other crazy people.

My friend pointed out to me that she is a Christian. (She says so, anyway.) He also pointed out that the way I was talking about her was not very Christ-like. And he was correct. I should not speak that way of someone who bares God's image...even if they drive me nuts.

Ecology/Biology: How should Christians approach the environment?

Many in the environmental movement argue along an almost “Pantheistic” line of “Caring for Mother Earth.” (And it’s a sad fact that there are statistically more Atheists involved in serious environmentalism than people who identify themselves as Christians.) I have no idea how this area became so politicized, because I would argue that “Creation Care” is a divine mandate that should be taken seriously.

  • A part of being made in the image of God is that humans were given responsibility & stewardship for God’s creation. Specifically, this can be seen in Gen. 1:28. The Hebrew words speak of acting as God’s representatives in his creation.
  • God’s creation was never intended to be static and unchanging. Instead, his creation would continue to create more of itself.
  • In Gen. 2:5 & 15, humanity is given responsibility to participate as God’s co-workers in his creation. In fact, the Hebrew words in verse 15 Avadh (“To dress.”) and Shamar (“To keep, guard & protect.”) reflect that precisely.
  • Through out both Leviticus & Deuteronomy, God ordains various ways in which animals and plants…and the earth in general, are to be respected and protected. Humans were placed at the top of the created order, but that is because we bare responsibility towards creation because we bare God’s image.

To sum it up, I will shamelessly steal a quote from Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention in his biblical response to Earth Day from April 23rd, 2010. In his treatise he wrote; “The creation belongs to God. As stewards of His property, human beings are responsible to him for developing and protecting His creation. Furthermore, while God clearly grants preeminence to human beings in His creation and human life demands reverence as created in His image (Genesis 1:26), all life deserves respect. We have the right to use animals and plants for human good. We do not have the right to disregard living things or to treat them as inanimate objects. We have the right to domesticate and raise cattle and other livestock for human sustenance. We do not have the right to act in a callous, cruel or cavalier manner toward any living creature.”

Art & Human Creativity: I know that much of this will be a bit of a stretch theologically, but I truly believe that in a “General Revelation” sort of way, humanities’ desire for creative expression can be rooted in being an “Image Barer” of God. (I’m not sure if there actually is much in the way of purely secular arguments for where our desire to create comes from.)

  • Going back to Genesis 1 & 2, humans are made in the image of God. We obviously do not look like God. (I would hope that God is considerably better looking than I am, at any rate.) But a part of being an image barer is that we have many of his attributes.
  • What is one of the very first attributes that we can see in the God of the Bible? He is a generous creator. In fact, it appears that he enjoys creating so much that he keeps telling everyone how good the things he creates are.
  • When he creates humans, he instructs them to go out and not only re-create themselves, but “to take care of/DO SOMETHING” with his creation. In fact, the very reason that he creates humanity in the second creation story is so that we would be gardeners & farmers.
  • This leads me to believe that all those folks who can’t wait for Spring to show up so that they can putter around in their gardens, growing all sorts of odds & ends, sculpting various designs in flower beds & shrubs, are merely doing what God hard-wired us to do. We desire to create!
  • If this is true, then it would explain why humans desire to be creative in all aspects of life. It isn’t enough for us to merely recreate ourselves by having babies, or by growing flowers. There is a deep impulse to express ourselves, and our individuality.
  • This would lead me to understand why I can see the hand of God behind not just a tree, but also in a painting by Monet, a sculpture by da Vinci, or sometimes even a Beatles song...or Neil Young... actually, especially Neil Young!

While it is certainly true that much of what people create is not very God-honoring, the artistic expression that stems from God should not be dismissed out of hand. I am more and more convinced that when a person, even a non-believer, is being creative, that it is God who is knocking on the door of their hearts. And I am further convinced that those who reject Jesus will have their very creativity stand as a testament against them on judgment day.

Well anyway, that's a big chunk of what I wrote. I would really enjoy any comments that a reader could give.

The point that I am trying to make is that you & I, and every single person that walks the planet was created in the image of God. You are not a random accident of the cosmos. You are made with a purpose and deeply loved by the God who made you. You carry his imprint with you where ever you go. You don't deserve his love or favor, and you could never, ever earn it. But he loves you regardless because you carry his likeness deep within your very essence.

All the running around that we do, trying to fill a hole in ourselves that only he can. Let all of that go and just return to where you were supposed to be all along. Let him worry about the details. He can handle what ever embarrassing junk you bring to him. God is the only one who can help you live up to the potential that he has put in you long, long ago. It's an adventure that you won't regret.

It's just a thought.




  1. Well done. I like your thoughts Joe. It makes me want to change my lifestyle. Thank you :) Peace!

    1. Well, that was a blast from the past. :)

    2. I have to say, reading this again, you have one of the coolest last names I have ever come across...and I have little idea how to pronounce it.