“We Messed Up”
“And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:4,10,12,19,21,25,31).
There are a lot of things in Scripture which are hard to understand. God’s wisdom is so much greater than our own. So when we see things like the Apostle’s Paul and Peter urging their congregations not to allow a woman to lead or so much as speak in the congregation when God clearly calls Deborah in Judges 6 to be a judge over Israel it leaves many to scratch their heads wondering what did God mean. There is an ancient method for getting at the root of what God is telling us, and that is to look at the words or phrases which are repeated most often. You see, in the ancient world ink and paper were hard to come by and expensive to produce. There was no Dollar General to go run and buy a notebook and box of ball point pens. So when those who were divinely inspired put pen to parchment they chose to be very careful with their words. They Biblical authors do not repeat things unless they have to, or unless they are trying to make a point. In Genesis chapter one we have this one message repeated seven times;
“And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:4,10,12,19,21,25,31).
Please hear me when I say this. When God made creation, it was good. Amen? Amen.
Here’s what I mean. Halloween is over. My kids are grazing on their candy and trying to make it last as long as they can. That’s okay, but we all know candy is really just a bunch of junk that’s bad for the body. However, the really good stuff is coming. Thanksgiving is on the way. Think about that wonderful Thanksgiving dinner; the turkey, the casseroles, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, and the pies. That’s the really good stuff. I can just imagine God looking down on that table and saying, “This is good.” I wonder if, in a way, that is what creation was like. God looks down on God’s creation and says, “This is good.”
Then came the Fall in Genesis 3, and Thanksgiving was ruined. The turkey is still frozen. The vegetables are burned in their pots. The dining room table is broken. The main beam supporting the house which ran under the dinning room is cracked thanks to termites, and it’s all our fault. Everything is a mess, and it’s all our fault. Now we have to live with our mistakes until Christ comes in final victory. When Christ returns there will be a new heaven and a new earth. The house will be better than new. We will eat at the Lord’s table, and the meal will be wonderful.
Until then we are left with the world and the problems we have today. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Do not post to Facebook anything you would not want to see printed in the bulletin on Sunday morning? (pause) How many of y’all are gonna unfriend me on Facebook? I am not going to wax political this morning, but I will point out the next time we wonder why there aren’t more people in church we might ought to start by looking at our witness on social media instead of blaming the people who are not sitting in the pews. That is our fault. There is suffering around the world due to war, famine, and a lack of natural resources and that is our fault too. Humanity is the cause of the world’s brokenness and suffering. Now we, and our children, and their children are all stuck fussing and fighting with each other over the mess we have made. When we look out the windows of our homes or go for a walk outside the beauty of God’s creation is undeniable. However, if you turn on the news the brokenness of our society all around us. Our world is not right. We are not right. When we are impacted by a tragedy like this week’s terror attack in Vienna, Austria, or the Covid-19 pandemic which has dominated the summer we start asking questions like, “If God is so good how could there still be pain and suffering in the world today?”
This is a fair question. This is a fair question, but before I try to give an answer I need to ask this question. Do y’all remember the days before washable markers? (pause) When my brother and I were kids our parents were renting a little yellow brick house in Huntsville, Alabama. One afternoon when Mom was outside doing something, my brother and I got out some crayons. We pulled out the crayons and we drew on the wall. Those crayons were not washable. When Mom came in the house and saw that wall, believe me. We knew we were in trouble. I remember Mom getting a pot. Mom filled the pot with warm water. Then Mom pulled out two sponges and put Softscrub cleanser on the sponges. Mom made us scrub those walls clean. (pause) They did come clean, but it took a lot of elbow grease to bring those crayon marks off the wall. I think this is the answer to the question, “Why does God allow suffering to continue?” God is empowering us through the Holy Spirit to clean up our mess.
Please let me ask another question. Do you get angry when you see women and children abused? Do you get angry when you see men broken and dejected because they have lost their job, they cannot get back on track, and do not know what to do? Do you become angry when turning a profit is more important than helping someone turn to Jesus? Does your heart break for those who are trying to get back up on their feet, but they keep getting knocked down over and over again? (pause) That is God at work. That stuff is supposed to make us angry. Don’t turn that anger toward God. Use that anger as motivation to do something about the problems, the brokenness and the suffering in our world.
In Genesis 1:28 God gave humanity dominion over the earth and told us to subdue it. Adam was gifted with the ability to make things grow and to cultivate the earth for God’s good glory. When Adam and Eve sinned against God and fell from grace Adam’s blessing was reversed. Eve was blessed with the ability to bear children. After the fall that blessing was damaged so now women all over the world give birth in pain. I can’t truly relate, but I’ve been in the room when birth happens on four different occasions and I will testify giving birth looks very very painful. All of creation was a paradise for Adam and Eve, but after the fall our paradise became a broken mess. How many hurricanes have we seen in the Gulf of Mexico this year? Too many? How many earthquakes have we heard about on the news or felt right here in North Carolina? How many violent storms or tornadoes have we had this year? Creation is just as broken as we are, but you know what. We still have a job to do. Creation is still ours to subdue and have dominion over. We are responsible for creation and we are responsible for one another.
God made creation and saw to it we and creation were good. Then we, humanity, messed it up. Now, like children who have colored on the wall we still have a responsibility to clean it up. We have a responsibility to look after creation and one another. We are to do this for God’s glory. We are not to work to clean up our broken world out of fear for what will happen when God comes home. We are to love one another because God loves us enough to send God’s only Son to be born like one of us and to die to save all of us on the cross. This is the first Sunday in November. We are headed toward Thanksgiving. How should we show our thankfulness to God? Perhaps, we should look for ways to share the love of God with others, and work to clean up our mess along the way.
In the name of Jesus Christ,