September 8 Lesson

September 8, 2013: Lesson 2
Genesis 1-2; 5:1-2
God’s Image: God Meets our need for relationships
[Key Verse: Gen 2:18] Then the Lord God said, I will make him a helper that is perfect for him.

By Rev. Dr. John Brantley
Order in the Cosmos
There are clearly two accounts of God’s work of creation in Genesis. The first is focused on order. The clear process and development of life from chaos and darkness is transformed through divine light and goodness. It is the process that reveals the relationship of interdependence of all creation.
Wind and Spirit, light and dark, day and night, sky and sea, plants and planets, stars and seasons, creatures of the water and air, with those on the land declare God’s order of formation and development, with the pinnacle reflecting God’s image in humanity. Our place is linked directly in the order of creation. Our purpose is to reflect God’s orderly work of multiplication.
God is the author of math and science, of geology and physics, of order and relationship. Gen. 1.27+ defines multiplication of God’s work as the creator’s prescription for our work. All the parts and pieces develop in a process. Without the connective tissue all the parts of creation are chaos and emptiness. The image God reflects is an ordered relationship. 
Generational Context
The second account begins with the concept of a generation. This would be the span of time, era or epoch when the cycle of life begins, fades and renews as a new generation. Verse 2.4 clearly reveals heaven and earth created in multiple generations. The heart of the passage is that God is the agent of decision and cause. Before there were seasons and structures, there was God making the plans and design. 
Human beings are part of that creative process and product that is filled with God’s plan and breath. We are caused into existence with purpose and responsibility. Both of these tasks are given from one generation to the next.  The formation of a garden is intentional. A garden without plan or tending is wilderness and chaos. God designs a garden for multiple people over various periods of time.
We have the practice of naming introduced in creative work. Our naming of family and those we cherish, assumes a deeper relationship. Humanity and creation are named that we might share from one generation to the next the foundational order and purpose given to us. That God designs for us a life of relationship, in a context of connected relationships, that is to be shared over time. The bottle line: God planned for us to be together and designed for it to be lived together through time.
Refinement of the Relationship
If the awesomeness of creation and its beautiful interconnectedness are not enough to reveal God’s work and purpose there comes the first rule. The tree in the middle of the garden is a single contrast for the meaning of our relationship. Imagine God designs a full buffet of food and says; don’t eat the butter in the middle of your plate. Steak, blue cheese, lobster, yeast rolls and cheesecake: The rest is yours. The butter is off limits. Not the butter! Why would God do that? 
The setting of boundaries, the defining of the holy and profane, and the division of good and evil are God’s way of explaining the relationship. Not so much as of a test or list, rather to give tangible ways to know the type of relationship God wants for us. By not eating the butter we would acknowledge that we trust God’s design, we want what God wants for us, and we know God has our best interest at the heart of our relationship. Thankfully it was a tree in the center of the garden and not a pot of drawn butter. It is my cardiologist that liked the butter idea.
God’s Likeness
The fifth chapter of Genesis begins with the affirmation that God’s purpose and order for both creation and us is a God determined relationship. We reflect God’s image when we reflect the order God reveals. We don’t have to show God’s image. We visit the tree in the middle of the garden and call it ours to enjoy. It is then that we are out of relationship. 
What is God like? If God’s likeness is in our relationship does the world have God’s answer or our answer? God has invested everything in us to answer this question for one another and ourselves. Is there order in our church, home and lives or chaos? Are we trusting God design to be connected or separated? God has been clear about trusting us with God’s the relationship. The task is to response with responsibility, grace and devotion.
Faithful Daily Actions: 
Easy: Take a look at the stars at night and marvel at their consistency and order. Examine a flower and wonder at its simplicity and complexity. Give thanks to God for the beauty and order around us. 
Challenge:  Reflect on the parts of your life that are in chaos. Money, family or health might be easy places to start. What does God want you to reflect from your faith relationship? Start today to get things in order and let God’s design shine through you.
Suggested for Singing: For the Beauty of the Earth, Hymn of Promise
Prayer: God who brings life into darkness order our lives and let your light shine through us. Show us your ways of being in relationship with one another. Amen.
Rev. Dr. John Brantley is an elder serving the Jackson UMC in Jackson, Georgia and shares his weekly sermon notes at