An Introduction to Us - Part 1
Week 2 – Genesis 1-2: An Introduction to Us, Part 1
By: Matt Barnes
The biblical mandate to care for God’s creation is clear from Genesis 1-2.
We see in Genesis 1.26-28 that we are created in God’s image. But what does that mean? Christians, Jews, and other interested people have given a variety of answers, including the ability to reason, the use of tools, communication, writing, creativity, etc., etc. However, each of these ideas can be used to exclude certain humans, which is certainly not a biblical idea!
Thus, it seems that the best way to think about being made in God’s image is that we are made to reflect God, represent God, and relate with God. Each of these ideas is inclusive of all humans, no matter age, ethnicity, gender, ability level, etc. Each of us reflects something about God to the world. Each of us can represent him in this world as well. And each of us is created with the innate ability to relate with God, even if that ability is only experienced between us and God himself.
Looking specifically at Genesis 1.26-28—being made in God’s image is connected with the idea of caring for creation. It is precisely because we, and only we, specially reflect God, represent God, and relate to God that we are commanded to care for creation. No other created thing or being can do so. We’re the only ones!
And we see an example of this immediately. The first human is placed in the garden in order to take care of it (Genesis 2.15), which is a reminder that work was not a result of sin but was part of the human experience from the very beginning. Also, the first human was allowed by God to name the other creatures (Genesis 2.19-20). In ancient Israel naming something or someone demonstrated authority, such as a father naming a son. Thus, in giving the first human the responsibility of naming the other creatures, God is granting humanity authority.
What might all of this mean for us today? We are presented with the way things were intended to be in Genesis 1-2. And part of that included caring for and having authority over the rest of creation. That mandate hasn’t gone away. Thanks to the politicizing of this Christian ethical imperative in today’s climate, many Christians have ignored or denied this mandate. This is unfortunate since doing so ignores God’s original intent! Brothers and sisters, let’s not leave this command undone! Let’s all our parts, separately and together.
“What I see in nature corresponds to what I read in God's Word: an Amazing Designer is the Source of all. This helps to strengthen my faith in God and my confidence in his Word.”
- Matthew Sanders, Science Educator
- Have you ever thought about caring for all that God has made as an act of discipleship before? Does this idea resonate with you? Why or why not?
- In Genesis 1.26 the ideas of being made in the image of God and ruling over other created beings are connected to one another. Why do you think God inspired Moses to write it this way? How does being God’s image bearer impact the way we rule over other creatures?
- God blesses humans and tells them to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth and subdue it in Genesis 1.28. In other words, God’s blessing of humanity extends beyond simply reproduction and includes our stewardship of creation. Is being a steward of God’s creation a blessing to you? Why or why not?
- The issues with creation care sometimes feel much too large for any of us to solve by ourselves—and that’s probably true! But we can take small, faithful steps each day. What are some of those small steps you could take to begin or to continue caring about creation?
- What does the fact that God granted us the authority to steward the rest of creation say about him? Does this fact make you more inclined to love and worship him? Why or why not?
- Watch this short TED talk: https://youtu.be/2FMBSblpcrc. What does this video have to do with creation care? How could implementing what the presenter shared help us remember our mandate to steward creation well?
- How do you think our witness in the world would be impacted if most of us followers of Jesus took our call to care for creation seriously?
Commit to take a few small steps to care for creation. Save your bath water as it is heating up. Shop at secondhand shops and reuse and repair your things as often as possible. Or use your imagination and creativity to come up with other ways to obey God’s command to care for this world he’s placed us in!
"When I learn something from physics, astronomy, or biology, I get to see more deeply the creativity, the love, and the intellect off the Creator. This in turn inspires me to worship."
- Wally Rippel, Research Engineer and Electric Car Pioneer
Beginnings: Genesis in an Age of Science
An Introduction to Us, Part 1
Genesis 1:26-31; 2:15
I have lived in a lot of places and have loved each one of them. They’ve been very different from one another – but I’ve seen beauty in each place. Of course, I have also seen a lot of things in each one that are not beautiful. Let me show you pictures of what I mean:
I grew up in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Here’s a shot of the beauty of the New River Gorge near my boyhood home: But, in recent decades, decisions have been made to get at the coal in the hills by simply blowing the tops of mountains off and taking the coal more cheaply gathered that way. It has left the mountains scarred and looking like this: Right after I graduated from Bluefield High School, I moved to Chicago to go to college. And, I fell in love with the city of Chicago: its architecture, its parks, its Lake
But, climate change has been affecting Chicago so that Lake Michigan seems to be drying up. That and pollution leave it looking like this: But now I live here in the LA area and get to experience the remarkable beauty of the San Gabriel Mountains: All of us who live here also know that we have huge challenges here in southern CA too: All this brings us to Genesis 1. Last week, I told you how much I love the creation account in the Bible’s opening chapter. When I read it, I feel almost like God finished each day by taking a snapshot, looking at it and telling us, “This is what I’ve done today. It’s good. I made it.”
