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Perspective

God’s World, God’s People

by Bertram Melbourne, Ph.D.

Identity and Origin

Life, my friend, is a vast ocean on which we sail individually in our small crafts. The vastness and complexities of life tend to overwhelm us. To make sense of life—navigate its seas and oceans, trek its plains and flatlands, ascend its hills and mountains, or descend its slopes and valleys—there are certain fundamental issues we must resolve and questions we must answer.

Two such puzzling yet essential questions that have plagued humans are, “Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?” They concern identity and origin. There are two fundamentally differing approaches to them. Based on Darwin’s theory of natural selection and random arrival of the right circumstances, evolution teaches that life began by the chance interaction of the proper gases resulting in a unicellular organism that over millions of years produced all life, including humans. Scripture, on the other hand, proposes that God created the universe and life. In the former, life is without design or designer; for the latter, God masterminded it all.

Genesis 1:26 sheds light on these significant issues. Speaking to the issue of identity, the text illuminates origin. First, it identifies us as creatures and products of a divine intent. Second, it speaks to humans originating with God, not by chance. There was a designer. Genesis says this designer, a power greater and higher than ourselves, created us in God’s own image. This designer is God. I support the latter: The

beauty, grandeur, intricate design, and pattern evident in humans could not have happened coincidentally.

This point concerning design is important. If we follow the notion of the evolutionists, then human beings are the products of chance. Accidentally the gases that produced life came together. Fortuitously, a unicellular organism living in water began to multiply and developed a backbone. By happenstance this creature developed into an amphibian that later became an ape that evolved into a monkey and then became a human being, and it suddenly stopped there. Not only are all these stages not verifiable, there is neither credible evidence for their existence nor any plausible rational explanation exists for the intricate design, orderliness, and intelligence observed in humans and our environment. It is not an unplanned occurrence that 100,000 miles of blood vessels are able to encircle the world four times yet are contained in an average 136-pound body.

Contrarily, when one accepts that we are creatures designed and fashioned by the loving hand of a kind, compassionate, just, forgiving, and beneficent God, it makes all the difference in the world. It allows us to see that thought, design, love, tenderness, compassion and care went into the process. When we view things from this perspective we have an explanation for the structure, intricate design, order, and intelligence we encounter in humans. We are designed by a Creator who formed us in

His own image. This not only gives us value, it boosts our self-image, understanding, self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. It means we can hold our heads high and walk with dignity and pride for we are not just children of God, we are made in God’s very own image and likeness. This means the world. It says we are products of the Creator of the universe, shaped by His own loving hands. This says I have value and can walk with pride. It gives me someone bigger and higher than me with whom to identify.

 

God Creates Family

Each human grapples with some fundamental issues of life. We find ourselves facing problems and hardships. We want answers that are not always forthcoming. Some of us live in families that we don’t like and/or don’t like us. Many have families who love them but they don’t reciprocate that love, or vice versa. Others have families who care and provide for them while some have no such luck. Many have been in charge of themselves for as long as they can remember. Some children live in families with mothers and fathers while others have only one parent, and still others have none. Why such great incongruences in life?

Genesis 1:27 (HCSB) says “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God, He created them male and female.” This passage confirms the idea that humans were created by God in God’s image. Yet, another notion is inherent in the text that is key. It speaks a truth that all need to hear though none can explain its details. I think this is where faith begins and is indispensable.

This text not only presents a tremendous reality about God—and humans. It informs that God created humankind in God’s image, but for humans to epitomize that image, they had to be made male and female. The natural question is, “How is this possible?” Sadly,

we must respond that we don’t know all the details. God only reveals to us what He chooses to, and sometimes we simply do not know. God is a mystery, or according to theologian Rudolf Otto “the mysterium tremendum.” Job’s inference is appropriate: “Canst thou by searching find out God?” We must wait for and trust God’s revelations.

Now, if we accept the notion that humans are products of God’s hand who created us male and female to represent the Godhead, then we see something more about us and our roles in society. As we represent God in the way we were made, even so we represent Him in society and in the socialization of children. As parents, we exemplify the totality of God to our children whom we must train to love, honor, and respect God. Parents represent God to their children. It is therefore incumbent upon parents to set principled examples and to train children to obey them, which represents obedience to God. The family structure is the incubator for nurturing, training, and grounding children to reflect God’s image and prepare for life in heaven. This is a tremendous responsibility that reflects the trust and honor God reposes in parents.

 

God is Sovereign Over Everything

Genesis 1:31 says after the creative act God saw everything He had made and said it was very good. Now, if God is good and contains no evil and if He made everything and declared them very good upon completion, where then did evil and sin come from? Moreover, if God is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look upon iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13), and if sin separates God and humans (Isaiah 59:2), would God have created evil?

Does Isaiah 45:7 shed any light on this matter? This is a very fascinating text. After a cursory glance at it, one could indeed conclude that God created evil. It reads, “I form light, and

create darkness; I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” Taken literally, we would have to concede that God is responsible for all disasters, calamities, diseases, droughts, injustices, difficulties people encounter, and all the woes we confront in human existence. One could argue that God takes responsibility for the good things in the world and if Christians attribute excellence to God, why not also admit that He created evil as this text says? Did God create evil?

It is important to consider the context of the passage. In its context, the passage speaks of Cyrus the Persian who was God’s chosen instrument to accomplish God’s purposes. Zoroastrianism was then the dominant religion of Persia and took a dualistic approach to things. Most prominent was its two gods Ahura Mazda, responsible for good/light, and Ahriman, responsible for evil/darkness. What appears to occur in this text is that rather than attributing creation of evil to God, it says that Persians had a god responsible for light and one for darkness, but God is creator of both since He is the supreme being. Here God is held responsible for what God allows. Even if one permits the translation “evil,” it is not a reference to evil in the sense of sin but in the sense of a god by that name worshiped by the Persians, and by extrapolation references disasters.

Genesis 1:31 says that when creation came from the hands of God, everything was very good. Yet, today they are not. God did not want to create beings who were forced to believe His every word and obey His every command. Thus, God created creatures with the power of choice. A choice to obey would result in a world without evil and sin. A choice to disobey would result in sin and evil. Both in heaven and on earth, God’s creatures exercised their choice not to obey. What we have experienced since then has been the consequence of that

choice. We were deceived once but we should not remain deceived.

God did not create evil. But God is sovereign over everything. God created a perfect world. Lucifer, with his choice to disobey, occasioned sin in heaven. He brought his disobedience to earth where Adam and Eve followed him in disobedience that resulted in the loss of the beauty and innocence of earth, and caused the pain and suffering we all know. The injustice and wrongs people experience are directly related to Lucifer’s failed plan and human sin. He has become a master of the art of doing bad things to good people and encouraging them to blame a good God. Beware! Don’t take the bait.

Yet, all is not lost. God did not abandon us in our plight. He chases after us and still endows us with the awesome task of creating life through procreation. Through this kind of relationship children can begin to understand what it means to be sons and daughters of God and what it will mean one day to rejoin the family of God. The whole object of human existence and the plan of salvation is the re-creation of humans in God’s image.