Genesis 2:1-9, 18-25, John 1:19-34
August 18, 2013
How many of you remember Norm Crosby? Norm Crosby was a comedian in the 1970s, who made his career on “Malapropisms.” That means “the unintentional use of a wrong word.” In other words, Norm Crosby used to make people laugh by “goofing up” the English language. For example, if someone insulted him, he would say, “Hey, I resemble that remark!” But for him, the wrong words were not unintentional, and he was hilarious!
Well, the reason I bring him up is that years ago I heard him goof up the word “pinnacle.” And he’s ruined the word for me ever since! In that vein, he would have called this message today, not “The Pinnacle of Creation,” but “The Pinochle of Creation.” Thanks to Norm Crosby, I can no longer hear the word “pinnacle” without thinking “pinochle!” Of course, Pinochle is a card game, but Pinnacle means “the highest point” of something, “the greatest achievement.” Pinnacle means “the zenith,” or “the acme.” (Or the Giant, or the A&P!)
Last week we talked about the Creation story in Genesis chapter one. And this week I want to take the discussion a step further and talk about what I’m calling “the pinnacle of creation.” And it is this.” On the sixth day, in his crowning achievement, in the highest point, at the pinochle of creation, God created humankind” – Us! That was the end of the story we read last week, and it’s the point at which I want us to continue today.
As part of the Summer curriculum for Kirkwood, we talked about creation. And I told the kids not to miss the miracles in creation all around them. Of course that’s a great thought for being out in a camp setting. But, I also told them to think beyond that. I told them not to miss seeing all the amazing miracles of creation sitting around them! Maybe tha’ts the part of the miracle we miss the most! Wouldn’t we deal with people differently if we thought of everybody we met, and everyone we talked to, as “the pinnacle of Gods Creation!”
Well, that’s what I want us to think about today. I want us to think about the amazing miracles God created in each of us, and of the relationship God placed us in with each other, and with him. That’s what this story is about. That relationship was intentional, it was meant from the very start, it was beautiful, and it still is!
So first of all, I want us to notice that Genesis two is a second telling of the story of creation. In today’s world, we would call it “Creation II – the sequel.” And it starts with a focusing in on the last part of the previous story. At the end of chapter one, on the sixth day of creation, God said, “Let us make man in our image. Male and female he created them.”
Well, in this chapter, Genesis focuses in on that event. It gives us a more detailed account of the pinnacle of Creation. In verse 7 we have this wonderful description of the mist coming up from the ground and God forming man from that mist and the dust of the earth. We can almost see him forming the shape and making the man. Then it says “he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” Isn’t that great? What a simple, yet beautiful way to describe that moment! In Fred Warings version of this moment, he describes it as God, the great creator of the ends of the universe, getting down on his knees, and forming the man, working the clay with his hands. (It’s an old musical called “God’s Trombones” and its based on James Weldon Johnson’s book by that name from 1927. And its full of wonderful imagery like that!)
Notice also that in both the ancient Hebrew and even the New Testament Greek, there is a very close relationship between the word for “breath” and the word for “spirit.” They’re often the same word in those languages. So there is a sense where this can be read that God, “breathed into the mans nostrils the spirit of life.” So you see, this wasn’t just the start of “respiration” – the start of breathing, it was the start of the man having life, and especially life in God’s image!
I want you to think about that amazing imagery today. I want you to think about God breathing his spirit into the man. And I want you think about that as we think of humankind as the pinnacle of Creation. And I’d like you to consider this. We were created in God’s image in Genesis one. But from then on we live in God’s image. Because being created in his image is not just a matter of our appearance, though I imagine there is something to that. But we live in God’s image, too! And I think that means many things.
For one, we are “reasoning beings.” We are aware of our own existence and we know our beginning – and our end. We can use our reason to “figure things out.” That gift of reason is God’s image in us. That places us at the pinnacle of his creation. That sets us apart.
