Sunday, September 6, 2015

Loved Dust

Back in Genesis 1 God gave us an overview of the big picture of His creating all of this. There, Moses went through what happened from one day to the next of that first week. Genesis 2 also looks at God creating things. But it does it with a different focus. Genesis 2 just looks at what happened on the sixth day. And that’s where we are going to be for the next couple of sermons. The particular part of day six that we will be looking at this morning is the creation of Adam. This is how Moses put it.
Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. Genesis 2.7
The first thing that I want you to notice is how different this sounds in comparison with what we read in chapter one. Back there, what we have repeated over and over is, ‘And God said, “Let there be …”’ God created simply by speaking. But that’s not what we read here. Why is that? God could have just said, ‘Let there be Adam’, and there would have been Adam. But He did it differently. Why? You would do well to notice differences like this when you read your Bible.

What we have here is a symbolic act. God is saying something important by what He is doing. He does not use words to explain this. He just acts. Actions teach. Think about the pictures. So, Noah’s flood is a symbolic act. God is teaching something by doing that. He is returning the world to the very beginning where the waters covered the earth. In this He teaches that, in a way, He is starting all over again and that because of sin. A symbolic act. It gets more interesting when you ask yourself if it worked.

Think about when Jesus cursed the fruitless fig tree. People today find it confusing because they don’t see it as a symbolic act. Jesus is picturing the condemnation of Israel for its fruitlessness. This sort of thing happens a lot in the Bible. You should watch for symbolic acts.

So, God creating Adam in the way that He does says something important about Adam. God will create Eve differently, and that will say something important about her. But let’s stay with Adam for now.

So, what’s the lesson? What is it that God is teaching by creating Adam in the way that He does?

Well, what did God do? He took some dust from the ground and made it into a man. This actually says something rather significant about Adam. What is he but a bit of dust? That is what he was - and what you are: a bit of dust. And here’s one lesson from that. Humility. At the heart of humility is an accurate understanding of yourself, of who you really are. You are a bit of dust. And, really now, what can you expect from dust?

Now, believe it or not, this is very freeing. When you see yourself in this way, you come to understand your limitations. To be sure, there are things that you can do. But it is just as sure that there are things that you really can’t do. And this has so much to say about expectations. There are way too many people who are slaves of unreasonable expectations, expectations that come from themselves and from others. And so, they push and push themselves trying to meet all those expectations. But what are we? We are bits of dust. We have limitations. Living wisely is being able to see the difference between the things that we can do and the things that we can’t - and being content with that. You are bits of dust. That’s reality. Live accordingly. Live wisely.

Now, there’s more to what God does than just pick up some dust. Remember that God could have just snapped His fingers, and this bit of dust would have begun his life. But He didn’t do it that way. He 
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
This is another aspect of this symbolic act of creating Adam. So, what’s going on here? This is what one person said.
‘Breathed’ is warmly personal, with the face-to-face intimacy of a kiss.   
So, picture a father leaning over a crib to gently kiss his sleeping, newborn child. It’s a picture filled with tenderness, affection and oh so much love. It’s a picture that says, ‘You are mine. You are important to me. And I love you’. This is God’s attitude to every person that He’s ever created. ‘You are mine. You are important to me. And I love you’. Grasping this bit of truth is huge. It makes life worth living. Would to God that more people believed it.

Now, you have to put the breath together with the dust. The breath balances the dust. Sure, you’re a bit of dust with all the limitations that that has, but you are a loved bit of dust. Your Father, who has given you life, leans over to kiss you.  You are special to Him. There is an intimacy here that just doesn’t exist between God and any other creature - not even the angels. So, while this bit of dust has some serious limitations, that’s not a problem. The Father loves that bit of dust whatever it can do.

So, Adam could live well knowing who he was. He would know what he could do and what he couldn’t do. And he would work at what he was called to do with the assurance that whatever he did, he was loved. So, life for Adam was to be deeply satisfying and filled with happiness.

However, that isn’t how it worked out, is it? And the problem is obvious. Sin entered the world. And what a mess it has made.

So, on the one hand, how many don’t see that they are bits of dust with the limitations of dust. As a result, there is pride. ‘Look at me! Look at what I have accomplished!’ But it’s a baseless pride, an attempt to cover up the fear of insignificance, the fear of being a worthless nobody.

But then, there are those who think that they are supposed to be able to make those same kinds of claims of accomplishment, and so they push themselves to be able to do so. And they become slaves of their drivenness, trying to be what they have not been created to be. They don’t understand the freedom of realizing that they are bits of dust with particular limitations.

Then, there is the other side of the coin. Here are the many who do not believe that they matter, not really. No one loves them. No one cares. They are just a bit of dust that will be blown away by the winds of time. They do not believe what is a profound truth. They do not believe that their Creator loves them and longs to enjoy them and to have them enjoy Him. Yes, these little bits of dust are to be enjoyed by God.

So, one way or other, life isn’t what it was supposed to be for Adam and his children. It was supposed to be deeply satisfying and filled with happiness. Instead, there is so much frustration and stress, occasionally interrupted by fleeting tastes of happiness. Sin has entered the world.

But Jesus has come. He has come to rescue Adam and his children from sin and its sorry consequences. He has come to re-establish what was supposed to be, lives that are deeply satisfying and filled with happiness. And by the Spirit, that is exactly what He is in the process of doing in His Church. It is as we understand, deep within our souls, who we really are that our lives are changed. And what are we? We are dust. We have built-in limitations. Many of them are made worse by sin, but even without the sin, there are things that we simply cannot do. And as we come to believe that part of the truth more clearly in the details of life we are freed to live wisely. There is freedom in humility, in an accurate understanding of ourselves.

But at the same time, the Father has given us His breath of life. He has kissed us. We are so incredibly special to Him. And it is as we come to believe that part of the truth more clearly in the details of life that we will live each day with complete confidence because we will know without the slightest doubt that we are loved.

As these things happen, we will come that much closer to enjoying lives that are deeply satisfying and filled with happiness.

These are the things that you need to remember as the Spirit points out your sins so you can repent of them. He wants you satisfied and happy, living according to who you really are. Your sin gets in the way of that happening. So, don’t fight Him when He points it out. Repent of that sin and believe the Gospel. Believe that the Father wants you satisfied and happy.

All of this gives us a bit of a taste of what the age to come will be like. There will be no pressure to perform according to unrealistic expectations. We’ll know our limitations. We’ll act accordingly and accomplish much. And all of that without the stress of being driven. And none of us will doubt the deep affection that the Father has for us. That will simply be a reality that we all will know and relish down deep. Then, as we do what we are able to do, we will be deeply satisfied and filled with happiness. And we will enjoy all of this because we will know who we are. We will know that we are loved dust.

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