It’s not the first time that we’re reading about the creation of humankind.
In the first chapter we read this from one writer (or set of writers):
26Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
27So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Here, there are unmissable theological concepts concerning the human person, such as
- we, human beings, have been created in the divine image! (however we chose to understand that)
- we, human beings, are the crown of God’s creation! (however we choose to understand that)
- we, human beings, have been blessed with the capacity to oversee creation in a day-to-day sense (however we choose to understand that- with such things as filling earth, subduing earth, having dominion over earth all included in the package).
Now in the second chapter, the writer(s) give us more stuff, not just brain-works for Bible scholars, but life lessons for persons of faith.
God creates man and woman from the same basic stuff- nothingness or dust? By now, in the twenty-first century we know that the dust of the ground isn’t simply empty worthless stuff. If it contains a whole lot of the stuff that sustains life, then there’s a lot of potential in us to start with.
God decides that the man should not be alone and so he makes him a Helper! Indeed, all our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth (Ps 121:2). What a place of honour it is to be created Helper.
God treats the man with real honour too. He is the consultant whose advice concerning the naming of creatures is taken, not “with a grain of salt” but respectfully as God treats humans.
Noting their oneness concerning the stuff that they’re made of, their common humanity, like God who, on the sixth day, “saw everything that he had made, and [judged] indeed, it was very good”, the man also endorsed his female partner with a Wow!
Such a Wow, that there was no distance, no hindrance, no cover up -physical or metaphorical – between man and woman.
“And they were not ashamed”. It seems to me that they were neither ashamed of themselves as individuals, nor of their partnership.
But soon enough, it became a man’s world. And I even recall a male getting thoroughly angry with me one Sunday. After church he demanded to have a word (which turned out to be strong in volume and harsh in his ignorance) with me. He was most upset that at some point in my sermon I had made the point that “God is not a man”. He wondered how I could have uttered such an absurdity when the Bible says that we were created in God’s image! which means, he posited, that God looks like us (rather than that we should look like God!) .
Mark you, he was quoting from the KJV which said mankind, not realising that this was a rather limited translation for which a more accurate rendering would have been humankind.
May God help us, as we learn more through keeping company with God. That, I believe, teaches us a lot more about God and puts us in a place to receive the paradoxical truths contained in the scriptures. However, I don’t think we’ll ever get to know it completely. Our zest can’t be allowed to dry up, eh?
Mysterious God knows we need some mystery, even when we choose to be narrow and downright silly.
Help me, Lord, in my ignorance, imperfection and incompleteness, to learn some more of you, and be some more like you. Amen.