“In the beginning God created…”- Genesis 1:1a
In any story, beginnings are incredibly significant, and the story of God- told in the living pages of the Bible- is no exception.
And where does this story begin? With creation– or, more accurately, with a Creator. As such, the five simple words that lead off the biblical narrative- “in the beginning God created”- are undoubtedly among its most important. Creation is a critical component of this story, so essential that it would be no stretch to say that the rest of the story doesn’t make sense without it.
So what’s the big deal about creation? What does this opening chapter of the story of God teach us? Here are three bedrock principles discovered here…
1- God is the beginning
God wasn’t just in the beginning; God Himself is the beginning of this story. That means that He- and He alone- is at the center of the story. He is the point of it all, ultimate over and above everyone and everything else. All things- including you and me!- exist because of Him, and exist for His purposes.
Now we can often struggle with talk like this, can’t we? Why is that? Because if we’re being completely honest, we don’t like the thought of someone else being at the center of the story, at the center of the universe; we like to reserve that space for ourselves.
But let’s be real here- If there is a God, and He has created the world in which we live, and He has created us, who else would you expect to be at the center of the story? Because God is the beginning, it is entirely right and appropriate for Him to place Himself as preeminent within it. The sooner we come to terms with that, the more we’ll be able to make sense of this story in which we’re living.
2- Because God is good, creation is good
God didn’t create the world in which we live because He got bored; He had a definite purpose in His creative work. And what was that purpose? To display, in everything and everyone, His unending and unblemished glory! Psalm 19:1 says it this way- “The heavens display the glory of God; the skies proclaim His handiwork.” Just as an artist displays his or her glory on a canvas, God proclaims His infinite greatness and goodness on the “canvas” of our world.
Now obviously God’s good creation has been wrecked by our sin, but the glimpses of His glory remain. That means behind every sin stained component of our world is a good, and God given, purpose. There are no “throwaways” in God’s world. This universal sense of divine purpose means that God has every right to demand that His creation do what is was designed and intended to do- glorify Him over and above all. Which leads us to our third bedrock principle…
3- Because God is personal, creation is accountable
To say that “creation” is accountable is a pretty broad statement, in that I’m not sure God can really hold a tree, a bird, or a body of water personally accountable to Himself. That means that within God’s good creation, there had to be something- or someone- unique, something that could relate to Him personally just as He created personally.
That’s where you and I come in. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God has deliberately created every human being “in His image, after His likeness.” What does this mean? It means that we have been made distinctively and purposefully to reflect God, relate to God, and represent God in this world. It also means that we are uniquely accountable to Him for the way in which we live out that created purpose. The implications of this divine assignment are broad and staggering, but at the most basic level, we must answer to God for the way in which we view and relate to Him, and the way in which we view and relate to our fellow “image bearers” in this world.
But we have a big problem, don’t we? None of us in history has ever lived out our created purpose anywhere close to perfection. On our own, we’re not even capable of it. And if we’re as accountable to God as I’m claiming we are, that means we have all failed the test, and in line to receive the just consequence of that failure.
That is, unless the Creator intervened somehow. And in the person of Jesus Christ, intervene He did.
In Jesus, the Creator entered His creation, “moving into the neighborhood” to do what none of us could ever do. John 1:14 says it this way- “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son coming from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus perfectly reflected God, related to God, and represented God in this world on our behalf, becoming our substitute and making a way for the sin tarnished image of God to be restored in all who would trust and follow Him. While this process can’t and won’t be completed in full until the other side of this life in heaven, it is a process that can begin now as God daily transforms and “re-creates” His people from their old selves into their new selves in Jesus. Through Jesus- and Jesus alone- we can worship and glorify God as He created us to do in the first place, bringing deep pleasure to His Creator heart. Make no mistake- He is our only hope to stand righteous before our Creator…but in Him, we have the only hope we will ever need.
Some questions for you to consider as you reflect on the powerful reality of creation…
1- How do you view and relate to God? Do you see Him as the ultimate object of worship in your life, or have you traded Him in for other, lesser “gods”?
2- Are you still seeking to fulfill your God given created purpose through your own efforts, or have you trusted who Jesus is and what He accomplished on your behalf?
2- If you have trusted and followed Jesus, how well are you reflecting the “image of God” on an everyday basis? What is your next step in the process of reflecting God, relating to God, and representing God in this world as He created you to do?