Embracing Creation: In The Beginning - Genesis 1:1-5
Age old questions…Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which is it, creation or accident? For those of us who hold God’s Word to be sacred and relevant to our lives, we have the answers, found in Genesis 1. The chicken came first…for on the fifth day “…God said, “…let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” Animals were brought forth during the time of creation, then they, imitating the creative process of God, gave birth to more animals. It makes sense that living creatures would come first, for if eggs and embryos came first who would warm the eggs or carry the embryos until they hatched or broke forth from the uteri.
Yet before and beyond the humorous chicken versus the egg debate is the ongoing debate of creation versus evolution, creation versus the big bang, creation versus accidental masterpieces…. I think it is simple to rule out the accidental masterpieces, for it is pretty difficult to believe that things as intricately precise as the living creatures of the world we live in, including we ourselves, are accidents in the same way that the old commercials suggested the creation of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups came about.
However, other than dismissing the “accidental theory,” we have to understand something about our Scripture. The Holy Bible, regardless of translation, is the inspired Word of God, revealing to us the nature of God and all that is necessary for salvation. It serves as a guide for our faith, and leads us in the practice of that faith. However, it was never written to be a science book, not should be made to be a science book. It states our belief about creation, but does not negate science, it compliments science and science compliments Scripture. Some arguments we get caught up in are not even necessary arguments, even considering Scripture. Some folks get caught up in whether or not life as we know it now happened over the course of eons or 144 hours. Does it matter, is knowing that essential to our salvation, especially when we have Scripture passages like Psalm 90:4: “For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night” or 2nd Peter 3:8: “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.”
As far as the argument of Creation versus the Big Bang…there is no argument. When out of the silent empty chaotic dark of nothingness God said, “Let there be light,” and BANG, there was light, there is no argument. What kind of explosion goes through your eyes when you open the exit door to leave a dark theater, or walk into a totally dark room in your house, especially if you have just woken up, and flip on the light switch. The flood of light into your eyes and brain is just overwhelming. Not convinced? Then how about the sound accompanying a flash of lightening in the darkness of a chaotic storm. I am not saying that the “Big Bang” is the way creation came into being, I'm just saying that I can't imagine any bigger bang than God saying, "let there be light," and then suddenly it was there-there may be some points of contention between faith and science, but this doesn't have to be one of them.
So if we are not supposed to read the Creation story as a scientific report, what do we do with it? We examine what the biblical account of Creation says to our faith...and there is plenty there. Today we begin a series entitled Embracing Creation that actually sprung from my devotional reading, not from Genesis, but actually from Romans, which will come into play next week.
There are two other things that have occurred since God placed this series on my heart that make it extremely relevant. One occurred this past Monday, Earth Day 2013. Yes, Earth Day didn't just happen, it was already planned, as it is every year, but, unfortunately it is not something I keep on the top of my calendar. It is a day that reminds us to care for this spinning blue and green ball that God has placed us on.
The second is from an exchange that has been going on between a couple of pastors in our county. One pastor in our county sent out an appeal to the other pastors in the county. His concern was that the company responsible for disposing of waste from the sewage treatment plant, was spraying it on land across from one of our elementary schools in the county. Since the spraying begun, that school has been marked by higher than average absences for students and staff sure to illness. He was calling for a suspension of the disposal of the waste in areas near schools or other populous areas. Another pastor wrote him back a scathing letter telling him to leave him out of all future liberal nonsense. He said as a pastor his concern was for saving those children's souls, not their physical health. Now if that response doesn't outrage you as a Christian, then we have completely missed the point of Genesis 1.
However, before we get too holier-than-thou on this pastor, we have to check our attitudes about God's creation. How often do we look at the trouble of this world and think, well that's okay, one day were going to leave this world so it doesn't really matter. Maybe it's pollution we look at that way, maybe it is injustice we look at that way, or maybe it is our tendency to look at our own troubles and feel that way. We comfort each other with words of, "one day well leave this world," we pray for God to take us out of here, and we sing songs with words like "My heart can sing when I pause to remember...this troubled world is not my final home," and (one of my own old favorites) "Some glad day when this life is o'er, I'll fly away."
What's the problem with all of this? With all of this focus on getting our souls out of this world, it leads us to have less concern about the world we live, and in many ways a disregard for God's Word and what God told us through Jesus Christ.
Listen again to the words of creation:
"And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good..."
"And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good."
"Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good."
"God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars…to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good."
"So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good."
"God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good."
"Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground...God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day."
So considering God's Word...as we hear these words of creation...rather than it being a silence lesson...What does it teach us with regards to our faith?
First, it tells us that God is our Creator. We are not random accidents, we were not created in some lab, we and all the world were given life by the very One whose voice called everything into existence.
Secondly, and most importantly, as God looks upon Creation and places a value upon it, He doesn't look at it as a temporary place that is bad and his newly created people would soon escape from. He looked down upon Creation and five times declared it GOOD...and then surveying it in its completeness...He doesn't declare it trash...He declares it to be VERY GOOD!
"We get that pastor...but that was before The Fall and everything went south...creation list is value to God when Adam and Eve sinned. That's when it became time to focus on some afterlife and getting out of this world. Besides what do you mean to focus that way is to d disregard God's work in Christ?"
Turn with me from Genesis to the Gospel of John.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us...For God so loved The World that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved."
God through Jesus came not to condemn the world and save humans, Jesus came that the world...the entirety of Creation might be saved. Good, in taking on our human flesh in Jesus, instead of just sending His Spirit to communicate with us declared that this flesh and bone matter that we inhabit was of great value...not something totally corrupted that we are supposed to escape from. God, through Jesus, began the process of restoring Creation. God doesn't call us to seek to escape it, but as His beloved Creation to embrace it.
As we begin to understand the implications of Embracing Creation, let us sing...
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost…
As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever will be…
World without out end…
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit...Amen.