Sunday we started our new series with some time in the beginning: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image… (Genesis 1:26)
Genesis 1-3 gives us a picture of humanity that has tremendous explanatory power. First, we see that you and I are divine beings, created for communion with the divine in a divine paradise. This explains a great deal of our attributes, aspirations and desires.
Yet we know far too well another side of ourselves.
Through the temptation in the garden and the introduction of sin into our world, we have become spiritually dead. We are alienated from God and frustrated in our desire to find satisfaction in the pursuit of earthly meaning and pleasure. In 2018, we can all agree with Blaise Pascal:
“What kind of freak is man? What a novelty he is, how absurd he is, how chaotic and what a mass of contradictions, and yet what a prodigy!”
This explanation of our humanity provides tremendous comfort for those familiar with the heart-wrenching crookedness of life. This is a comfort because it tells us that the great heights of our aspirations and the depths of our desires mean something. And it tells us that frustration, the heartache and the agonizing questions we experience through our pain mean something as well. Our painful experiences feel crooked. Because they are crooked.
The first thing we must see in order to understand and accept the Biblical explanation of human suffering is that we matter. Our suffering matters.
Our suffering matters.
The second is the painful realization that the greatest crookedness in our lives is our own hearts. This is a difficult pill to swallow, but only once it is down will we be able to grasp what the Bible is going to tell us about our suffering.
We are going to bring doubts and questions to God through this series, but we are going to do it in the spirit Solomon recommends for those who have shared in the ruin of the paradise we have been given:
Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
Questions from Genesis
There are a lot of questions that come up from a reading in the first chapters of Genesis. We did not have time to address them, but I wanted to pass on some resources for those of you who have some questions.
Do I have to believe in an actual Adam, Eve and temptation in the garden to be a Christian?
This article from Tim Keller explores an important question by looking at the overall context of the Genesis account in the Bible.
Is there evidence for a literal Adam and Eve?
This short video is an introduction to the work of Dr. John Sanford who has studied the data in our genome and the implications in that data regarding our human ancestors.
Isn’t the whole story of a talking snake ridiculous?
You’ll have to listen to next week’s message for that one!
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown