February 2, 2014
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
“Becoming All We Can Be: A Pretty Good Start”
“God of creation and of wisdom, we do not know when our life will end, but we absolutely know when it began. Help us to set our hearts on things above and not on the wealth and power of this world. We pray this, trusting in Jesus Christ, our highest joy. Amen.”
“Hello, my name is MUD”. Has that ever been what your nametag should have said?
I don’t know what story comes to your mind when you hear those words, but it probably has to do with some big error in judgment you made – maybe you blamed someone for something that went wrong, and you later learned that it was all your fault! “Mud!”
I have a new, upgraded insulin pump, that came with a new blood glucose meter (for those who don’t know, I have Type I Diabetes). So I went to a required training class a couple of weeks ago and programmed my pump to wirelessly connect to my meter so when I do have to test my blood sugar the info goes straight to my pump.
Well, a week later after I never got my meter to talk to my pump, I called the 1-800-help-line and talked with a technician after being on hold for 45 minutes. The tech asked if there was anything in the room that might cause interference with the wireless transmission. I asked, “Like what?” “Well, like a cell phone, or a cordless phone, or a computer, or a TV set, or another person, or a glass of water.” I said, “Seriously? I need to dig a lead-lined bunker in order to test my blood?” and I got sorta frustrated with her.
When I went home and re-checked all my settings, I realized I had put the wrong info into my pump, so my pump was looking for a meter that doesn’t exist. It couldn’t find the meter with the “numbers” I told it to look for. My name was “Mud”! And I didn’t know how to call the 1-800-number and get the same tech to apologize. So my name was “Deep Mud”!
Being “Mud” is a defeating sense of worthlessness – or at least of unworthiness.
This month we will be looking at four Scripture passages, four stories, from Genesis, in a series called “Becoming All We Can Be”. The US Army used to have great recruiting ads on TV, with the tag-line “Be all that you can be! – in the Army!” (Who here just sang that tag-line in your head?)
The truth is – we can never actually be all we can be. If we ever actually reached the pinnacle of “all we can be” – life would end. What comes next? Be more than we can be? That’s a self-defeating goal.
But we can be on the road to becoming all we can be. That’s a road-trip everyone should probably always be on. The Bible calls this the “sanctifying” work of the Holy Spirit – a work which we have the right and the ability to quench. Or, a work we have the right and responsibility to encourage!
Today, we begin this short series by reading from Genesis 1 (please note that I am not reading the whole chapter, but that doesn’t mean that the parts I am skipping are not important – only that I am hitting a few high-points particular to today’s message) …. —-
1 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. …
… 26 Then God said, “Let us make man [Adam] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man [Adam] in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” …
… 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day….
… 2:5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man [Adam] to work the ground, 6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed the man [Adam] of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man [Adam] became a living creature. …
Those of you listening noticed that I inserted the man’s name, Adam, into the story? Actually, that was not his name – that is the Hebrew word used that our English translations have translated as “man”. The name “Adam” actually just means man – or more accurately, humanity, or mankind, or what we used to just call “man”. There is no gender attached to that word. “Male and female He created them.”
You may have also noticed that I also read a few verses from Genesis 2. Look again at Genesis 2:7. From what resource did God create the first human? “Dust from the ground” – dirt, soil, mud! My name really is “Mud”! And, so is yours!
But being named “Mud” is not a bad thing! What does God say after creation? At the end of each day God looks at His work and says, “It is good.” But after the day He created “Adam”, mankind, from the “mud”, God says, “It is very good!”
After all, Genesis 1 says that Adam is created in the image of God! We are created good, happy, loving! We are created to be connected, related, to God! We are created for the purpose of worshiping, glorifying, honoring God!
Genesis 2 says that God “breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life”. No other animal got “breathed into”. The word used for “breathed into” is “inspired” – God’s Holy Spirit entered Adam. We are created in the very image of the perfectness of God!
That’s a pretty good start!
But, in every case ever since then, this pretty good start, this “perfect image of God”, this imago Dei, has been blurred.
Designed/created to be free and loving (image of God), each of us chooses instead to BE god! We want to be important – maybe the “most important!” That was the sin Adam and Eve did in Genesis 3.
And because we have stepped outside our original purpose/design (to know God, “to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever” (Q & A 1 of the Westminster Catechism), we are on a never-ending striving goal to become “worth” something! We wonder if life really has any meaning, any purpose. Or is it, as Shakespeare wrote in MacBeth, “a meaningless tale told by an idiot”?
Regardless of the size of our achievements/accomplishments, we are left with a strange, lonely incompleteness, or a sense that there has to be “more to life than this”.
We read the paper or watch the news, even this afternoon when we watch the Super Bowl and our own Seahawks play – you know, with all the bad calls and jabberwocky talk afterwards – and we wonder, is this life evil and pushing toward death, or is it really good and pressing toward hope?
Does this life really have any meaning and purpose?
Will everything come out all right for me in the end? Will the sun still rise tomorrow regardless of who wins the game this afternoon?
Will life triumph over death somehow? Or will death wear the grim (and only) smile at the end of the game?
Our “sensing”, however vague, that perhaps life can be more than it is sets up a tension inside us as we deal with the real world we live in – cancer, surgery, loss, fear, unemployment, divorce, Bronco victory. And this tension will not allow us to stop when our achievements have secured us enough stuff to eat and drink and be merry. We are driven to get/do more!
We are, it seems, on a never-ending, unconscious search for freedom and wholeness, peace and hope – what the Old Testament calls Shalom. And we keep searching in all the wrong places.
We don’t easily or naturally recognize that all of this dis-ease, this lack of approval and meaning, is the result of our being separated from God!
Our own efforts and good will and good intentions and virtues can not banish the dis-ease!
Somehow we bet all our happiness and fulfillment capital on the wrong “horse” (and I am not necessarily referring to the Broncos this time)! (Go Seahawks!)
Hear the Word of God one more time: Then God said, “Let us make people in our image, after our likeness….” So God created people in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them…. (then the Lord God formed the human of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the human became a living creature. …) … And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
That’s a pretty durn good start! Friend, that means that for you – you are a child of God, a daughter or a son of the King; we are co-heirs with Christ.
Let’s recognize that good start, repent, and receive from our Maker the salvation He offers through Jesus Christ. Which is why we come to the Lord’s Table in a few minutes. As we pray, and bring our offerings to the Lord, and approach the Communion Table, let’s recognize the good start, and ask God’s permission to start over – in full relation to our Maker as our heavenly Father. “Hello, my name is Mud”, and that’s a pretty good start. Amen.
Miller, Keith; The Becomers; Word Books; Waco, TX; 1973; Pp. 113-120.
Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship; Faith Alive Resources; 2012; P. 310.