Identity–God as the source of life (Genesis 1)

As we said yesterday, we realize that many of you may be following along from the beach or from your boat.  Our format is designed to give you a question or two to think about and possibly discuss with your kids or your neighbors. 

  • What do you want to be most known for?  Where do you find your identity?

The question of “identity” is fundamental to our humanity.  Every child that has ever played dress-up, or put on a mask and a cape has sought to answer a very basic question: Who am I? 

This question never really goes away as we enter adulthood.  And—perhaps tragically—the great temptation is to continue to look for identity in the things we wear or the things we own.  “[Where] do we derive identity today?” asks Barry Taylor, artist and professor:

“I content that it is largely derived from our imagination. We shop for ‘ourselves’ in the marketplace of ever-expanding ideas brought to us when we enter cyberspace or media culture, or when we engage with the seemingly endless possibilities presented to us by a global consumer culture.”[1]

In short, we look for approval for wearing name-brand jeans and driving a luxury SUV.  Still others will seek identity not from a store but from a sports arena, or from a political affiliation, or from a report card.

The Bible says that God is the source of life.  As we saw yesterday, Paul emphasized that in God’s kingdom, “from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36).  God is the source of life, he is the means of life, and he is the goal of life.

In the very first pages of scripture, we find the story of God creating man and woman:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)

God then spends the first three days forming the environment of the earth, and on the next three days he fills the world with birds, fish, plants, animals, and—on a much more personal level—human beings.  “Let us make man in our own image,” God says (Genesis 1:26).  And so God forms man to be the earth’s unique caretaker—a divine representative of God in the world:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)

The rest of the story, as we know, is one of brokenness.  Man came to doubt the very Word of God that had spoken creation into existence.  Now man sought identity not through obedience, but by consuming a piece of forbidden fruit.  Thus began man’s long search for contentment in created things rather than the Creator himself.

The gospel is a story of how this brokenness can one day be put back together again.  C.S. Lewis once spoke of this distinction between what he called bios and zoe life.  “Bios,” he says, is “the Biological sort which comes to us through Nature, and which…can only be kept up by incessant subsidies from Nature in the form of air, water, food, etc.”  “Zoe,” on the other hand, is “the Spiritual life which is in God from all eternity.”

Biological life demands to be fed and maintained.  But spiritual life requires complete transformation.  Lewis concludes:

“A man who changed from having Bios to having Zoe would have gone through as big a change as a statue that changed from being a carved stone to being a real man.  And that is precisely what Christianity is about. This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.”[2]

The gospel, of course, tells us that this is far from a “rumor,” but a promise made by the very Word of God.

What this means for us is that we cease looking for identity in the things around us, but look instead toward the Creator for a sense of wholeness and purpose.

  • Additional question(s) to share and consider:
    • Have you ever felt tempted to find identity in something other than God? What were the results?
    • What advice would you have for your children when they become wrapped up in their athletic or academic performance?

 

 

[1] Barry Taylor,Entertainment Theology, p. 46

[2] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. New York. Touchstone (Simon & Schuster), 1943. 138-140.

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One thought on “Identity–God as the source of life (Genesis 1)

  1. While man looks and rejoices in outward things like appearance and strength and perhaps wealth, the qualities God values are a dedication to righteousness. If we love righteousness and truth, we will love the maker of righteousness and truth. Just as if we love great art, we might love great artists; Or if we love great sports performances we might love great athletes; if we love righteousness we will love the Righteous one who made everything.

    This is one of the things that God values:
    “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
    the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Ps. 147:10-11 NIV)

    This is one of the qualities that God values:
    “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Mic. 6:8b NIV)

    This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches,
    but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jer. 9:23-24 NIV)

    Looking up the words “Wisdom” or “Humility” shows other qualities that we should aspire too. (Example: James 3:17-18)

    God bless you Chris, for pointing us in the right direction of what we should aspire to and for reminding us to teach the important things to our children and to uphold the best things – seek after the true bread, true riches, true life etc … things that make a difference for now and eternity.

    Conclusion / or PS (PostScript): “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8 NIV)

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