Sunday, July 5, 2015

Creatures

Wisdom is understanding God, understanding yourself and understanding other people. This morning we're going to spend a little time looking at the second of those three. I want you to get to understand yourself a little better. So, I'm going to point out one basic thing about you. And I'm doing this because it's too easy in this culture to forget this one basic thing. It’s clearly expressed in Genesis 1, but it's the kind of thing that you can read past and not see as clearly as you need to. So, first, a few verses from Genesis 1.


Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. (Genesis 1.26-29)

This is the familiar part of the creation story where people show up. There’s a lot here, but the thing that I want you to see today is simply this. You are a creature. God made you, created you. That makes you a creature. It's this basic fact about you that I want to take a look at.

So, what does it mean that you are a creature made by God? Well, one thing that it means is that God made you with a body. And what a body. Have you thought about the things that your body can do? It can walk. We're so used to that that we miss the wonder. Do you know how complicated it is to walk, to balance everything on a foot, and then push off from that foot so that the other foot can continue the process? God created you so that you can walk.

Then take a look at your hand. There is strength in that hand, strength to grip heavy things. And yet, you can also gently hold onto a toddling child without squeezing so tight that you would hurt him. With some training you can take the fingers of your hand, run them over a piano keyboard and make beautiful sounds.

You also have eyes. With these you get to examine the world around you, the face of someone you love, the tiny detail of some picture. And oh, the colors.

And if you can believe it, God has created you so that, in some mysterious way, you can make another creature, a person, a baby, who will also have a body with hands and fingers and eyes and more.

But you're not just a body. You are also a soul. There is that invisible, untouchable part of you that God created into you so that you can relate to Him and to other people around you. Because of your soul you can draw near to others in ways that are more than just physical. With your soul you can think and feel and figure out how to pursue a goal. And that explains why the ability to make a baby is so mysterious. Along with a body, a baby also has a soul. How do we make that part of a baby?

God has made us as His creatures with bodies and souls. He has given us those bodies and souls so that we can do some work, some important work. He has called us to use our amazing bodies and our mysterious souls to develop creation, to improve upon it. He has called us to take bits of creation and invent things. And we have. We've invented all sorts of things: roto-tillers, refrigerators and rocket ships. He has called us to develop skills in understanding what He has made. And we have. We understand clouds and sea horses and atoms and embryos. He has called us to learn about these things and then to pass on what we have learned to others. And we have. God has given us the task of adorning creation. He gave us that task when He blessed us with dominion over His creation.

Now, be careful. He did not make us little gods when He gave us dominion. We are to exercise our dominion but we are to do that as creatures, creatures under His authority, creatures who are to exercise this dominion to please Him. And to remind us that we function in this way as creatures, God gave us food. Every time you sit down to dinner it is a reminder of your creatureliness. You are not God. Only God has no need of anything outside Himself. You are a creature. You need things like food and water and air and sleep and lots more. God has blessed you to have dominion but you are to exercise that dominion as a creature, a creature under authority and with the goal of pleasing your Creator.

In giving us all of these things God has made being here worthwhile. He has given us a way to enjoy a full and satisfying life. And the fruit of such a life? Awe. Praise. Devotion. The fruit of all of this is worship.

This is who you are, and this is why you are.

And this, of course, is where the problem shows up. We have exercised dominion. We have invented things. We have developed skills. We have understood much and have passed on what we have learned. But we have failed to do these things in the right way. We have not remembered that we are but creatures. We have tried to live as if we were gods. We have sinned. And because of that God has removed His blessing and cursed us instead.

As a result, what we oftentimes see and sometimes experience are diseased bodies that can no longer walk, arthritic fingers that can neither grasp nor make those beautiful sounds, eyes that need a lot of help just to read the plain print of a newspaper and precious babies born in ways never intended.

We also witness souls that are all twisted up. They still relate to god, but it's not the God of the Bible. Rather, it's the idolatrous god of fame or success or pleasure or something else. And these souls do relate to other people. But they do not draw near to them, but rather try to use them.

And the result of all of this? It's not the enjoyment of a full and satisfying life. The result, at one point or other, is frustration and a weariness with being here. And there is no worship of the Creator God.

What have I done? I've described what ought to be and what, in contrast, is. And 'what is' seems nothing like 'what ought to be'.

So, what do you do with all of this? To be sure, there are those who ponder the way things are and who then despair. And there are also those who try to ignore it all and press on as if everything is fine. Don’t fall into either trap. Instead, you need to acknowledge the brokenness of creation and its creatures, but you need to do that in hope. After all, Jesus has come. And He has come to take this broken place and the broken people who inhabit it, and completely renew it and them. He has come to re-create a new heavens and a new earth. And He has promised you a place there.

So, remember who you are. You are one of God's creatures. And His intentions for you are the same today as they were when He said, 'Let us make man in our image.' His intentions still involve a body that is beautiful in what it is and in what it does, a soul that draws near to Him and others, work that is fully satisfying and lots of worship of the amazing God who created all of this. That is your future. Jesus has come.

All of this explains what I’m getting at when I talk about repenting and coming again to Jesus to be forgiven and to be changed. What I’ve told you fills out what we repent of. It's not just that we did some bad thing. It's that we, in some way, rejected the role of being a creature. And it's not just that we want Jesus to change us so that we don't do that bad thing anymore. It's that we want Him to re-make us so that we will live as creatures. This is what being a disciple is about, learning to live as creatures. And the fruit of this kind of living is coming to increasingly enjoy a full and satisfying life - and lots of worship.

When Jesus returns all will be restored. Then you will live the way that you were intended to as creatures of God.

While you wait for that day, remember those around you. Remember the saints who are struggling with some aspect of being a creature that isn't working the way it's supposed to. Reach out to them. Speak encouraging words. Remind them of the hope that awaits. Tell them again about Jesus. And pray that they will be encouraged enough to persevere. Also remember those who aren't saints. Many of them also struggle with some aspect of being a creature that isn't working the way it's supposed to. Reach out to them. They also need to hear encouraging words. Tell them about Jesus. Without Him there can be no encouragement. Without Him there can be no possibility of a life that works the way that it's supposed to. Only He can restore people to living in the way they were created to live. Only He can renew them as creatures.

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