Don’t get me wrong here! The animal world is pretty amazing, too! (My wife would want me to say that!) And that’s part of the incomprehensible nature of the universe! Just the instinctual behaviors of animals alone is incredible! I’ve talked before about the time my dog Tasha had her puppies. (12 of them!) What she knew how to do, to birth them and then take care of them, was simply unbelievable! She had never had puppies before. She had never seen another dog have puppies. But she knew exactly what to do! Her instincts were amazing!
Still, animals don’t reason in quite the same way we humans do! Certainly they have varying levels of intelligence. They are loyal. They’re able to learn many things. I believe God did incredible things when he created the animal world. But! We humans have been endowed with something more. That’s part of the image of God in us.
We are in the image of God because we are reasoning beings. We are also created in God’s image in that we can create, ourselves. That was also part of the camp curriculum this year, and I thought it was a good point. We told the kids that we are created in God’s image and that means we have the ability to create!
Sometimes I like to joke about “dirt and rocks.” The idea is, when we humans started out, that’s pretty much all we had – dirt and rocks. And everything you see around you in the world which is “man made,” has been created by humans who started with just dirt and rocks. (And sticks, I guess.) So, it follows that if one group of people or one country is superior to another in that way, it just means that they did more with their dirt and rocks than the others!
We are in God’s image because we create. That’s pretty amazing! And we are also in God’s image in that we are in relationship with God. Thats what this secondary creation story is about. We are in relationship, we have knowledge of and intimacy with, God! And we were created because God wanted that relationship. That’s the reason we were created. Again, in Fred Waring’s version, God said, “I’m lonely. I think I’ll make a man!” And so part of God’s image in us is the desire for companionship with him.
Now, you know that there are those who really don’t care about this second part of the story. They’re content with reading Genesis one. They’re fine with there being a Creator. Theyre fine with the idea of “intelligent design” of the universe. But it stops there. They’re uncomfortable with Genesis two, which says “That intelligent designer wants to be in relationship with you.” But that’s what the whole Bible is about. Genesis two is the real story of creation! Genesis one is really the “prequel.” It was the setup. Genesis two is about “the pinnacle of creation!”
Friends, there are a lot of “Genesis one people” around. Not that that isn’t important! I hope you do consider the beauty of creation. I hope, like I asked you last week, that you’ve been looking around at God’s “incomprehensible” universe. (And thank you for that word, Einstein!) I hope you keep seeing it that way. But that’s only the beginning. The pinnacle of that creation is us. We were created for God’s pleasure. We were created to be in relationship with him. We were created to have companionship with him, and vice-versa. That’s his image in us. I hope that’s part of the picture for you!
Well, the last way we were created in God’s image is that we seek relationships with each other. That’s Gods image in us, too. In another wonderful piece of imagery in this story, God removes Adams rib and creates Eve. And why? Because, as he says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” So God created his people with the desire to be in relationship. In this case, the most intimate of relationships. But if you think about it, we seek relationships all around us. That’s because we are like God in that way. Not only did he “wire us” that way to be in relationship, that’s his image in us.
You see, God knew, and through his image in us we know too, that it truly is “not good to be alone.” If you think about it, some of the most difficult times in our lives are times of aloneness, or times when relationships have been lost or broken. Think of the anguish we go through at such times of loss. That’s part of “the deal!” That’s part of God’s image in us!
So then, in all this, please remember that we are the pinnacle of God’s creation. We were created in his image. Like our creator God, we too create. Like our God who desires relationship, we too desire relationship. God’s creation is an amazing story. But it’s incomplete if we only have Genesis one. So today I ask you to be a “Genesis two person!” Don’t just know about creation. Know the creator! Know, that you are created in his image! You are the pinnacle of his creation! And you are created to be in relationship with him!
Eternal and incomprehensible God, you have made us in your image, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. Help us to know you. Help us to know what it is in us that makes us like you. Help us to seek and to find that deeper relationship with you, the relationship for which we were made. And help us to have that relationship with one another, as together we are the body of Christ. For this we pray in his name, Amen.