Friday, September 5, 2014

In The Beginning - a talk about God

It's a big, bad, broad subject.

Lets look at some scripture and then we'll get down to it.

Colossians 1:15-20

New International Version (NIV)

The Supremacy of the Son of God

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Well, you've heard me say it several times. As the wisdom has been shared with me, if you're not sure where to start then start at the beginning. We are about to embark on a journey. This journey has to do with that graph we used a few weeks ago. We will take it a subject at a time, an issue at a time, a matter at a time and keep going with the subject of sanctification and salvation in the backdrop.

Looking at a big, empty graph like what we began with the question is raised as to where we should begin. When we started filling in that graph with subjects and issues and people that make up our lives everyone spoke out some very interesting and important things. We'll get to those subject in the coming weeks. A good place to begin would be at the beginning. If we are starting there then it begs that we contemplate the subject and person of God. Maybe God was in your graph. Maybe not. I'm sure for some that this will be confusing. If we're talking about God, then aren't we referring to Jesus? Jesus is God. Not quite yet. For the Christian it is easy to make that jump. We covered the idea of wanting Jesus all over the graph, in every area of our lives. If you're making the jump from God to Jesus, then feel free to fill in that square in your graph. Jesus owns it. You still have to sit through the message.

However, God is a very broad subject in the mind of a human. Some people do believe in God. Some people choose not to. In many cases, the one who says they believe has not confirmed a real, definitive person. It's very wishy washy. It's becomes like something out of a Star Wars movie. "Use the force, Luke" The view for some is that God can be in anything. God can be anything. A tree. An animal. A stone or iron statue. God takes on some very broad ideas left outside of the scope in which Christianity interprets the matter.

We see statistics that indicate that there is a great percentage of people out there who believe in God. It's easy to take that for granted and assume that it means many people believe as we, the Christians, believe. But, God is a big, bad, broad subject outside of the realm of Christianity. Many people believe in "God" or "god" or a feeling, a force, an emotion, something they determine rules all. Even if the term God is not used, there is most assuredly something in the life that we look to for guidance or comfort. Could that be your "God"?

What we will aim to do in this message is clearly define what we mean, what we believe and what we are saying about God. There is so much to cover here on the subject of God. I could spend an untold numbers of Sundays just covering the Person of God. And, yet, the Almighty is in ALL of this. Every subject we will cover in the coming weeks and months involves God. I could say so much about the subject of God outside of Christianity. Outside of the absoluteness we find in our own faith, yes, the subject of God is broad and vast with many different beliefs and view points. However, even inside of our own faith, the matter before us begins with a God who creates and originates everything in the image of Himself and then seemingly pulls away. There is distance and a break down in fellowship with humankind. Centuries of God being afar are suddenly brought to an end in the Person of Jesus Christ. God is now on earth walking around with the creation. Only this time, the Almighty is actually in human flesh. The Incarnation of God. The Only Begotten of the Father.

When we say we believe in God, what exactly are we saying? Do we really grasp what that means? When someone is asked if they believe in God the answers might seems similar with a positive answer, but digging further into what a person says they believe will bring many different perspectives to the surface. There are struggles in how exactly we define God. What do we call God? He? She? In recent years I find myself wanting to avoid the debate all together. My instructor for the Course of Study class "The Church as Transforming Agent" said that he seeks to cut out all gender language completely. If he can get away with using "God" or "the LORD" or "the Almighty" or some formal title found in the scriptures, then that's what he does. Our objective as Christians is to divert the world attention to God without getting caught up in the arguments that derail our chances to share who God truly is. God can loves us like a father and God can nurture us like a mother. The point is not to try and define exactly which one God is. The point is to lift God up and make the Lord the most important person in the room. Not using gender terms proves to be quite a challenge.

Well, I feel like I have rambled for awhile and not truly said much. There's so much to say about God it is easy to get lost in it. So, what does scripture have to say about God that we could grab a hold of for our lives? Lets look at some scripture we used this morning...

Genesis 1

New International Version (NIV)

The Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

In the beginning...God created...
In who's beginning? Our beginning. God was already there. God has always been. Before there was anything else, there was God. And one special attribute about this person. God creates. What was there before all of this? The earth? The sky? The universe with all it's stars and planets? We don't know for sure. And, maybe we don't have to know. What we believe is that there is a God and that this God created all of this. And, maybe that's enough. We attribute all of this to the Creator. Lets call God that - the Creator. God made everything we see. Everything we enjoy. Everything we dislike. God gave life to all of it. Simply because God wanted to. We aren't given any reasoning behind why God wanted to create all of this. So, we assume it was simply because God desired to do so.

But, we read that even after creating all that had been created there was still something more that was brought into existence. Something called a human being. Our scriptures say that humans were made in the image of God. What exactly is that? Maybe we should look at how we define the word, image. Now it's most popularly used as and thought of as a noun. An image. It's thing. A picture. A photo. something taken. made you have an image of your grandparents on the wall at home. Artist make their living bringing images to life on a canvas. Ah, but that should lead us to another idea. And, as I have done so many time, as I scrolled down the page I found the word used in a much more illustrious sense. It's also used as a verb.

