Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Meaning of Genesis

I believe modern man is missing one of the major pieces to the puzzle by misunderstanding his role with regards to his relationship to Earth. Our society has become more and more individualistic, less family and community based, more materialistic and less spiritual. In fact most people don't even understand what spirituality really is. It has been confused with religiosity or religious legalism. There is a huge and ever widening gulf between man and his environment. People generally wander around not knowing where they came from, what how they got here or what role they are supposed to play in man's unfolding future. This makes for some very restless and unsatisfied people. Contemporary Christian "religion" seems to be failing to pick up this slack as it ought to be able to. People do not seem to have clear lateralization between a religion they can believe in- and one they can EXPERIENCE each and every day. How much more powerful would the churches much more centered and or grounded would mankind be if this were not the case?
It's funny, most of the kids I grew up with that were regular church goers don't attend any longer...On the other hand some people that were not church goers or religious thinkers are now attending church and wrestling with life's bigger questions. It makes me wonder if another two decades will show people swapping places like this again. It makes me wonder what it was that people did not find in church that caused them to stray or likewise what people were missing in the world that has led them to church.
I personally testify that it is people's search for religious truth, or general lack of it in their everyday lives at least, that drives them to do most of what they do. Establishing a belief system or comprehensive worldview that they can EXPERIENCE instead of only believe or have faith in could make a great difference in the lives of individuals, communities even nations or the world itself.
I believe also that having a greater understanding and sense of purpose begins first with the fear (respect) of God and then respect for his creations. Creation has order, it is structured by God who structures all life. By understanding that the physical world is ordered perfectly by the maker, we may understand that human experience has the same sort of underlying order to it. The existence of the world then means; not chaos, but order, and if humans wish to exist within that order, they should integrate into the creational order. This is what wisdom and/or spirituality is all about.
It is simple really, God is the source of life, therefore, Creation has a relationship with God in which it responds to him as it's Maker, acknowledging his power and grace. This is a far cry from the ideas being passed along by our churches today and I believe this misunderstanding to be the root cause of mostly all of the shortcomings of the Church throughout history. Generally speaking, the idea that this Earth is only a disposable backdrop for the moral play of mankind is being proliferated much to the detriment of mankind itself. I acknowledge that the Bible tells us that the Earth will pass away someday. However, I fail to see how this eventuality relieves us as humans from taking care of the gift of Creation while we still have it in our care. In fact, I would venture to say that if our priorities concerning this were more in proper alignment, we would not have some of the other problems we have like the population explosion, lack of food and medical care for the masses and materialism over spirituality which leads to disharmony of every sort.
I do not necessarily think it is wrong that we have shopping centers and motorcars and golf courses and cable tv and luxury hotels with casinos. I do see that the priorities of humans are waaaay out of whack. It is possible I believe to have bounty, good times and good things in life and still be taking careof business. I respect the idea that we should care for people before worrying about a paricular problem in nature, but I don't see how the two become completely different issues, they are symbiotic.
The Bible itself demonstrates that God's mood regarding the behaviour of man is usually clearly demonstrated by the state of the Earth we live upon. When he is pleased, it is fruitful and yielding- when he is not happy it becomes unfruitful and covered with stubble and desolation. Creation was meant to bear two kinds of witness, glory to god who made it and his ongoing nuturing care for what he has made. Understanding this enables us to comprehend what it means to bear his image on Earth by representing him, we see that it is our mandate as human beings to enhance creation's witness to the glory and nurture of God.
It could be said that nature itself bears a five fold witness to God. In the Bible you find glory, nuture, also penalty , precariousness and finally reclamation of a cosmos polluted by sin. Many have remarked about a solution of ridding the planet of many people to return "Mother Earth" to its natural state. The "religious" world has used statements like this to disavow themselves from the environmental movement because they see it as elitist (wishing to rid the planet of "unworthy" men) and nearly equal to goddess worship because of the mother image. These are common traps that people fall into because the religious world has had almost nothing to say on these issues and the secular world has sought to pick up the slack. The term "Mother Earth"- as I understand it did not actually originate from any ethnic belief but from an American newspaper writer who was trying to convey something an Indian had told him..."The Earth is LIKE our Mother", in an effort to explain their reverence, not worship, of creation. This has been a popular mistranslation and misconception.
As for ridding the Earth of sinful and unworthy men, that is God's business and it has been done according to the book of Genesis. God has promised not to destroy EVERYTHING again, but does that mean that societies or civilizations themselves are safe from wrath? I doubt it. God operates among men via covenants. There has been the Old Covenant of Law, The New Covenant of Christ, and the constant covenant of man's role as steward of his creation. God keeps his end of the bargains, are we? I have experienced the power and healing that can come with the type of understanding I am talking about first hand. I don't think that mankind or contemporary Christianity will see the kind of revelation and revival it sorely needs until people in general rediscover the meaning of the Genesis.

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