Growing up, Sunday mornings meant going to church. I loved Children’s Church as a child. We got to sing and have snacks and listen to stories about Jesus. One of these stories was the story of Creation. I loved to see the felt animals, fish and the trees go up on the flannelgraph board. Of course, Adam and Eve always incited giggles. We just could not believe that they were…naked! But the Creation story isn’t just a fun tale for kids or a story about history or science. Through Creation, we see a glimpse of the life that God intended for us to live. If we look closely enough, we can discover who God created us to be. We were created for a purpose and by design. In Genesis 1, we find that God created humanity in his own image. Maybe you’ve heard that before – that you were created in God’s image. But what does that really mean? When God created people, he placed certain longings inside of them. When people live into these longings, they become his image-bearers and are able to reflect God to others. He created us for:
- Worship– God created humanity with an innate capacity for awe and a desire to give our allegiance to something that is bigger than ourselves. Adam and Eve knew, without being told, that God was worthy of awe and allegiance.
- Authority– Humans were created with the desire for authority. God gave Adam and Eve authority to steward, shepherd, and move creation forward according to God’s wise order.
- Relationships– God created us for community with himself and with each other. In Genesis 2, God declares that “it is not good for man to be alone.” He created us for each other, to help each other, and to live in communion with Him together.
God revealed his perfect plan for us in the beginning – a life full of flourishing, wholeness, joy, and delight. But Adam and Eve chose another path through their disobedience in the garden. They chose to trust their wisdom over God’s. This choice allowed sin to enter the world. Sin makes us think we know better than God and we begin to follow our own path. Sin deeply distorts the longings God placed inside of us and vastly weakens our ability to be the image of God. We begin to give our awe and allegiance to lesser things as our worship becomes idolatry. We misuse our God-given authority. Instead of stewarding and shepherding, we become oppressors who, in our insecurity, make others less and push them down. Instead of living in holy community with God and others, we become exploiters whose primary concern is getting our own needs met.
I know this story is getting gloomy but don’t worry – it has a happy ending!
You see, even when humanity was at its worse, God didn’t give up on us. Theologian N.T. Wright explains that though God could have left us in our sin, instead He “roles up his sleeves” and enters the fray on our behalf. Jesus came into our world and bore witness to the truth of God’s story. Through His death and resurrection, He brought restoration and reconciliation. Through His work on the cross, Jesus renewed our trajectory toward the life He first intended for us. Here is where we find our purpose. God’s desire is for us, through the empowerment of His Spirit, is to give our allegiance to Him and be His image-bearers to the community around us. As we reflect His loving nature to those around us, we can use our authority, not for oppression, but for stewarding resources and bringing justice and “rightness” to those who need it. We can invite others into authentic relationships with us as we point them to the good news of Jesus.
As we walk through the week ahead, let us ask the Spirit to help us reflect Jesus to those around us and to take bold steps toward creating and becoming the kind of community that God desires for us to be.