In the beginning God makes the heavens and the earth…the day and the night…the waters and the sky…the land and the sea…seed bearing plants and trees… “And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.’ 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”… and “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.’
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”…
God saw what He had made. It was good. It was very good.
Do you get hung up on the part, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”…and the part, “ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
I used to.
I used to think of God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit being three distinct entities.
But the Father; the Son; and the Holy Spirit are NOT .333 of a whole. All work together to accomplish the same thing…the Will of God. They work in different ways, depending on the need…but the “job” is done together, inseparably with the same goal. The Father initiates…the Son works to accomplish the Father’s will…the Son accomplishes this by the Power of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit points to the Son. The work of the Son points to the Father.
Consider what happened at Jesus baptism…at the beginning or “commissioning” of his ministry.
This is how it happened: “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
Jesus did it. In the flesh he went to the Jordan River and was baptized .
John was right…the “Kingdom of Heaven has come near.”…so near that the world could never be the same. It was so near…that it was right upon them.
“ As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
All three together. As it is and as it was and how it always will be.
And we are a “likeness…a representation…a resemblance…” to God?
Or at least that was how we were made. That is what we were meant to be…
So what happened? How did we get so far from that ideal?
Well, we know we got kicked out of the perfect world and perfect relationship…because of choice.
Yes, it was the wrong choice…a bad choice…and it seemed to ruin everything for us. Even today we believe that we are ruined…that we are bad and weak and that the devil makes us do it.
That was true. We did that. We were bad and weak and the devil did make us…but how long can we keep using that excuse?
God gave us a choice to do the right thing…and we didn’t. He did not make us to love Him and choose Him by coercion or intimidation or manipulation or force.
Would we respect a parent or a spouse or a friend who gets their way by controlling and demanding and shaming and belittling…
When we are young and we do the wrong thing, there are consequences. There have to be or we will never learn.
But later, when we are mature and know what the consequences for our actions will be…the people who love us and taught us when we were young, hope that we would choose well… No longer because we are afraid of a punishment, but because it demonstrates our love and concern… not only our own well-being but our love and concern for the people who love us.
We choose to do the right thing because we care. Because it matters. Because we were first loved, we love. We want to do the right thing out of love. At least that is the way it is supposed to work.
We were babies. We did not understand the “natural consequences” of our bad choices.
Adam and Eve were like infants. They should have known not to touch because God told them…but they/we couldn’t be satisfied with what they/we had. They/We were distracted by what they/we didn’t have. They/We had to have what they/we didn’t have. They/We had to test. They/ We were loved…but They/ We didn’t really know what that meant.
It is a familiar story. From the beginning. And it will continue…even for us who should know and should learn and should care. We must understand that the cycle does not have to continue. A way out out of the maze of mirrors and a way off of the crazy train has been provided. Did you know that?
Original Sin…the Fall…whatever we want to call it DID NOT take us away from God. We took us away. We did it…and then we hid. We continue to do the same things that separated us…so we remaine separated.
We stay separated still. Because every single day we hear, believe and tell ourselves and each other a HUGE LIE. It has been perpetuated and promulgated for so long that the truth has been lost. Talk about a deception! We don’t even need a serpent. The religious leaders and church-goers of our day have taken the place of the Pharisees. They do the “right thing” they know the “Verses and Songs and Scriptures”…but their hearts are hard. They point their fingers and they pronounce judgement on everyone…
We see the “Big Show”, of worshiping ritual and tradition behind doors that call itself “Church” that calls itself “Christian” but fails to preach why Jesus said he came. Some how much of the “Christian Church” fails to resemble Christ or His Way. The hypocrisy makes us sick…or makes our blood boil…or makes us unbelievers. We were all made to be believers…so the deceiver has succeeded again by using the false church to take away natural belief.
Some of us take great pride that we are NOT religious people because it is so ugly and hypocritical. In fact, we want nothing to do with the “Institution” of “Religion”. We find that churches are some of the most inhospitable, ungodly places… Jesus found his followers on the beach and in a tree …walking down a road…and other unlikely places. Real places. Not contrived places of worship…but natural places where we are again part of God’s creation.
I love church personally, but it isn’t for the accouterments…the candles and banners and alter and robes and crosses and congregational hymns and prayers and confessions and creeds. I love it because I feel searching for truth there. Because I feel hope and faith and belief that we are made for more. And we are.
Let’s take a lesson from Jesus.
(Matthew 9) “Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’
At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This fellow is blaspheming!’
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’ Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'”
Friends, we are all sinners…but God did not create us to remain broken, wretched, fallen, weak…
Jesus told us why he had come…it was time. He came to show us the TRUTH because we had to see it. Open your eyes. Open your heart. Can you see the drama unfolding? the comedy? The story is the same…we have only changed the background and the titles and the clothing. The story is happening today. There is a choice. A deception. The continuation of lies and distortions. The truth. Another choice.
