When I was a boy, I remember asking my mom where I came from. Her answer has stayed with me all these years: I was found, she told me, in the garden, almost as if I had been planted there and finally had sprung to life. Maybe my mom didn’t feel ready to explain the birds and the bees to her 5 year old son, but I remember her answer troubling me until, at a later age, I figured things out. The troubling part for my young mind was, if it were true, I was disconnected from my parents—who was I really? If I couldn’t be sure of that, I couldn’t be sure of much else.
If we don’t know our own history, we are disoriented. Adopted children grow up and want to learn about their biological parents. TV programs like PBS’ Finding Your Roots provide surprises and insights to those who learn their family history through genealogical research. Most of us want to know more about our origins, because it gives us a sense of direction and grounding in life.
The Book of Genesis is designed to show the human race our origin story. Genesis means origin or source. In this part of the Bible we learn that we trace our ultimate origin back to God, who created the heavens and the earth, and who fitted that earth to be a place for humans to live and flourish. And surprise of all surprises, we learn that God created us in his own likeness and image; it’s like waking up and learning you are actually descended from kings—you are royalty. You carry all the dignity of one made like God.
The Genesis account is not, in the first place, a book that should be read like a modern science textbook. Genesis was written to an ancient audience, and it would be wrong to assume that God would bring them up to speed on modern ways of thinking about science before revealing himself to them. Science is always updating and revising its theories, and we should take care before trying to tie the Genesis account to any one of them. Much humility is needed as we approach this text.
The opening of Genesis is a profound theological statement. It is designed to tell us who we are in relationship to our creator. You are not here as the result of some cosmic accident. You are not left alone without direction. You are made to excel as you live in harmony with God’s design for the world and especially as you orient your life towards him. It’s a book that is especially helpful in today’s secular world, because increasingly we feel rootless and adrift, bounced around and tossed about. Genesis anchors us to God’s story.
This fall, we will begin a new sermon Series on the first 3 chapters of Genesis. We find here not only our true origin story, but a fitting introduction to all the Bible. We learn about major concepts that are carried through the rest of scripture—God as our creator; the origin of sin; the “imago die” (image of God); marriage (Adam and Eve); judgment and redemption; even Christ makes his first appearance (Gen 3:15) here. Join us each Sunday, starting September 10th, as we learn more about God and his world—which helps us learn so much more about ourselves.