Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting thoughts based on study of the first few chapters of Genesis. Today I want to consider WHY STUDY THEM?
Two years ago as we began what we now call our annual “Compassion In Action” Day of Service, I called a church in Atlanta for someone to come down to train our leadership. The lady I was put in contact with was very friendly and over the course of weeks our conversations she acted as if we’d known one another for years. This was not entirely unusual because we had met…once for 5 minutes. One day a week before she was to come to do our training I answered my office phone to this same woman laughing on the other end of the line. She had finally put together that she had mistaken me for another “Eric Ashley” with whom she had worked with for years. This revelation added so much light on our previous conversations [and to be truthful, I really don’t know if she’d have quite as willing to make the trip if not for this mistake.] Her starting point led her to an action that she perhaps would not have taken otherwise (coming down so easily for a training).
Our starting point when we enter into a question or discussion can influence where we are going to end up. Most people’s starting point in any given issue that arises is that “We are the authority”. We think, “If I can understand this then ok; I’ll accept and believe it”. However, it doesn’t work when we come to the Bible. The God of the Bible is not a tame God. We are not the authority that judges God. We can’t pick and choose what we believe about God. The scriptures tell us that THIS IS THE GOD WHO IS and command us to build our belief system around that. If something needs to change it is most likely not God…It is us.
How do we approach studying ancient texts like the book of Genesis in such a way so that they give real life answers to our day to day questions? We may need to rearrange our belief system and start with who God says he is and rearrange our lives accordingly.
Why would we want to study Genesis?
– The cry of our culture– So many people have so many different standards. Our culture gives answers to most questions. We are told what we are to like and not like. But, the one question our culture does not and cannot answer is “why”.
– The cry of our generation– the younger generation’s cry is to find answers to “who am I, what am I here for, how am I to live my life, WHY are things this way?” How many times have you heard (or said) things like “I’m just trying to find myself.” For most people, college days, and now post-college till early thirties, is one big journey to find the answer to these questions through a whole cadre of “enlightening” experiences.
– The church has given an incomplete answer to the question of why. The Bible is a unified whole that tells a complete story: God created us a certain way…for certain purposes; We rebelled; he sent a redeemer (Jesus) to restore us to God by paying sin’s penalty; He is coming again to finish what he started. This is the storyline of the Bible. Most churches focus on “Rebellion and Redemption”. They ARE central BUT only focusing on these two is an incomplete picture of the Biblical story. What is sin and why does it matter? What makes something sinful? Will things always be as they are now? The answers to these questions have many times been assumed in church…but in today’s world the average person does not share the same set of basic assumptions and understanding of Biblical concepts. These questions must be answered fully and clearly to give any sort of context or meaning to why Jesus and his redemption matter!
The answer given in the opening chapters of Genesis is one packed with hope and glory and significance…as well as sadness and devastation from having veered terribly from it! God himself intimately formed us in a specific way and for huge and fulfilling purposes…and when we vary from that way then it is sin.
There is much more to the story and in the coming weeks we’ll slowly unpack many of the details. The truths of this ancient book are timeless and I am constantly amazed at just how relevant they are daily to my life!