I wonder if you have seen the BBC TV programme called “Who do you think you are?” It started in 2004 and is now in its sixteenth series. It’s a programme in which famous people investigate their family tree to find out who their relatives were, and what they did for a living. Past episodes have included Bruce Forsyth, Stephen Fry, Julie Walters and even Boris Johnson, amongst others. These celebrities want to find out where they come from, who they are, and perhaps what their own vocation in life should be. As they look at the records of their family history, they understand more about themselves.
In many ways, the Bible book of Genesis contains the family history of humanity. It can help us learn vital truths about God, about the world and about ourselves. It can help us know our Creator and our place in his creation. The book of Genesis can even help us also enlarge our view of Jesus Christ. Because our famous Gospel reading this morning refers back to Genesis to help us appreciate how great and glorious Jesus is. He is our creator and sustainer, the Word of God as well as our Saviour.
God was before the beginning!
So what can we learn from Genesis? Firstly, Genesis tells us that God pre-dates the cosmos. God was around before the beginning of the world! “In the beginning” says Genesis 1:1, and God was already there! Atoms aren’t ultimate reality, God is! So we should look beyond the material world for our identity, purpose and guidance in life.
Secular society believes that matter is all there is. People try to maximise their material possessions as if they were ultimate reality. As if our accumulation of material things is what is most valuable and most important in life. Money and possessions have become gods, idols and objects of worship in place of our Creator.
But Genesis reminds us to worship God. Our lives should be oriented around him. We should honour and thank him for all that he has made – especially at this Harvest time of year. And if God is eternal, then he is the one person we can look to for eternal life ourselves. Only the God who gave life to the universe can give eternal life to us as well.
Our Gospel reading from John reminds us that the everlasting Creator of the universe isn’t a solitary being but a loving Trinity. Father, Son and Spirit were in an eternal relationship of love before any Big Bang took place. John’s Gospel deliberately echoes Genesis when it says, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.
And later in the New Testament, Colossians chapter 1 explicitly tells us that this Word was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He existed “before all things” and by him “all things were created”. Astonishingly, the Jesus who walked in Palestine was the same person who once threw the stars into space and established the order of the cosmos. It was God’s Son, not Isaac Newton, who really did invent the laws of physics.
We are creatures, not products of chance!
Secondly, the opening chapter of Genesis also reminds us that we are creatures, not products of chance. Whichever way God made us (whether by evolution or a more miraculous mechanism) there is no doubt we are made and designed. The universe, with its stars, planets, plants, animals and people, is an ordered and deliberate creation, not a chance occurrence.
The universe was designed and detailed by a supreme intelligence. The cosmos comes from the mind of God, not from chance. Christian scientists can point to many wonderful features of the universe that reflect its divine origin. For example, they point to its fine-tuned laws of nature – the “cosmic constants” that bring order to the universe. To give one example – if the force of gravity were a tiny bit stronger, the universe would have collapsed and crumpled before it got going. If gravity were weaker, then the universe would have expanded too fast for life to form.
Christian scientists also point to the complex DNA codes that are the building blocks of life – evidence of a supreme intelligence behind the visible world. They can even point to the mystery of consciousness, arguing that our minds can only have their ultimate origin in the mind of God. Mind can’t come from matter.
The good news is that if we are created beings, not products of chance, then our lives can have purpose and meaning. One way or another, we were all made with a purpose in mind. We are a work of craftsmanship, not cosmic junk. God has purposes and plans for all our lives. Above all, he has made us to know him, to love him, and to love one another. If we really are created, there is no need for us to despair or lose hope. We can know our Creator and be known by Him. Above all, our Creator God has revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. As John’s Gospel tells us, Jesus was the Word of God who “became flesh” and “dwelt among us”.
God is in charge of the cosmos!
Thirdly, and finally, Genesis reminds us that God is in charge of the cosmos. God is described in Genesis as having ultimate power and authority. His Spirit hovers over the waters and life erupts. God speaks, and things happen, life is born.
Our Creator God is the ultimate authority in the world, not chaos, chance or even human beings. As creatures of a good and powerful Creator we shouldn’t try to make up right and wrong, and decide for ourselves what is best. Frank Sinatra famously sang “I did it my way”, but God’s way is better. We should obey the opinion of the one who made us and knows us better than we know ourselves. We should seek help from the God powerful enough to put the bang into the big bang and set the galaxy’s swirling in space.
It follows that we should listen to God’s words in Scripture to discover how to live. We should be faithful to our Maker’s instruction manual despite every temptation to do otherwise. God has a fully-formed, expert opinion on every major decision we face, and perfect insight on every ethical dilemma – from abortion and euthanasia, to war and peace. When faced with difficult decisions we should be wise – and take counsel from our Creator. We should wrestle with the text of Scripture to discern its application for our daily lives.
And when trials and troubles arise we to turn in prayer to our Creator. The same Holy Spirit who hovered over the waters of creation now lives within the heart of every believer. Just as he brought forth life from the earth, he can bring forth strength, wisdom and character from within our hearts.
As I finish this morning, I hope we’ve be reminded of our place in the universe. We are not a big mistake but creatures made by a loving God. He is in control not chance. And best of all, we can know our Creator personally, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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