God the Father had a plan all along to redeem God’s VERY GOOD creation. God would not make us in His image to put us in perpetual “time-out”. Is that the kind of God you have? One that looks like the people that you know? That holds grudges and demands that you say you are sorry 4000 or 4 million times for the same offense and yet still never actually forgives?
Well, that is not God.
He already forgave.
God does not want us to continue to sacrifice ourselves on an alter for everything that we have done, or ancestors have done…that our children will do. We, as we became after “the fall” will never be sufficient. We…the Adams and the Eves…will always be fallen sinners that chose poorly and continue to choose poorly and will always choose poorly. Of course we…the Adams and Eves…will continue to fail. Because we think of ourselves as bad and not good…of weak and not strong…we say, “the devil made me do it” instead of “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world”.
The Adams and Eves don’t believe that there is Someone Greater…and that He is willing and able to reside with and in us.
We were made to be a little wiggly child that is in awe of everything and so happy we clap our hands and sing and squeal for joy. But we are told to shut up. We are told that we are misbehaving and that we need to learn how to act right. We are told by the people that we respect and that who we believe love us and care for us that we are “bad”.
And we believe it. We believe that we are “bad” and that everything we do is annoying and too loud or too tiring or too much…or not enough. Whatever we do, however we do it is going to displease someone. At first we try to act right. Maybe we learn how to play the game…to get approval…or maybe we fly under the radar and try not to call attention to ourselves…or maybe we give up and decide we don’t care. We don’t care what people say…we don’t care how people treat us…we don’t care about anything. Except we do.
Listen to the condemnation of self-righteous religious people…and the reaction and words of Jesus (John 8)
“’Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’
‘No one, sir,’ she said.
‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world.Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’
The Pharisees challenged him, ‘Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.’
Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.’
Then they asked him, ‘Where is your father?’
‘You do not know me or my Father,’ Jesus replied. ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’ He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.”
God the Father sent God the Son to do the will of God…which was to redeem us. To bring us back to a Very Good relationship with Him. Now we discover our “Why” : to work with the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit to open the eyes of those who are still blind and to announce the Good News that our sins are forgiven.
We are no longer the daughters and sons of Adam and Eve living under their curse.
We are the heirs with Christ.
Jesus told us “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free” (Luke 4:18)
Jesus did not cure the paralyzed man…he forgave him of his sins. That is what healed the man.
Jesus did not only turn away the men with stones by reminding them that they are all sinners…he explained to the woman that he did not condemn her either…but that she must leave her life of sin.
He would not have told her that if she were not able to do that.
She had been saved. So because of that, if she accepted this new possibility and she put away her old life and chose to change…then she, with God’s help, will become a New Creation.
That is the truth for us all. We must decide now. We are not babies who do not understand the “natural consequences”. The choice is…continue to live in and perpetuate the lie that we are fallen because of Adam and Eve. Or believe the truth that we are risen because of Jesus.
Do you believe in Jesus? Do you hear and understand His words? They were spoken for you. They were spoken for all of us! So stop listening to anyone who is not speaking for Jesus. Stop listening to anyone who says that they speak for Jesus but who tell you that you are “bad”. You are good. You just may not believe it. Believe it. God the Father loved us. He never stopped and never will. We are His Very Good creation made in His image! The Father sent God the Son. He told us what we needed to know…God wants us and would do anything for us…even be a perfect sacrifice for us…because when we are sinners and “bad” then the devil has a claim on us. But we were God’s first and we have the choice to be God’s again.
We do not ever need to be alone or afraid or worried or lost…we must always know that “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world”. God left His Spirit to be with us.
In Romans 8 Paul explains it this way:
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again;rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
We are made to be with God. We are made for God. We are in His family…his children…heirs with Christ. But we must know that is who we are.
And when we know that, then we will know “why” we are.
We live in a world that thinks that they know God…but if they knew God then they would make the choice to love Him. And that would change their lives. And that is scary.
Think about it.
Can you change your life to stop believing that you are “bad” and “weak” and “a sinner…so why bother.” It is a crutch. It has been a crutch from the beginning…To be bad… And to be weak and to continue to sin.
Jesus tells us to sin no more.
He would not tell us that if there were not a way. He says He is the Way. The Truth and the Life.
I want to understand what that is so that I can wholeheartedly do what I am here to do.
I sure have not gotten there yet…but I believe that I am good and strong and that with God’s help I do not have to perpetuate the lie that we are in the same fallen condition of Adam and Eve…
I can clap my hands and sing and squeal with joy that because God first loved us, and He was not willing to let us stay lost. We are His. We are called…to spread the Good News…because we are living examples of what God has done. And it is very good. Believe it! Praise God!