“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
You might be asking: “What’s the big deal about place? Why spend weeks discussing it?” After all, one of the things we know about God, as Jesus told us, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”” (John 4:24) So, shouldn’t the spiritual override the physical?
Maybe. But the first description of God the Bible gives us is at the creation of our earth: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) God IS spirit, but this spirit-God literally speaks material into existence. Ex Nihilo is the Latin phrase, “out of nothing.”
And at the apex of creation, God changes tactics. “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
God doesn’t speak humans into existence, he makes us – with his hands – from raw matter. Eugene Peterson suggests the reason: “The Latin words humus, soil/earth, and homo, human being, have a common derivation, from which we also get our word ‘humble’…. If we cultivate a lively sense of our origin…who knows, we may also acquire humility.”
God reminded Adam: “You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”” (Genesis 3:19) Abraham knew it, too: “Then Abraham answered [God], “Since I have ventured to speak to my lord—even though I am dust and ashes…” (Genesis 18:27) And at Christmas we celebrate the fact that even the spirit-God, Himself, became material: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
When God made our material world, Genesis gives a seven-fold benediction: “God saw that it was good.” Seven times the phrase is repeated. God enjoyed making the world. Just look at His creativity if you don’t believe me. God loves this world. He didn’t start loving it at John 3:16. He has loved it from the beginning…and it was His first gift to us.
When we find our place in the world and commit to it, engage with it, and love the people in it, we’re doing what God has called us to do!
Let’s discuss stability Sunday as we continue our sermon series The Power of Place.