Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:4-25

discipleshipWe’re jumping into a new season in the church. A time when everything gets restarted: meetings begin to get scheduled, Sunday school starts, planning begins for worship celebrations like communion, anniversary Sunday, and believe it or not, even Advent and Christmas (it’ll be here before I know it, that’s for sure).

And with the beginning of the church calendar starting to fill up, so we begin a new year of exploring the Bible together. This year we’ll again hear parts of key stories in the Old Testament through the fall before we start exploring the Gospel of Mark through the winter.

Today we step into what people have called the second account of creation in Genesis 2. In Genesis 1 we read of how God created all of the universe in 6 days and rested on the 7th.

Today we read a more interactive version. We learn some of the backstory, so to speak, of how things came together.

We heard how God watered the earth and began to create life. How God created Adam from the dirt and breathed life into him. We read how God planted the garden of Eden and placed Adam there to care for it.

In this, Adam had a job. He was the caretaker of the garden. God placed him in there and was told he was to serve it and keep it. Which is to say his job was to watch over it, protect it, and care for it.

As Adam worked away in the garden, God noticed that he needed a partner. Adam needed someone along side him to work in the garden and also to keep him company.

When we look at Genesis 1 and how God created the universe, we see it was all done in pairs. There was the earth and the heavens. There was light and darkness. There was earth and water. There was the sun and moon. So seeing Adam alone didn’t really seem right.

So God sat Adam down and brought him all the animals to be named and to see which would make a good partner.

I like to imagine Adam being quite excited about this… at first. He would be thinking “I get to pick someone to help me? This is awesome! I can’t wait to see what it might be!”

Then the lineup begins in front of him as the animals begin to parade by. And as each one passes Adam would be giving them names along the way.

“Zebra! Tiger! Lion! Dog! Moose! Sheep! Pig! Cow! Horse!” and so on.

But I would think that after a few hours, maybe even days, his energy and creativity would begin to wane.

“Uhhh… parrot… did I say tiger already? Yes? Ummm… I dunno… ostrich! There are more? Oh come ON! Uhhhhhh…. platypus!” as he just starts blurting out random syllables as he got more and more tired.

All through this though, God is seeing that none of these animals are a suitable partner to Adam. So finally, Adam is put into a deep sleep and God creates a woman to be his compliment, is partner, his equal.

When Adam wakes up, he sees Eve and he sees that she is the perfect compliment, the perfect partner.

He has GOT to be excited about this as he I gives a big fist pump in the direction of God and celebrates!. So he says,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,
for out of Man this one was taken.”

From there the family begins. Adam and Eve figure out just how complimentary they really are to each other and have children and raise their family. It’s not perfect, that’s for sure, as we hear of the first murder taking place in Genesis 4. But this is still the foundation of society as God created Adam and Eve as equal partners to be the caretakers of the earth.

This is their identity. This is their vocation. This is what God has called them to do. God created them for a purpose.

When they followed that purpose they were happy. Very happy. But what happened when they decided it might be better to go another way?

The serpent came into the garden and tempted them with another purpose. He told them that if they ate of the forbidden tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would be like God. They desired to be like God, they chose to go beyond their God-given purpose and trouble began. Immediately they became ashamed of their bodies and tried to hide it, and they hid from God as well.

When they stepped beyond their purpose, they discovered life wasn’t so great. Their whole demeanor changed. No longer were they happy. Despite the fact they were still working in the garden.

In seeking out a greater cause they lost their identity. Even doing their own job, that is the caring of creation, didn’t make them happy any more.

We are all children of God. We all have been placed here for a reason. Some of us might now what that reason is, some of us may not have a clue. For some of us, we may be “in between” reasons. We may be wondering what is next for us.

The challenge is being patient, whether we know our purpose or not. The trick is to keep our focus on God.

That’s not always an easy thing, especially when we live in a world where there are so many challenges to our lifestyle. We need to live a certain way. We need to have a certain type of body shape. We need to have a certain type of house. We need to have a certain type of job, car, family, clothes, vacation, retirement, and so on and so on.

There is so much noise in our world that distracts us from what God has as a plan for us.

We need to get back to Him. He needs to be our centre. He needs to be our focus, our guide.

Adam and Eve had no distractions compared to what we have today. They lived in the Garden of Eden, and their job was to simply take care of it. There was one distraction when the serpent came. That’s all it took.

So, of course it won’t be easy for us today.

It’s important to keep checking in. To make intentional moments in our day to pause and remember God has created it all, and we have a purpose here. We need to take these moments and pray, and also listen. We need to pick up our Bibles and remind ourselves of God’s story, and how His love keeps shining through.

The warning was they would die if they ate from that tree. Well, they didn’t. But because they now had a full understanding of good and evil, life had to change for them. So they had to leave the garden and begin life again. They were still caring for the earth, but now life was harder.

God still provided for them. He gave them clothes and a place to live. God still was there to lead them and support them as His children.

God still loved them.

God still loves us too.

Even if we might fall to sin and temptation, God is still here for us.

And if we keep making time to do these intentional things to remind ourselves of this love, then what becomes intentional becomes instinctive.

Those times when we stop and pray. Those times when we have to remind ourselves to pick up our Bibles and read. Those time when we need to set a reminder to spend time listening for what God might be saying to us. Those things will all become automatic. We may start to find that spending intentional time with God will weave into other parts of our life where it just becomes our instinct to pray, or listen, or read and reflect.

We’ll stop reaching for other things and reach out to God first.

And if there are times when we begin to seek out other things, then we start over. Get back to God, put Him at the centre, and be intentional until it becomes automatic again.

It makes it easier to understand our purpose, even if we have to wait.

Who we are is defined by many things. Some of us are parents, some are not. Some are working, some are retired, some are looking. Some of us have siblings, some do not.

But we are all children of God. Designed by God with gifts and skills and put here for a purpose.

Just like Adam and Eve had a purpose.

The world is different now. But temptation and sin are just as bold in trying to get our attention and turn us away from God’s plan.

So we need to find our God-given purpose. We need to explore what God has given us as skills and abilities and how we can use those skills to share God’s amazing love with the world. So others can also know they are a child of God and have a purpose as well.

Last week I said we need to be ready for a new thing, whatever it is God is asking us to do.

This week, let’s start the journey towards this new thing by making God our centre and our focus going forward. Let’s be intentional about our relationship with God. Let’s work on faithful prayer. Let’s dedicate ourselves to spending time in God’s story by reading the Bible. Let’s work on listening to God for direction.

Let’s be a people of God.

Can we do this? I think so.

Should we do this? Without a doubt!

Why wouldn’t we?

God’s love to too great. His plan is too amazing. And we can be part of it. We can help bring it to fruition. We can help make God’s love real and known by many people.

All we do is start by making God our focus first, before anything else.

A challenge for sure, but something more than worth striving for.