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The Way He Created (A Conversation with The Gospel Project)


This week our church begins using The Gospel Project as curriculum for our Sunday School groups.  My intent here is not to replace the material (as it is good enough), nor to write a commentary on it (as it is understandable), but to only add to the conversation in a way that may help our students and teachers hit the topics from other angles. 
My wife’s grandfather was a real craftsman with wood.  He had a small shed in his backyard that served as his creative retreat.  Inside his workshop were not only his countless number of tools but also piles of what looked to me to be scrap wood.  What appeared to be scrap to me, in his hands, given time, would become nice pieces of furniture.  Each piece reflected his vision and his skill.  Each piece also bore his mark.  Somewhere, hidden from view, he would sign his name and the year he made the piece.  
Several pieces he made now serve in our home as functional cabinets, tables, and stools.  But they are more than this.  They are treasures, especially to my wife and her immediate family, that bring back memories because they are reflections of her grandfather.  They bear his name.  They are the end result of his vision.  They reflect his skill and care.
The creation account in Genesis is not just about declaring who created the universe, but it is a rhythmic story of how.  It does not tell us how in the same sense that a molecular biologist would explain to us how a cell comes to life.  Instead, the creation account tells us how God created the world as an introduction to what God is like.  
He is powerful.  With mere words He creates light, separates the waters, and brings forth biological life.  While all of creation bears evidence of His design, none of it bears his name, but one piece.  Man.
Man, God created last.  This was God’s crowning achievement.  But he did not simply declare man.  Everything else was spoken into being, but the Bible tells us that man was formed by God.  Man began in God’s hands.  Not only did God form man, but He breathed into Him.  Our breath, our being, what we are is not simply a conglomeration of cells inhaling and exhaling oxygen.  We are alive because we are fueled by the breathe of God.  He did not blow on us.  He brought us close to Himself and He breathed into us.  It is then and only then that we became a living soul.  Unique from all other creatures, He also gave us His name.  We are created in His image.
Compared to every other tale of creation, whether ancient or modern, the Creation story of the Bible stands alone.  In other contexts we are either a grand biological accident or we are the refuse, the afterthought of the gods.  The Enuma Elish of the ancient Mesopotamians made us the excrement of the dieties.  To the ancient Egyptians, man was merely a slave of the gods.  To the Greeks, woman was given to man as a trap.  Pandora’s womb, or her “box” as we call it, would only bring forth evil each time it was opened.  Darwin made us little more than monkeys.  But the story the God of the Bible tells is that man was created purposefully, intimately, carefully, wonderfully.
Genesis 1 and 2 tells us how we were made.  In doing so this narrative brilliantly introduces us to the main character of the Bible’s grand story.  When He created the world He was up to something good.  In fact, once God created man, He called it very good.  But it would not be long before it all went bad.  Very bad.
More to come . . .


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Introducing God (A Conversation with The Gospel Project)


This week our church begins using The Gospel Project as curriculum for our Sunday School groups.  My intent here is not to replace the material (as it is good enough), nor to write a commentary on it (as it is understandable), but to only add to the conversation in a way that may help our students and teachers hit the topics from other angles.  
When it comes to origins the church has been deceived into believing that there is only one conversation worth having.  And that conversation, seems to be more of a debate than a dialogue.  Was the universe created by God?  The winner is determined only by whom can yell the most science at his opponent and thus beating him into empirical submission.  
The opening chapters of Genesis are not a scientific shouting match.  This is the opening scene of a story.  As such the primary intent of the creation account is not to provide a scientific record.  The intent is to reveal the Bible’s main character.  The message is not, “This is how God created the world.”  The message is, “This is God.” 
The Bible has entered the conversation of origins attempting to prove to us nothing, but desiring rather to give us a story that explains everything.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The fact that He did it is not in question by the author.  There is no debate.  There is not even a dialogue here.  This is a declaration.  In the Hebrew text there are only seven words and the action of the story is quickly underway.
The first seven words of the Bible tell us who did it, now the author weaves together a rhythmic script of the way He did it.  We move from declaration to introduction.  Yet, it is here that we cheat ourselves if we only debate origins.  We lose God in the debate.  The story is lost in the science of it all.  Lecture me on science and my mind will soon wonder.  Tell me a good story and you will have my attention for hours.
Genesis 1 and 2 is a great story.  By telling us the way God created the world the author is introducing us to who God is.  The bacterial flagellum screams at us intelligent design, but the human soul craves to know more about a person than whether or not they are intelligent.  When was the last time you asked a person, “What’s your IQ?”
We want to know if anyone cares.  Are you angry?  Is something wrong?  Where are you from?  Why are you here?  Does he ever smile?  What makes her laugh?  Is there love here?  How will you impact my story?  These are the questions that magnetize our soul and connect us with other people.  If this is what we want to know of other people, how much more do we want to know this of God?
This is the concern of Genesis 1 and 2.  By telling us what God did the storyteller shares with us what God is like.  So when we read the opening sequence of Genesis, let us lay aside our flagellum for a moment.  I am not suggesting that we also lay aside our intelligence, but I am saying, watch the show.  See the character.  By watching the way He does what He does, get to know Him.  Dare to ask the storyteller as he shares Genesis 1 and 2, what is God like?  
More to come . . .   
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