Today, I want us to focus on the 2nd half of what God did on the 6th day. That’s when he created human life. The way the Bible describes human creation lets us know that God made human beings to be very special.
What Does the Bible Teach about Us? God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Gen 1:27).
Here at LAC, we often talk about human life being sacred in some way. This is rooted in Gen 1:26-31. I want you never to forget the way that God made you. It’s different from the way he created anything else:
- The cadence in the language changes markedly in v.26. In the first 5 ½ days, the Bible uses a set cadence and rhythm to talk about creation. It says, “And God said… let there be… and there was… and it was good. There was evening and there was morning…”
When we first come to v. 26, we read, “And God said’’’ and we think it will be just like what has gone on before. But, it isn’t. God’s Word is written so that we will stop and take note that something new and different will take place. It says, “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our own image, in our likeness!!” This change is a signal that God is going to do something very special.
- What is special is so special that God says it twice so that we won’t miss it. God declares that he made us “in our own image” and “in our likeness”. This is emphasized both in v.26 and v.27. Nothing else in creation is like these human beings. That’s what God’s Word is saying.
What Does the Bible Mean by “Image of God”?
There have been thousands of pages and hours of lectures and sermons about this topic – so please know that, in one sermon during a family service here at LAC, we will not be able to delve deeply into this. A good friend of mine, Dr. John Kilner, has recently published a 414-page book that I recommend highly to you about the image of God, Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God. I won’t read it all to you today. But, let me tell you that “image of God” usually is understood by three related descriptions: 1) To reflect to the world what God is like, 2) to represent God in the world he has made, and 3) to relate to God, one another and the rest of creation as God does:
- To reflect to the world what God is like – When kings would conquer another nation, they would often leave statues in the occupied nation to remind people that the king exists and that he is in control. But, not the God of the Bible. God has made people to reflect his presence and ways in this world. God is not to be imaged in anything that is fixed but through living human beings. It’s striking when you think about it. We as human beings have been created to reflect something about God to rest of creation, i.e., human beings are meant to glorify God.
- To represent God in the world he has made – Kings would also send their people into geographical areas and empower them fully to represent them wherever they had been placed. They were called “shaliachs”, representatives of the one who is in power. Shaliachs were chosen because they were deemed to have the wisdom and the giftedness necessary to make decisions about things that matter. That’s what we are to be in the world. Everything else in creation should see us and know that we have been made by God specifically to represent him in this world and to further his purposes in creation.
- To relate to God, one another and the rest of creation as God does – There have been unceasing debates about what the Bible means when God says, “Let Us make humankind in our image…” I’ll only say this: Whatever else that phrase means, it at least reveals to us that God is a relational God. God is one but has eternally existed in an intrapersonal relationship. Later in the Bible, God lets us know he has always existed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In Gen 2, when God sees that Adam is alone, he declares that this is not good – because people are made in God’s image and are not meant to exist alone – but always in relationship. We’ll talk about that next week.
When we put these three points together, we can make sense out of vv. 26-28, i.e., that God has given us the responsibility and the blessed privilege to take care of everything else in this world that he has made.
What Does God Mean When He Says We Should Rule? Let us make mankind in our image... so that they may rule (1:26).
The Hebrew word for “rule” is “radah” and was used for the authority and responsibility a king gave to his “shaliach”. That representative was to care for the people and for the land the king had sent him to in ways consistent with the king’s own character and ways. So, when we are created by God to rule in his place, it means we are to care for the world in the way God cares for the world, in the ways God cares for us! When God says we are to rule over the rest of creation, he does not mean that we are to be domineering. God is saying that he has placed us in this world to care for it and make it even more beautiful. We who represent God are to use our lives to bring blessing to what is under our care. That’s what God does. That’s what we should do!
We are God’s stewards in this world. We don’t own the world –God does! God has placed us in the world not to dispose of as we will but to take care of for the “Owner”. Do you know what it’s like? Sometimes, when you go on vacation, you find someone to stay at your house. Often, you give them the privilege of staying at your home and the freedom to use what’s there – the TV, the food, the water, etc. But, they should care for it while you’re away – not abuse it. They are to watch over the home, maintain things in the home, keep it tidy, care for the dog, etc. If you then get home and see that they’ve left food all over the house – so that it has spoiled so the place stinks, that’s not good. You would be disappointed if the house stinks. But, imagine how you’d feel if valuable things had been broken. The plants destroyed. And the dog is dead.
