Our friend Danny Evans is writing poems each week for a series of sermons on the seven days of creation based on Steve Wiens’ book Beginnings: The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life (2016). Enjoy!
Keri and I were out in the yard doing some spring raking a while back. Keri had made some piles of leaves and weeds, and I was coming around behind her to bag them up. I was in for a painful surprise when I grabbed a pile of leaves with my bare hands only to discover she had pruned a rose bush and left the thorny briers buried beneath.
“Ouch!” I exclaimed. Well, I’m afraid my language was a bit more coarse than that. I literally cursed the ground, and found myself suddenly transported back to the very beginning of history in the story of the Fall in Genesis 3. I was experiencing the result of a creation under the curse. Because of Sin, God told Adam and Eve:
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food” (Gen. 3:17-18).
Ever since that moment most good things come only through painful toil and sweat. Thorns and thistles are everywhere! The ugly fact of the matter is this: The natural environment is cursed.
This profound truth about nature is lost on our world today. We live in an age that is ignorant of or denying the fact that the natural order of things is fundamentally flawed. Things as they currently exist are often not as God had originally intended. Tsunamis, earthquakes, disease, famine, drought, and the disturbing violence we see in the animal kingdom — these are all evidence of the curse.
Likewise, human beings are certainly not exempt. Human beings are fundamentally fallen and prone to all kinds of perverse inclinations.
Yet, this is not what we’re taught at university. In fact, we are bombarded with the opposite worldview — the conviction that for the most part people are basically good and we must never question or condemn an individual for acting in a way that comes most natural for them.
“Be true to yourself.”
“I was born this way.”
“I didn’t choose this orientation.”
“Every person should do what feels right to them.”
“If God didn’t want me to have these urges, then he wouldn’t have made me this way.”
This way of thinking assumes that the natural order of things is still good and that our natural inclinations are automatically in line with God’s design and will. But nothing could be further from the truth according to the Scriptures. Let’s look closer at the garden to see how dangerous and misguided “going natural” can be. Continue reading Going Green 5: Thorns and Thistles
God has green thumbs. There’s no doubt about that. You are never closer to the heart and purposes of God than when you’re on you’re on your knees in the garden pulling weeds with sweat running down your brow. Or tilling that rocky soil, pulling up thorns and thistles, or wringing your hands with frustration at those rabbits and deer who keep spoiling your hard work and preventing a fruitful harvest. See also “Peter Rabbit in the Garden of Eden.”
The story of the Scriptures is one long never ending lawn and garden expo. The opening pages of the Bible show the Creator as master gardener playing in the dirt, sowing seeds, bringing life out of the dust. God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds” (Gen. 1:11).
Then we read that “God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). Then God passed his love of gardening on to his human image bearers to carry on the task:
“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed….The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:8, 15).
We are all gardeners. God created human beings in his image and placed them on earth to cultivate it and care for it. We were to use our abilities to maximize human flourishing and honor God’s created order by exercising wise and benevolent dominion over the plant and animal kingdoms. Genesis 1:27-28:
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Unfortunately, our first parents disrupted God’s original plans and brought a curse down on the entire Garden project. Ever since, we’ve been pulling weeds, fighting thistles and bruising our foot trying to drive our spade into rocky soil. Continue reading Going Green 1: God Has Green Thumbs
The Creator could have chosen an infinite number of methods to bring the universe into being.
God chose to sing.
Well, we don’t know if God actually sang, but the creation narratives make plain that the first stars, moons, trees, oceans, platypuses and people danced into existence through the spoken word of God. (“And the Lord said…and it was so.”)
Scholars are quick to point out that Genesis 1 has a clear poetic rhythm, a certain beat, cadence or ancient groove. Unfortunately contemporary readers often tend to impose rigid, lifeless, “just-give-me-the-facts” scientific interpretations on this rich rhythmic narrative. All the heated debates over dating and the fossil record can deafen one’s ears to the sheer beauty of the creation song.
Like a pebble striking a glassy pond and rippling outward, the pulsating energy and mutual love of the Trinitarian dance struck the cosmic void with a decisive chord of creative power that began the rippling effects of those first six days. The poem slowly builds in tempo and tone, from the quiet sounds of the Spirit hovering over the deep to the energetic flashes of light and syncopated splashes of the sea.
The song’s thin melody grows fuller as new life fills sea, sky and land with each passing day. The creeping of the crawlers builds to the march of the beasts of land and sea. The suspense grows and the volume increases. The angelic choirs join the Divine Trio, adding texture and depth as the creative music builds to the grand crescendo of the sixth day.
Every note, every melody of the Father’s Song has been leading the attentive ear to this shocking, show-stopping lyric:
“Let Us create man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen 1:26).
And all heaven was silent. Awe fell over the angelic hosts. The perfect harmony shared between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit could not be contained. A dance this perfect, a song this sweet, a love this strong spilled over and echoed out beyond the perfect trinitarian fellowship.
And so God created human beings in his image — His triune, interrelational image.
I believe the only adequate answer is: We were created to join the Dance of the Trinity. We were created to join the angels in singing the Father’s Song. We were made to join the symphony of God’s holy, creative, life-giving, relational love.
We are all instruments of God in the deepest, truest sense. We are created “in the image of God” — we might say “in tune with God” — in order to perform the Father’s Song with our lives as we walk in rhythm with God.
The song’s opening measures were absolutely flawless: “And God saw all that He had made and it was very good.” For a blissful moment the first human couple enjoyed a life of perfect harmony (or “Shalom”) with the earth, with each another, with themselves and with their God.
But the Father’s Song would soon take a tragic turn as God’s instruments so went so quickly out of tune….