Huh? I can see the question mark go up above some folks heads. You've probably never thought of image as an action word, a verb. Well check this out and see how much better it ties in with the idea of who God is and what God does.

Definition of IMAGE

transitive verb
1:  to call up a mental picture of :  imagine
2:  to describe or portray in language especially in a vivid manner
3 a :  to create a representation of; also :  to form an image of <imaged Jupiter's rings> <image the bone using X-rays>
   b :  to represent symbolically
4 a :  reflect, mirror
   b :  to make appear :  project
Hmmm. That'll make you chew your burrito a little slower. Much to contemplate there.
We are made (note the action word, there) in image of God. If God were to be a human being, this is what God would look like. Is that too much to say? Wow. We are made in the image of God. What does God look like then? Ooooo. Tricky question. The Apostle would state that "no one has ever seen God?" We don't know what God looks like. The statement is rather one sided. Being created in the image of God doesn't allow us to look back at the Creator to see what exactly God looks like. We know what we look like. And, that's all we have to go on. We were created in the image of God. Does God have a mind? Must have. Does God have feelings? If we feel then I would imagine God does also. Can God make decisions? If all of this was created by God then there must have been a choice in doing it. Body. Soul. Spirit. The scriptures state that God would come and walk with his creation in the garden. See the verb-age in that statement. It's not just a theological statement, but a personal affection from the Creator to the creation. God desires to be with that which has been created. 

God does not wish to be distant from the creation. The motivations of the creation has caused the Creator to be distant. God will not be where sin is. And, there is much sin in this realm. We noted from the book of Romans last week, "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..."  Boy, there's another word that begs us to understand who God is. Glory. If we were created in the image of God, then there must have been something special about that existence. Something beyond our scope of reasoning. What does Paul mean "glory" of God? Well, once again, it's chiefly used as a noun. As it were a specific thing. Maybe you could wrap it up as a present or put it in an envelope and actually give it to some one. "Here you go." And, yes, if it's used in that sense then it's also can be used as a verb. See the action of glory.

Definition of GLORY

intransitive verb
:  to rejoice proudly —used with in
The glory of God. Who is God? Someone above all things. Someone we ascribe great praise to that no one else in all of creation deserves. God made all things. God deserves all praise. God is to be proudly rejoiced in. To be in the image of God means we are like God, but we are not God. Likeness is not something to be attained. We cannot be God. God is above all. We glory in God. God, in all of the glory, came down to be with mankind. God would take on this human existence, being like us. Listen to the scripture speak to us.

John 1

New International Version (NIV)

The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
Are we getting deep enough for you all? We've determined that God was there in the beginning. God created everything. Now contemplate for a moment. God needs words. The Word. God speaks and light simple becomes. Plants come into being. Animals have life. And, from the dust of the ground man comes forth. From man a bone is taken and another human being is formed. God uses words to craft all that we see. There is life in the words. God is life. God is light. 

And, yet, all of this may seem vague. There is still a broadness that yearns to be defined and understood. We've used a list of terms to try and define what and who God is. It is the Person of the Incarnation that we find a definitiveness that cannot be shaken. The Person of Jesus Christ. 

God can be a very broad subject until we approach the subject of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, we put a name and face to our God. Our scripture from Colossians we open with the statement "The Son is the image of the invisible God". God may have seemed distant and vague before. Now God has come close. Jesus is the Word. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." The Word is God. Within the Jewish framework of the family comes the idea that the Son is the same as the Father. Both represent the name and the family. Both speak with the authority of the family name. The human being called Jesus is born through the power of the Holy Spirit. The power of God made his birth possible. God became flesh. The man named Jesus is also God, the Son of God. Jesus comes to do the will of the Father. The Son has the same authority on earth that the Father does. Because of that claim and that authority Jesus can state that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. God makes provision for the sin that separates mankind from God. There is no other way to find salvation. This does not mix with any other religion on the earth. God is no longer this broad, undefined subject. The definition of God is found in Jesus.

We start this matter of covering the graph by approaching the subject of God.
God is at the beginning. Do you believe in God? Many people do. Can you define God? Do you know who God is? Maybe a better question to ask is, "Does God know you?"  You, who are the image of the Almighty God. Does God know you? Have you approached God seeking salvation? There is but one way to find that much needed salvation. The Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God. So, when you approach God looking for what you need in your soul, you are approaching the one who created it all. God is the one responsible for your life. God wants to give you life, in your mind, your heart, your soul. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Have you been reconciled to God? Brought back to the Creator of all things? Do you have peace in your heart and soul? Peace begins with God. In your graph, can you write the word "Jesus" across that square because you know that God has you and knows you? Do you believe and know that Jesus is your Way, your Truth, your Life? Invite God to come in and make all things new in your heart.

The Creator reconciled to the creation.

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