The story of the Bible is that God made the world and it was good. He made people and gave us the ability and the calling to take care of our world. But, we have walked away from God. One of the effects of that is that we human beings have not obeyed our mandate to maintain the beauty of our Father’s world.
The result has been ecological damage, pollution and natural disasters. As the Apostle Paul put it in Romans 8:20-21, “The creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it (Adam), in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” Paul then went on to say that what God has created will be made completely right when God has completed his work. Until then, we who follow the Bible’s teaching should recommit ourselves to being the best stewards of our Father’s world that we can be.
So, when I read Genesis 1, I see that God has given us a beautiful world to live in – and he’s made us so that we may enjoy it. And, he calls us to care for it. God says that this calling is a “blessing”. Yes, in v.28, human beings were given in the very beginning of creation a twofold blessing from God. The second of those blessings is unique to us as human beings. We have been given the blessing and the calling to rule over everything else God has created. In that calling, we find so much of our dignity and our reason for living.
Scientist, Wally Rippel, says that this world is a love gift to those who have been made in his image. God gives us this opportunity to be his stewards as a gift, i.e., as a blessing of his grace. “I give you everything on the face of the whole earth. It is yours to eat. It is yours to grow. It is yours to name.” But, in v. 31, he also says, “Remember that when I gave it to you, it was very good. Make sure that it stays very good.”
How do I want you to respond to this message from God’s Word today? I hope the first is obvious: 1) I want you to love the world and its people as God loves the world and its people. I see that love for the world radiating through Wally. However, I think political debates about the environment have seeped into the church over the years so that we fail to see each day that everything we live in the midst of in this world was created by God. When it is used as God intends it to be used, it is good, “very good”.
I also want you to 2) embrace joyfully and obediently the blessing of creation care God has mandated.
One clear implication of God’s Word today is that God has given you and me, as his image bearers, the ability to have our lives make a difference in this world. We often sing, “God makes beautiful things out of the dust.” Well, he does that – but, he also does a lot of his remaking in this world through his image bearers. You and I are human. We can take what is broken and bring it back together. We can make clean what has been made dirty by misuse and abuse. But be sure of this: The flip side of that is true also. We human beings have the ability to take what is good and make it bad, to take what is beautiful and pollute it.
I promised Wally that I would tell you that we didn’t have time in the video to tell you how devastated he as a scientist sees our world is due to the fact that fallen human beings have not cared for the world. All around us, we see the effects of our failure to be God’s image bearers. People inflict damage on our Father’s world rather than being good stewards of it. But it is our God-ordained calling – no, it is our “blessing” – to be able to live each day of our lives caring for and restoring what sin has damaged.
Finally, 3) I want us all to commit ourselves to a way of life in which we daily take steps to care for the world our Father has given us. You might say: “The problems are too big. Who am I to make a difference in a world in which the pollution and damage is already so thoroughgoing and widespread?” I tell you this: You are made in the image of God. You have been created to know him, to represent him and to reflect his love for the world by the way you live. He’s given you the ability, in his image, to further the goodness and beauty of the world he’s put you in.
So, I call each one of us today to living a life of small acts of faithfulness in caring for our world. I’ve put in the worship folder a few of the things we are doing as a church family to care for our world. Talk with your family and friends this week about what you might do to care for our Father’s world. Do small acts of care every day. It will be like planting seeds. That’s the metaphor I see Jesus using in the New Testament (e.g., Mark 4). Jesus called us to plant small seeds of God’s good news and of God’s kingdom in this world. When we do, God gives growth to those seeds. When we are faithful in small ways, we will be faithful in greater ones. He takes those small seeds planted out of obedience to him and do great things.
Genesis 1 does not give us a prescribed program for caring for our world. We can’t put together a comprehensive policy on the environment from these verses. But, God’s Word gives us a God-directed worldview from which to operate. As God so often does in his Word, he gives us the basis for guiding our behavior and directing our priorities with regard to the world we live in.
God blessed humankind and said to them…, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over what I have made… (Gen 1:28).”
Let’s to it well – to His glory!
