I wonder if you have seen the BBC TV programme called “Who do you think you are?” It showed its 100th episode this week. It’s a programme in which famous people investigate their family tree to find out who their relatives were, and what they did for a living. Past episodes have included Bruce Forsyth, Stephen Fry, Julie Walters and Boris Johnson, amongst others. These celebrities want to find out where they come from, who they are, and perhaps what their own vocation in life should be. As they look at the records of their family history, they understand more about themselves.
In many ways, the Bible book of Genesis contains the family history of humanity. It can help us learn vital truths about God, about the world and about ourselves. It can help us know our Creator and our place in his creation. The book of Genesis can even help us also enlarge our view of Jesus Christ. Because both our New Testament readings this morning refer back to Genesis to help us appreciate how great and glorious Jesus is. He is our creator and sustainer, as well as our Saviour.
- God was before the beginning!
So what can we learn from Genesis? Firstly, Genesis tells us that God pre-dates the cosmos. God was around before the beginning of the world! “In the beginning” says Genesis 1:1, and God was already there! Atoms aren’t ultimate reality, God is! So we should look beyond the material world for our identity, purpose and guidance in life. Secular society believes that matter is all there is. People try to maximise their material possessions as if they were ultimate reality. As if our accumulation of material things is what is most valuable and most important in life. Money and possessions have become gods, idols and objects of worship for so many.
But Genesis reminds us to worship God. Our lives should be oriented around him. We should honour and thank him for all that he has made. And if God is eternal, then he is the one person we can look to for eternal life ourselves. Only the God who gave life to the universe can give eternal life to us as well.
Our New Testament readings from John and Colossians also remind us that the everlasting Creator of the universe isn’t a solitary being but a loving Trinity. Father, Son and Spirit were in an eternal relationship of love before any Big Bang took place. John’s Gospel deliberately echoes Genesis when it says, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. And Colossians chapter 1 tells us that this Word was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He existed “before all things” and by him “all things were created”. Astonishingly, the Jesus who walked in Palestine was the same person who once threw the stars into space.
- We are creatures, not products of chance!
Secondly, the opening chapter of Genesis also reminds us that we are creatures, not products of chance. Whichever way God made us (whether by evolution or a more miraculous mechanism) there is no doubt we are made and designed. The universe, with its stars, planets, plants, animals and people, is an ordered and deliberate creation, not a chance occurrence.
The universe was designed and detailed by a supreme intelligence. The cosmos comes from the mind of God, not from chance. Christian scientists can point to many wonderful features of the universe that reflect its divine origin. For example, they point to its fine-tuned laws of nature – the “cosmic constants” that bring order to the universe. They also cite the complex DNA codes that are the building blocks of life – evidence of a supreme intelligence behind the visible world. And they also point to the mystery of consciousness, arguing that our minds can only have their ultimate origin in the mind of God, not matter.
The good news is that if we are created beings, not products of chance, then our lives can have purpose and meaning. One way or another, we were all made with a purpose in mind. We are a work of craftsmanship, not cosmic junk. God has purposes and plans for all our lives. Above all, he has made us to know him, to love him, and to love one another. If we really are created, there is no need for us to despair or lose hope. We can know our Creator and be known by Him. Above all, our Creator God has revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. As John’s Gospel tells us, Jesus was the Word of God who “became flesh” and “dwelt among us”.
- God is in charge of the cosmos!
Thirdly, and finally, Genesis reminds us that God is in charge of the cosmos. God is described in Genesis as having ultimate power and authority. He speaks, and things happen. God’s words are the ultimate authority in the world, not chaos, chance or even human beings. As creatures of a good and powerful creator we shouldn’t try to make up right and wrong, and decide for ourselves what is best. Frank Sinatra famously sang “I did it my way”, but that isn’t the right way. We should do things God’s way. We should obey the opinion of the one who made us and knows us better than we know ourselves. We should seek help from the God powerful enough to put the stars into space.
So we should listen to God’s words in Scripture to discover how to live. God has a view on every daily decision we make, and an opinion on every ethical dilemma the world faces, from abortion and euthanasia, to war and peace. When faced with difficult decisions we should be wise and take counsel from our Creator. When problems arise, turn in prayer to our Creator. Our Creator who is Christ. As Colossians 1:15 says, Christ “is the firstborn over all creation”. In other words, Christ is our true and rightful King. A ruler we can follow. A leader we can trust. A friend who can help.
As I finish this morning, I hope we’ve be reminded of our place in the universe. We are not a big mistake but creatures made by a loving God. He is in control not chance. And best of all, we can know our Creator personally, through Jesus Christ our Lord.