The “E” word

Genesis 1:2

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Genesis 1

Today, we focus on the schedule of God creation. When we put the days of creation in a table we’ll get this:

Day 1: Light Day 4: Sun, Moon, Stars
Day 2: Sea and Sky Day 5: Fish and Birds
Day 3: Land,Plants Day 6: Animals,Human

Day 7: Sabbath

We can see the relation between the left column (day 1,2,3) and the right column (day 4,5,6). Using political lingo, what was created on day 1,2,3 are the domains, what was created on day 4,5,6 are the rulers of those domains. I am more of a scientist than a politician – so I like to use more environmental words, habitats and inhabitants. In fact, the Hebrew words that NIV translates as “formless” and “empty” carries the meaning as “uninhabitable” and “uninhabited”.

God did not create Life in a vacuum. God created lives within their Environments (The “E” word). For the Israelite (who were the original audiences of this message) God was not sending them into a barren desert. Instead God had prepared for them a “Land of milk and honey”. The habitat was ready and it is waiting for its rightful inhabitants.

God never hangs us out to dry. God doesn’t put us in an environment where we are doomed. God intends for us to flourish in our environments.

In our modern workplace, our environment consists not only of land, sea, sky and plants, (although those are still very important). Our work environment has buildings, it has culture, it has technology. As God’s agents, how do we shape and modify our work environment where we can all flourish? Or do we feel that we have been hung out to dry?

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Intinsic Value

Matthew :28-29

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

One of the most sought-after luxury items in the world is the Rolex watch. A Rolex is indeed a work of art and a wonderful piece of engineering – with intricate design and precise movement. Wearing a Rolex has become a symbol of success.

The wealthiest man in Bible is Solomon. In all his splendor, he would have much more than a Rolex can reflect. Yet, in term of glory and aesthetics he would be no match to a simple dandelion.

Modern biologists would agree to Jesus’ evaluation. The most complex known DNA belongs to a rare Japanese lily (scientific name Paris Japonica). This beauty’s DNA is 50 times longer than that of a human. But we don’t have to go to the extremes. We have spend millions upon millions to understand the simplest life form – let alone design and create.

The fundamental difference between God’s creation and human creation is LIFE. God creates living systems, people create mechanical systems. Mechanical systems are simple and predictable. Living systems are complex and sometimes unpredictable. However living systems are intelligent, robust and adaptive.

Our society have realized that “organic” is the future – at least for groceries. The challenge that the creation story poses to us is to extend the organic way to managing our work – to look our co-workers as living breathing human rather than productivity, look at our customers and clients as living being rather than revenue.

Let’s be alive!

For we are kings

Genesis 1:26-28

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

It is not difficult to realize that verse 28 is a close repetition of verse 26. In the bible, this is called command-fulfillment formula. When command-fulfillment formula is found, it usually indicates that the one making the command has power and authority to “make things happen”. Obviously, this formula is mostly applied to God himself.

God, the one who has the ultimate authority, has granted us human the authority to rule over the biosphere. “Ruling” is not only what we do, it is who we are. For we are created in the image of God.

This bring us to verse 27. Verse 27 is a chiasm – which is theologians’ fancy way of saying that its content is arrange in a cross-over way. (The Greek letter ‘chi’ is shape like the English letter ‘X’ – a cross) A simple chiasm is ABB’A’, a more fancy one would be ABCC’B’A’, or even ABCDEFFEDCBA. So let us discover the chiasm in verse 27:

So God created mankind (A) in his own image (B),

in the image of God (B’) he created them (A’);

male and female (B”) he created them (A”).

(A = God created mankind, B = image of God.)

So what does this mean? It means that “male and female” are equally the image of God. In the our plurality is found the image of God who is the Trinity. (cf. verse 26 – Let US create mankind in OUR image.)

While we are called to rule over the creation on this planet, we are NOT called to rule over one another. Male and Female are equally the image of God, and should not be oppressing each other. Masters and slaves are equally the image of God. Bosses and workers are equally the image of God. Presidents, civil servants, criminals and welfare-recipients are equally the image of God.

What a tremendous declaration! A declaration that is revolutionary in ancient time as well as in modern time. So look around you, look at your family, look at your co-workers, look at the cafeteria lady. and re-discover our image of God.

An epic prolog to an epic adventure

Isaiah 40:28-29

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

It was a motivational speech that appeared in a sport apparel ad – “This is our house!When they come here and play, they play by OUR RULES! Nobody beat us in OUR HOUSE!”. When a football team play in their home stadium, there is fan support, extra energy, more pride.

Genesis chapter 1 is the prolog, the motivational speech if you want, to a battle infinitely more significant to any championship game. It is the fight for survival of the nation of Israel – a nation that is destined to be pivotal in the salvation of all human. It is the beginning of a quest that will change human history for eternity.

But who are the players in this battle? The Israelite had been slaves for 400+ years. They never experienced owning anything – let alone owning their own land. They never had a home field advantage. 400 years of slavery definite will put a loser’s mentality into anyone’s head.

So the Genesis story start by a declaration: “This is OUR land”. This is our land, because the Creator of Heaven and Earth had promised this land to us. We are not runaway slave invading a foreign land. We are rightful heirs who come to reclaim what is rightfully ours. To top it all of, our God – the Creator and therefore the Owner of heaven and earth – is walking in front of us in a pillar of fire and cloud. He is on our team.

When we walk into our offices today, are we walking into our “Promised Land”? or are we walking into a “land of slavery”? It all depends on who is on your team.