我成長於西弗吉尼亞州美麗的阿爾帕基山脈。下面這張照片是美麗的喬治新河，在我童年時住所的附近： 然而，近幾十年來，當局者將山頂挖除，把煤炭聚集在那裏，以節省儲存費用。這使得山脈傷痕累累，變成了這個樣子： 我從藍田高中畢業之後，立刻就搬到芝加哥上大學了。我愛上了芝加哥這個城市：它的建築，它的公園，它的湖泊
然而，氣候的變遷對芝加哥影響很大，使得密植根湖幾乎幹涸，再加上汙染，使它變成了這個樣子： 現在，我住在洛杉磯地區，能夠領略到美麗的聖蓋博山脈： 在這裏居住的所有人都知道，南加州也面臨著很大的挑戰：
聖經中關於人類的教導 ---- 創世紀第一章與人類的創造：神就照著自己的形象造人，乃是照著祂的形象造男造女（創1：27）
1. 向世人顯明神的樣式 ---- 當國王征服另一個國家時，他們通常會在他們所占領的國家留下塑像，為要提醒人們這位國王的存在，和他掌握王權的事實。然而聖經中的神並非如此。神讓祂所創造的人類來顯明祂的存在和祂作為的方式。神不是讓人在固定不變事物之中去想象祂的形象，而是通過人類的生命和選擇來顯明。仔細想一想，你會覺得很受震撼。當我們按照神所定規的那樣去生活的時候，我們就在世上顯明了神的某一方面，比如，人類的意義就是要榮耀神。
2. 為要在祂所創造的世界上代表神 ----國王也會將他的子民送到某些地理區域，在那裏賦予他們權力，全權代表他。那個人被稱為“shaliach”，就是一個權力的代表。他們之所以被選出，是因為他們在為重要事情做決策時有智慧與恩賜。我們就是要如此活在世上。其它的一切被造物都應當視我們為神所特別創造的，是在世上代表祂、並且在創造中擴展祂的心意的。
3. 要與神、與人、與其它的創造物建立關系，像神那樣 ----關於神在聖經中所說的下面這句話，有著無數的爭論：“我們要照著我們的形象，按著我們的樣式造人……”我只想說，不管那句話是什麽意思，它至少告訴了我們，神是一個在關系之中的神。神是一位，但卻永恒存在於一個內在的關系之中。在以後的經文中，神啟示我們，祂一直以父、子、聖靈的形式而存在著。在創世紀第二章，我們看到，神與人同行並交談。
希伯來文是用“radah”來表達這個意思，並且是以我前面所提到的那種方式來使用的，也就是一個國王所賦予他的“權力代表者”的權威和責任。 這個“代表”將會使用符合國王旨意的風格和方式，來看顧人民，以及管理國王委托給他的土地。 所以，當我們被神創造，蒙祂托付管理祂的地方時，就意味著我們要照著神管理世界的方式、也就是神看顧我們的方式來管理世界！ 當神說我們要治理其它被造物時，祂並不是要讓我們專橫跋扈。 祂的意思是，祂將我們安置在這個世界上，讓我們管理它，使它更加美麗。 我們這些代表神的人，應當傾註我們的生命，為我們所管理的一切帶來祝福。 這就是神所做的， 也是我們應當做的！
我們是神在這個世界上的管家。 我們並不擁有世界，神才是擁有者！ 神把我們放在世界上，不是要我們按照自己的意願隨意處理，而是為“主人”照看一切。 你知道那是什麽樣的狀況嗎？ 當你去度假時候，你會找人住在你的房子裏。 通常，你會給他們特權住在你家，並有自由使用家裏的設施，包括電視、食物、水等等。但是，在你離開的時候，他們應當照顧你的家，而不濫用它。 他們應該看顧你的房子，保護房子裏的東西，保持整潔，照顧狗等等。如果你回家時，看到房子裏到處都是剩下的食物，以至於房內滿是腐臭氣味，這當然很不好。如果房子發臭你會很失望。 但是，想象一下，如果貴重的東西被打破、植物被毀壞、 狗也死了，你會感覺如何。
聖經說，神創造了世界，並且祂所造的一切都是美好的。祂造了人，並給了我們能力和使命，讓我們管理世界。 但是，我們已經背離了神。 其中的一個後果是，我們沒有行使我們的使命，使我們天父的世界保持美麗。 其結果是生態的破壞，汙染與自然災害。 正如使徒保羅在羅馬書8：20-21中所說的，“因為受造之物服在虛空之下，不是自己願意，乃是因那叫他如此的。但受造之物仍然指望脫離敗壞的轄制，得享神兒女自由榮耀。”保羅繼續說，當神完成祂的創造之時，祂所創造的一切都是完全美好的。 在那之前，我們這些遵循聖經教導的人，應該重新委身，盡力做我們天父世界的最好管家。
