I Only Have Genesis-Eyes for You
Today we too return to Genesis 2:18-25 and the Garden at its beginning to think not how I want to think, but to consider how God designed this to be and to dream again with Genesis-Eyes for you. “I Only Have Genesis-Eyes for You.” October 7, 2018.
“I’ve lost faith in humanity.” Ever heard someone say that? They have some sense of an age of humanity a day or an era where humankind is actually nice to each other, warm to each other's needs, with plenty of room in the heart for random generosity. And when they don't see it happening and the dream just won't ever come true, they find a way to say that they're losing faith in humanity.
But hearing that has never bothered me. Probably because the bar set for humanity in Scripture couldn't be lower. It's a fallen bar for a fallen people. But what does concern me, and concerns you too, is our faith in God and our trust in his vision and design for relationships in this world. What happens when those in the Church embrace a new design for marriage or understanding of gender identity or what constitutes relational commitment and love? What happens if the Pharisees preach a practically pagan view of marital faithfulness, reducing its committed love to “the least I can do and the most I can selfishly get away with”? Did you hear their twisted use of Scripture? “Moses says, ‘if husbands don't like their wives, all you need is that small courtesy of writing her a certificate of divorce’ and you can fling the one you once called “my love” out the door and move on.
But the Pharisees of old aren’t the only ones who approach relationships with smallest effort, the cheapest price to offer, so cheap it should never be called love. What sort of vision about humanity has settled into your system? I don’t want to be comfortable with just any old vision when I look at you. I want to know God’s dream for us again and live that dream as best I can. I want it to be rich and complex, filled again with a thousand dreams of what we can be when we’re together as a community, as friends, as family.
Today we follow Jesus’ pattern, as he took those sadly mistaken Pharisees back to the spirit of the Garden. He showed them a different view of humanity, gender, and marriage. So, we too return to Genesis and the Garden at its beginning to think not how I want to think, but to consider how God designed this to be and to dream again with Genesis-Eyes for you.
It would be one thing for us to go back to Genesis together this morning and put ourselves in Adams place and imagine what it was like to live as the only person on the planet. If you were to think, "what would I be missing?" You might feel some relief. After all, we have experienced no earthly relationships untouched by the wrecking ball of sin. There is no paradise friend, no perfect spouse and no obedient child on our planet. I'm sure the world would be a very peaceful and quiet place without others in it! But we'd be mistaken, our imagining would be off, if we forgot that Adam wasn't alone, he was with God. Genesis chapter 2 is the beautiful telling of Day 6, and of how God made Adam, his special creature made in his own image, more and more conscious of the countless blessings God placed around him and intended for him. Adam was sinless, but he wasn't all-knowing. And here we get to see him receive this life with God moment by moment like its Christmas and all the gifts under the tree say, “To Adam, From Me again.”
“He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.” And he took him and put him in the Garden...he walked him and talked him into Eden, his first home and perfect place of employment. And he points to the trees and the special ones in the middle as he commanded Adam, his dear, special Adam, not to eat from just that one, giving him a Word of God to worship and adore, a chance to grow and confirm his conscious life as holy before his Maker.
Well, now it's time for that very special gift to be given, you know that big box that comes out from behind the tree, and it all starts with: the Lord God said, “it is not good for the man to be alone.” He doesn't say it's not good for someone to be single he says it's not good for man to be alone it's the focus of this one little word to talk to us about how we were made to be with other people. There's a reason people who are alone for long periods of time can go crazy. There's a reason solitary confinement is a thing, and so is skin to skin contact for a newborn and visiting the elderly and shut-in. The reason is God’s design. Think about it – what does it mean for you to look someone else in the eye to hear someone else's voice communicating with you to feel the touch of another human being the warmth of a hug.
I can remember when Caleb was a little younger and asked for a typewriter. I have no idea why he wanted it but there is this cheap thrift store one that we brought home one day and you're wondering, “what is he going to type on it?” as he rolls the paper up through the scroller or whatever you call it. So, I'm hovering over his shoulder for this first moment, and patiently watching as he takes his fingers to peck out letter by letter and find a space bar in between just to carry his secret letter through the air and silently hand it to mom who reads, "I love you mommy.” And the next note said I love you Emma and I love you Gabrielle.
