Created to Connect

October 15, 2017

How many of you grew up with Lego?  Not me, I had the little soft red building blocks when I was a kid. Other kids had Lego, but I had these little red building blocks.

They looked like bricks but they only connected at two points and those points were square, so everything you built had to be square.

You couldn’t do all the cool things with them that you could do with Lego.  Like, you couldn’t build a car, but you could build a wall.  And you couldn’t build a spaceship, but you could build a wall.  You couldn’t build a person, but . . .  you could build a wall.

And I built many a wall when I was a kid.  And I remember being at a friend’s place and discovering Lego for the first time.  All the different sizes and colours, and the different ways they could connect.  Suddenly my walls were unlimited in their potential, all because of the ways the Legos connected.

A few years ago, I was reading a book called “The Sticky Church” and the author Larry Osborne made the observation that most people were like Lego blocks and had a finite number of connections that they could make.  And when their connections points were full that they couldn’t add any more meaningful relationships without removing one or two of the existing connections.

And in the same way that different Lego blocks have different numbers of connection points, 2 4 or six we are all different in our capacity for relationships.

Some folks seem to be fine with only a couple of those relationships, and that’s really all they can handle.  Others are like those Lego mats and the point of connection seem unlimited.

And there have been building blocks around since a carpenter figured out there was a market for smooth symmetrical pieces of wood.  But they didn’t connect, they just stacked.

The difference between Lego and traditional building blocks is that Lego was designed and created to connect.

 

And people were designed and created to connect as well.  When God created each of us, he created us with a need to connect with others.

 

If we go back to the scripture we started with we find ourselves in the Garden at the point of creation.

Which is our first point  We Were Created

Now if you are familiar with the creation account of Genesis then you are aware that there are some differences between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.   Genesis 1 begins with these words Genesis 1:1  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

And then we read the account of creation.  The Creation of the universe, the creation of the world and all that is in the world.

That is called intelligent design. Didn’t happen with a big bang and it didn’t happen by chance, it was a choice and it was the decision of the God of the Universe.

And you can believe in the evolution of the complexity of humanity from a single cell creature that miraculously appeared tens of millions of years ago.  But I just don’t have that much faith.

I was talking to Euan McGinty an optometrist the other day and he mentioned that for him the complexity of the eye itself was evidence of a creator.  Each aspect of what we are and who we are points to a creator.

3000 years ago David wrote these words Psalm 139:13-15  You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

I love that David would talk about being knit and woven together even though it wasn’t until 1953 that James Watson and Francis Crick would discover the DNA Helix that literally knits us together in our mother’s wombs.

200 years ago William Paley wrote “Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity” and in that work, he pondered creation and speculated that if you found a watch, you would assume there was a watchmaker.  Which seems to make sense.

Noted atheist Richard Dawkins has tried to refute Paley by stating “All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind force of physics, albeit deplored in a special way”

As I said earlier to believe that all this was created by the blind force of physics requires more faith than I have, but that is a sermon for another time.

So let’s go back to our story, the account of the the creation of people and we find that in two verses,  Genesis 1:26-28  Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like ourselves. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”  So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

And the creation account ends in Chapter 1 with these words Genesis 1:31  Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

And so, chapter one details the creation of everything, culminating in the creation of humanity.

Chapter 2 begins with God resting and setting into place the concept of the Sabbath and the need for us to rest.  We read this account in the opening of the second chapter of the Bible, Genesis 2:1-4  So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed.  On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.  And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.  This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth. . .

And the focus here isn’t on the fact that God rested, it’s on the fact that he blessed and made holy the time following His period of creation.

He was now creating the Sabbath for his creation.  And that is a sermon for another time as well. 

And it is in verse five that we see the story shift.  From the creation of things to the creation of life.

As people, we are good at creating stuff, and we have been creating stuff for thousands of years.  Look at the pyramids and at the international space station, humanity can create some really cool stuff.

But now we read in Genesis 2:7  Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

A little boy had been in church and heard his pastor preaching on our lives and the preacher referenced both Genesis 2:7 as well as Ecclesiastes 3:20  Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust.  Later in the day and he came out and asked his mother, “you know how the preacher said that we came from dust and we will return to dust?”  His mother, sensing a deep conversation replied “Yes”.  “Well,” he said, “I just looked under my bed and there is someone either coming or going under there.”

 

 

One author said that Chapter one was creation from God’s perspective, how he saw it from outside of the universe as he spoke everything into being, in an orderly fashion and while creation ended with the creation of Adam and Eve they weren’t the primary focus of the story, creation was.

 

In chapter two the focus narrows from the Universe, from the Heavens and the earth to the story of humanity in the garden. It literally zooms in on a little spot on earth.   And as the story of creation is retold from a more intimate perspective a shift takes place in how God is referred to.

In the first part of the creation story, the Hebrew word that the author uses for God is Elohîm, one author describes this as being “Creator God, transcendent and majestic”.

But when the story shifts, from the immenseness of the universe to the intimacy of the garden now God is referred to as Yahweh Elohim, a personal God who desires a relationship with his creation.