所以，當我閱讀創世記第一章時，我看到神將一個美麗的世界賜給我們，讓我們生活在其中。祂創造了我們，使我們可以享受它，並管理它。 神說，這個呼召喚是一個“祝福”。 是的，在第28節，人類在創造的一開始就被賦予了從神而來的雙重祝福。 這第二個祝福為人類所獨有。 神已經將祂的祝福和呼召賜予了我們，使我們去管理祂所創造的一切。 在這呼召中，我們找到了自己的尊嚴與生命的意義。
科學家沃利·瑞珀爾說：“這個世界是一個愛的禮物，是賜給那些按神的形象所造之人的。 神給了我們成為祂管家的機會，這是神所賜下的一份禮物，是祂恩典的祝福。” “我將地球上所有的一切都賜給你，就是那給你作食物的、 供你成長的、讓你來命名的一切事物。”但在第31節，祂也說，“記住，當我將一切都賜給你時，它是非常好的。你要使它保持完好。”
在我們教會大家庭的成員中，已有人委身於遵循神的呼召，以神所喜悅的方式來管理這個世界。 沃利·瑞珀爾就是其中之一。 沃利是電池驅動的電動車的長期開發商和倡導者。 當他還是加州理工學院的本科生時，沃利就設計了加州理工電動汽車（改裝的1958 VW微型汽車）。 他在那裏也相信了耶穌是他的救主，我門會在其它時間讓他分享這個故事。多年以來，他在噴氣推進實驗室/美國太空總署（JPL / NASA）做電動汽車電池研究。 2006年，他加入特斯拉，繼續他的電池電動的終身研究工作。 讓我們來看看沃利和我們教會的蒂芙尼·卡斯特羅所制作的視頻，是關於他委身於看顧天父世界的終生承諾的。
對於今天這出自神話語的信息，我希望大家做出怎樣的回應呢？首先我的希望是非常明確的：1）我希望你愛這個世界和世上的人，正如神愛世界和世人一樣。 我看到，對神所造的世界的愛通過沃利散播出去。 然而我認為，多年以來，關於環境的政治辯論滲入了教會，常常使我們無法看到，我們每天生活於其中的這個世界的一切，都是由神所創造的。 當它被按著神的旨意去使用時，它就是好的，是“非常好的”。
2）我也希望你們以喜樂的心接受神藉著管理祂的創造而賜給你們的祝福。 你們的創造者讓你治理和看顧你們所居住的世界。 從今天神的話語之中，我們得到一個明確的意思，神已經將能力賜給你和我，也就是有著祂形象的人們，用我們的生命來改變這個世界。我們經常這樣歌唱：“神從塵土中創造美麗的事物。”祂也通過我們，在這個世界成就了很多重建的工作，我們可以將那些破碎的事物回復完整。 我們可以將那些由於糟蹋和濫用而變得骯臟的東西重新變為清潔。
最後，3）我希望我們所有人都委身於這樣的一種生活方式，每天采取具體的措施去看顧天父所賜給我們的世界。 你可能會說：“問題已經太大了。 我是誰？如何有能力去改變已經如此徹底和廣泛汙染並損害了的世界？“讓我告訴大家，你們是按著神的形象造的。 你被造就是為要認識祂、代表祂、並藉著你生活的方式來反映祂對世界的愛。你們有著祂的形象，祂已經給將能力賜給了你們，使你們擴展這個世界的良善與美好。但是請註意，與此相反的另一面也是真實存在的： 我們人類有能力將本是美好的事物破壞殆盡，將原本美麗的東西弄得汙濁不堪。
因此，我今天呼召在座的每個人，為了看顧好我們的世界，在我們的生活中，付上一些小小的忠心行為。我會將我們的教會家庭，去管理看顧世界的一些需要做的事情列出來，放在崇拜文件夾中。 請在這個星期裏，與你的家人和朋友談談你可能會做什麽，來看顧我們天父的世界。每天付上一些細微的照顧，它將會像種子一樣成長。 這就是我所看到的耶穌在新約中所使用的比喻（例如，馬可福音第4章）。 耶穌呼召我們在世上種植神的福音與神的國度的種子。 我們在小事上忠心，才會在更大的事上忠心。 祂藉著順服，種植小種子，成就偉大的事情。
創世記第1章並沒有給我們一個特定的計劃，讓我們來照顧這個世界。 我們無法從這些經文中制定出一個關於治理環境的全面政策。 但是，神的話語為我們提供了一個以神為導向的世界觀。 正如神經常在祂的話語中所說的那樣，祂賜給了我們基本準則，在世上規範我們的行為，並引導我們安排優先次序。
Greg Waybright 博士