What is that? What desire to connect? We have learned so much from fields like psychology to help us understand more and more what human relationships mean to us and how they have an impact on us. I think about the way people say when they borrow something or stay at someone's else’s vacation place...they say, “we want to leave it better than we found it.”
That's the where this little word "alone” urges us to think about each other. When I meet someone when I find someone do I leave them feeling more alone and distant from people or am I serving the purpose of the design of God by giving them a companion in life, A shoulder to cry on and a pat on the back to keep going. This isn’t short or simple at home, is it? It’s nothing close to that cheap view of relationships that the Pharisees had.
Standing find all these relational blessings we can receive from people is a loving God who designed it that way and when we abuse these relationships in which people feeling alone inside in some way, shape or form we are sinning against God. and despite all of this, his love is something that endures forever because he has made it so who is Jesus is on son. He's taken all of the pain upon himself all of the burden on himself just so that we might know that we are never alone in our struggle I never alone without pain and God has given us that kind of foundation to be those who wrestled with this sin and return to Genesis two for fresh eyes.
All this and more is in that little word “alone and quote. Just watch there’s more! God has Adam experience this first hand he spends the rest of this chapter on the creation of the woman and Adam is showing all of the animals to see what he would name them. What a first-hand opportunity to soak up all of God’s creation with its variety and great creativity and perfect design I’m display in every single creature he saw. Naming them was a great way for God to allow him to taste this fall and only the distinctions as Adam came up with the perfect names to delineate the differences between God’s creatures. And as cool a moment as that is in and of itself, it’s also a build up to this epic hall that’s sort of left waiting in the wings God‘s great special unique creature that his woman the suitable helper is not been found.
We all know where the world is on gender differences in gender roles and gender identity but God’s story of talking about the creation of the woman as a suitable helper for man is nothing less than beautiful. Adam has already tasted the full mouthful of what it is to be alone and to notice the great variety in the creative power of God and now we have the deep sleep God caused to add him. Such a special place like the rehab he uses take from the man and make a woman. Adam is so ready by this time. he is so ready to write this poem to confess out loud what a wonderful gift from God this is bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. God, you did not make another me. you made a helper suitable for me. You made a woman taken from man. this is the difference in unity this is something the world doesn’t understand that we could harness the great gift of God and blessing that God has designed to be my celebrating the differences as the blessings that they are.
To add to the crescendo of this song, all of these blessings and this consciousness of Adam in the special gift of God in woman is also leading to that solid foundation of a home that God is building. Therefore, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. These are not just words to parrot, but for spouses to spell out by how they live together. Unity? One flesh? The words themselves are part mystery that challenge us to consider just what marriage means, whether you are a spouse this morning or not.
With what eyes do we view marriage and witness it to friends or to a boyfriend or girlfriend? With what words will you talk about it and encourage those you know who are married? Sex outside of marriage, living together are just obvious examples of cheap and selfish views. There is nothing but hell to pay for even the hint of anything less than oneness between spouses. Please, don't make it small and offend the Designer.
Too often we quit in some ways big or small on relationships because they are not perfect, nothing like the plan, but frustrating and hard. Yet Sin was not some impossible obstacle to derail God, his design, or his love. Where sin increased, Paul says, grace increased all the more. We expect, don't we, only to see and experience the increase of sin in our world, where the love of most continues to grow cold. , but today we proclaim the truth that even after sins many blows against us and through us, even in the midst of all our weaknesses, with round after round of our imperfection pounding through sinful fists and selfish aiming, it is not God who lies fallen and defeated, numb to mankind’s needs growing bruised and more, loveless or distancing himself in the least from sinners. No, here the vision of his grace can be seen, how far his love will go.
I pray that today has pushed the limits and opened large the dimensions of God’s desired love you have for people, for family, for spouses. But just as clearly as we see God’s design for complex love in the mirror today and shriek to see dark selves in the fullness of its light, so this is an opportunity, a new day. See what forgiveness means and what a chance is ours as God’s people to love not when we desire it, but because of him, his design, and his love for us. You may have lost faith in humanity long ago, God gives us every reason in Genesis to keep our eyes of faith firmly on him, his design, and his love. Amen.
Preached at Grace Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, WI on October 7, 2018