And it’s here we discover that We Were Created to Connect with God    There isn’t much told in the story of the garden with details of God’s interaction with man.  However,  there is enough to come to the conclusion that God didn’t just create man and leave him alone.

What we do see is that there was a relationship there, that God connected with his creation.  He talked with him, gave him instructions and gave him warnings.

And God gave man a task.   God and man had a relationship, they had connected.

And for the rest of the Bible, we see God connected with his creation.

He guides them, protects them gives them instructions and gives them warnings.

And his creation responds in their praise and worship.  By writing poetry to God, singing songs to God, praying to God and making offering and sacrifices to God.  And it had one goal, to connect with the creator.

And it all started in the garden.

But even with that, God understood that his creation would need more than simply a connection to the creator.  And so we read in  Genesis 2:18-20  Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”  So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one.  He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. . .

We Were Created to Connect with Creation  You may or may not be an animal person, but Adam was .  How cool was it that he got to name the animals?  Did he line them up and name them that way or did God offer him a vision of all the various animals?

We don’t know.  This one looks like a hippopotamus and that one looks like a hamster.  I don’t know what that one looks like, let’s call it a platypus.

But at creation, there seemed to be a connection between man and the animal kingdom.

Albert Einstein once stated, “Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”

And French philosopher Anatole France wrote,   “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

I don’t know if Adam was a dog person or a cat person.  Personally, I’m a cat person.  Don’t judge me.  I kind of agree with Mark Twain who said: “If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.”

Adam seemed to connect with the rest of creation.  There wasn’t any fear of his fellow passengers on spaceship earth.

And I have observed through the years that you can tell a lot about people by the way they treat animals.  People who are cruel to animals are often cruel to people.

St. Francis of Assisi made a similar observation when he wrote:    “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”

It’s funny and kind of sad that it doesn’t always work the other way, I’ve met people who treat animals with a lot more respect and kindness than they treat their fellow humans.

But it wasn’t enough that man had connected with the animals.  Every once in a while you’ll meet someone who is a bit of a recluse, it’s just them and their dogs or cats.  And they say, “All I need is fluffy or Spot or whoever.”

But God knew that we need more than the companionship we can get from our pets.

Let’s go back to Genesis 2:18-20  Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”  So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one.  He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.

Did you catch that?  But still there was no helper just right for him.

Let’s finish the story, Genesis 2:21-22  So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the LORD God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening.  Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

We Were Created to Connect with Others  This was the beginning of our social connection, our family connection and our sexual connection.

And Adam gets it.  If we keep reading we discover his response when he looks at Eve and says “Hubba hubba”.    Actually, what he said is found in Genesis 2:23  “At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’”

Adam Clarke was a Methodist preacher and scholar who lived 200 years ago and this is what he wrote concerning this scripture  “If the word be rendered scrupulously literally, it signifies one like, or as himself, standing opposite to or before him. And this implies that the woman was to be a perfect resemblance of the man, possessing neither inferiority nor superiority, but being in all things like and equal to himself.”

And the Apostle Paul wrote to the early church,  1 Corinthians 11:11-12  But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women.  For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God.Understand that the process of creation wasn’t an “Oops that didn’t work, let’s try something else.”  God wasn’t playing trial and error, “Oh man’s connection with me isn’t enough.  Let’s try animals, nope that didn’t work either let’s try something else.”

Instead, it was God revealing to man what that connection would look like.  That it’s not enough to connect upward or to connect inward or even to connect with Fido, that there is a social element to who we are.

And so when man had someone like him he had a social connection.  But more than that there was an intimate connection.

The story continues in Genesis and we discover Genesis 2:24-25  This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.  Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

It didn’t seem to take long for them to discover what it meant for two to become one.  You can use your imagination.  But everything fit, so to speak.

And that one line “The two are united into one”, or “become one” is the mystery of marriage.

And it’s why the bible teaches monogamy because if two become one, how does that one become two again, without leaving something behind.   It’s why it so hard to lose a spouse to death or divorce because it is literally tearing apart the one apart.

This entire concept of two becoming one is so important that Jesus reinforces it when he was questioned by the religious leaders about his view on divorce, he told them Mark 10:6-9  But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation.  ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife,  and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one,  let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

Sometimes people act as if the church and God are against sex, but it was part of the original design.  And throughout the bible, it is seen as something to be celebrated and enjoyed.  And it is because of the very depth of that relationship that relationship that God’s word reminds and warns his people over and over again that there is no such thing as casual sex.

I had a conversation with a young man awhile back and he told me “You have to be careful when you have sex because each time you give the other person a little bit of yourself.”  Not a believer mind you, and he had it pegged.

But that is a sermon for another time.

Later in the New Testament Paul would use these same words to describe the relationship between Christ and his church, Ephesians 5:31-33  As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”  This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.  So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

And two thousand years later wives are still looking for love and husbands are still looking for respect.  And that is a sermon for another time.

And so, we have been created to connect.  And over the next two months, we are going to be looking at how we connect with our creator and how we connect with our creator’s kids.

 

 

 


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