Beginning SeriesThe Beginning
Genesis 1:1-4 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
Question: Why are we here?
The most basic question of life is this: Why are we here? It’s foundational for virtually every religion and philosophy. It’s a universal question. I don’t even need to ask if you’ve asked that question. We all have…we all do! And let’s not kid ourselves, it’s not easy to answer. Just because we’re in church doesn’t mean we can smugly quote a scripture and pretend this answers the question that all of us continue to wrestle with. The pain of life makes any easy answers seem insufficient. If you have experienced pain, you know the problem.
How would you answer their questions about the purpose of life?
Or if you are in transition, perhaps a divorce, or moving away from home, or caring for aging parents. Both pain and life experiences force us to answer this question again and again. So, for this foundational question, let’s go back to the beginning—the very beginning:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1]
What a seemingly simple statement. God made stuff…all stuff. End of story, right? Hardly. Perhaps you realize that Christianity is not the only religion that believes God created the world. However, our world view is radically different than virtually every other religion. This is not a criticism of anyone else just an explanation of why the biblical worldview is so different and why that matters so much to so many. It may even matter to you because however we answer this question will determine how we manage the most challenging seasons of life. Whether we have hope or despair; whether we pray or persevere, whether we see meaning beyond the seemingly random suffering in our world. So, let’s take a look at a simple statement with profound ramifications.
God created the world. Most people would agree with that. However, it was actually a rare idea when it was first recorded. You see, every other religion of the ancient near east assumed that matter was eternal, and the gods arose out of matter. So, gods were part of creation, not the cause of it. Judaism shot a thunderbolt through philosophy by this simple statement in Genesis 1:1. Suddenly, God is the creator, not just a manipulator of material. Let me say that again, God is the creator, not just the manipulator of the material.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do…
Revelation 4:11 You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.
You know why this matters even if you don’t know how you know this matters. Whatever we create we care about. Have you ever created anything? A poem, painting, business, team, garden, table, or Thanksgiving dinner.
Whether it is art, architecture, poetry, welding, music, or interior design, we just love to make stuff and we love the stuff we make. Our creations are extensions of ourselves.
Ecclesiastes 11:5 As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
If you get this, you will realize something truly magnificent: God is nuts about you for no other reason that you have his fingerprints all over you. He can’t help himself—you are HIS. Unlike other creation stories, our God is “bought in” and “sold out” to what he made because it is an extension of himself. Our God cannot be distant or disinterested. This is really powerfully good news. This is also distinctly a different world view and it’s straight out of Judaism.
Galatians 4:6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
The Jewish God of creation was intimately connected to and invested in his creation. Unlike other worldviews where the gods were capricious or cruel, the God of the Bible walked with Adam and Eve in the garden and wants to walk with you as well. Listen carefully. When God is the Creator, he is also Father. He takes responsibility for this world. That’s a big deal. BUT, it gets better. The Jewish creation story paints God as a Father. What Christian teaching adds is far more. You see, we don’t just believe that God is Father, but also that he is the son and spirit.
Genesis 1:2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Verse 1 states that God created the world.
Verse 2 says, “The Spirit of God was hovering over the chaotic waters.”
The concept of the deep and the dark was a Jewish idea of chaos. The Spirit of God in Judaism was a lifeless force. Jesus, however, introduced the spirit as a unique person of the Godhead. Thus, in verse two we encounter the second member of the Trinity. And what is he doing? He is hovering. That Hebrew word indicates a kind of vibration or quaking. It is not unlike your grandmother 30 minutes before houseguests arrive. She is scurrying about, taking care of last-minute details, so that her home is in order and a safe environment for guests.
Hebrews 10:15-17 ‘The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord…. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” ‘
The first time we meet the Holy Spirit, he is bringing order out of chaos so that we can thrive in an environment created by God. That’s a pretty good job description for what the Spirit always does. Where there is disorder, he brings order. Where there is chaos, he brings healing. Right now, wherever there is disorder in your life, the Holy Spirit with ADHD energy is attempting to bring you in a right relationship with your creator. Let that sink in. Whatever is on your mind is also on God’s heart because of the Holy Spirit. He is an advocate for what matters most to you.
In the very next chapter, we will see this same Spirit breathing life into a human being. It’s still true today. It isn’t only true for us as humans; it is true for every animal. Whatever breathes, breathes because of the Holy Spirit in it.
Psalm 104:30 says, “When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.”
The Holy Spirit is more intricately connected to creation than either the father or the son. Hold onto that thought for a moment and we will come back to it.
We encounter God the father in verse one. We encounter God the spirit in verse two. In verse three, if we read between the lines, we will see the Son. “And God said, ‘let there be light,’ and there was light.” We know God created the world by simply speaking it into existence.
If we were to fast-forward to John 1:1, we would see that Jesus is the embodied word of God called the “logos.” When God spoke, Jesus acted! He carried out the command of God. Paul says the same thing,
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:15–17).
We might think of it this way: God the father is the architect who designed the plan. God the son was the builder who created our universe. And God the Spirit acted as the engineer to infuse this creation with life, beauty, and order. Together, the Trinity created the world we inhabit, including ourselves. Why does that matter? What difference does a Christian view of creation make verse Darwinian evolution or some other ancient mythology?