I am, like many men, simply a large boy at heart and apparently I do not hide it very well. Just a couple of weeks ago, many people across the world exchanged gifts on Christmas Day. One of the gifts I received was a ‘Nanoblocks Motorbike’. If you do not know what Nanoblocks are think LEGO, but smaller and more of a puzzle… LEGO for adults, I keep telling myself. At this point, I should point out that this is a great present for me. I love building and painting models. I do not get much time to do so now, but when I was younger I built and painted everything I could, from little motorised trucks to dragons and fantasy figures. I still have wardrobes full of models and paints and I remember the feeling I used to get when I made something and it was just as I wanted it to be. I would hold it up and admire it, before promptly finding one piece that I wanted to change, cut, re-paint or get rid of. Eventually, I would present it to my mum and dad and they would smile while secretly wondering how much paint I had spilled on the kitchen table this time. It would not always go right, of course, but when it did, when I had built and painted a model just as I wanted it to be, it was always a wonderful feeling. Satisfaction and a lasting happiness would follow until I found the next project to get stuck into.
I think this feeling we get of accomplishment when we make something that is truly ours is part of the image of God. Those characteristics that God made us with truly shine when we are discussing things that we lovingly created. Our sense of love, justice, peace, grace, mercy, protection all make up parts of these characteristics and what do we express these towards more than what we have ourselves made? Even if we simply take the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 what do we love more than what we ourselves have made? Think of a piece of furniture in your house that you have bought, maybe a piece that you like, maybe not, but think of its value. Now, picture yourself making it. Taking time picking out the materials; looking up what tools to use; using directions; sanding, painting, stitching, pouring time and care and love into every piece. Now, picture throwing it away and replacing it. My guess is that for most people something that you have made is much harder to throw away.
In Genesis 1 the account of the Creation is recorded for us. After every day of creation God looks upon His creation, as I looked upon those models when I was a child, and sees that they are good. He begins with light, a key element for all of our lives. God creates light with the Word of His mouth and sees that it is good. He then goes on to create everything else. It is impossible to do this part of Genesis justice in a few short paragraphs. God makes everything in this universe by the Word of His mouth and goes on to say that it is good. Every day the process is repeated, creation and evaluation; ‘yes, that is good’.
In those six days the Bible tells us that God created everything. Everything that you have ever seen that has taken your breath away, that was God’s work; anything you have ever seen that has made you say ‘wow’, that’s what God made in those six days. Anything that you have ever wondered at, everything you have ever spotted on a postcard and wished you could be there, God is responsible for that. Just think of it right now, that thing, that animal that you just think is amazing, that scene, that picture of a distant planet or a vast mountain or a beautiful sunset over a still sea. God made all of them and said they were ‘good’.
Now read Genesis 1:26 & 31.
God makes everything that takes our breath away, that conjures up such deep emotional reactions and thinks that it is good. And then He makes us; and we are very good. I don’t think that is insignificant and you should get this; God thinks of you as more beautiful, more worth seeing, more worth creating than anything else in this universe. Let that sink in. The magnitude of that statement may be hard to grasp, but it is no less true, God cherishes you above the sunsets, the cuddly little animals, the magnificent stars; God has looked upon it all and picked you out as the best of it all.
So, what happened? God made a garden and decided that Adam and Eve would live there with Him. Right beside the One who had made it all. But, soon Adam and Eve chose not to obey God’s one rule and the serpent led them away (Genesis 3). It had only taken two chapters for God’s perfect design to be wasted by humanity; the pinnacle of His creation. Their disobedience meant punishment, but God did not want to destroy them, although He could have. Instead, they were separated from God, their shame and His justice meaning they could no longer walk together as before. Now, remember when we thought about throwing away that thing that we had worked so hard to make? Remember how it was harder to throw that away than a normal piece of furniture? Do you think God wanted to throw away something He had so lovingly crafted and put so much time and care into? Of course not, but what could be done…
The thing is that we have all messed up in this way at some point. Maybe it wasn’t the fruit from the tree, but we have all let God down, all failed to live up to the potential as the pinnacle of His creation. The book of Romans chapter three and verses 10-12 tell us that, ‘…all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God…’ we are all rickety old tables in the factory of a master craftsman, dirt scrapings in the gallery of Caravaggio, Godin or other great artists; creations failing to live up to the reputation and glory of the Creator.
But, that doesn’t mean He is finished with us.
You are the pinnacle of His creation, it’s true, His finest work of art, yes; but critically, more important than understanding anything, you must realise that you are cherished for a grander reason, a grander purpose. You are not just His creation; you are His child. The prophet Hosea records what God has to say about His people, Israel. I believe that we can apply this to how God would view us all. Seriously, read Hosea 11 when you get the chance, it is beautiful. The Lord talks about when Israel was young, how He held them by the hands and taught them to walk, He talks about how He caught them when they fell and they did not even realise it was Him. God describes, in heart-breaking words, how His child left Him and went after others, leaving their loving Father behind. Notice verse eight in particular though; God does not give up on His child, the one He created, the child He held when he had fallen down, the one whom He picked up and loved andkept safe. God will not stop loving them.
So, as we asked earlier, what could be done? Well, the prophet Jeremiah gives us a sneak peek into God’s plan. In Jeremiah 31:31-34 Jeremiah sets out God’s plan to create something else, one last thing; a way that He could wipe out the sins of His people, so that He would remember them no more. He tells them that a time will come when God will present a new covenant with His people, everyone will know Him and all of their past betrayals will be left behind. But, how? Everyone had sinned and were imperfect, how could there be any human being who could bring us (the lost) back into a relationship with God? The Scriptures give us the answer to this question too. God would not choose the path where humans had to go through the pain of taking on their own sins, nor would He leave us adrift. Instead, the virgin would conceive and bear a Son and they would call Him Emmanuel, which is God with us (Matthew 1:23). Instead, the Word, the creative power for everything, would take on flesh and dwell with man in the form of a Man; Jesus Christ (John 1 (esp.14)). Jesus was the answer of God when the world looked and wondered how we could remove our sins and be with God again.
This is where we might get a bit technical, but bear with me here. Remember I said how we were separated from God by our sins? Well, there was one place where God still appeared to humanity, where His presence was. This was called the Tabernacle (which really just means a tent) and the Jews took it with them when they entered Canaan and had it until they built the temple. The one place God still lived was called the Holy of Holies and only one person was allowed to go in there, once a year, to atone for all of the people’s sins. There was only one problem; no sacrifice that the Jews could make was good enough to forgive sins forever. This is the good part; this is where Jesus comes in. Jesus, who was perfect in every way, went into the real Holy of Holies, the very presence of the Father; heaven. And He stood before the Father, not with the blood of an animal, but with His own blood which He had poured out at Calvary.
Because His blood was perfect, because He presented Himself in the Holy of Holies willingly, He was able to provide forgiveness of sins to every human being forever.
You can find all of this in Hebrews 10 (especially 1-18). A new covenant was made, the sins and lawless acts of humanity could be wiped away and God and man could be together again at last.
Do not waste this opportunity. You see forgiveness is offered freely, to everyone. But, you have to take the gift, you have to accept this forgiveness. Otherwise, you are still lost, still outside of Him, still separated from Him. There is no other way to put it, and Hebrews 10 helps us again; either you are with Christ, in the Holy of Holies (heaven) or you are not. There is no third way.
Well, how do I accept?
A natural question. It has been asked many times before. Perhaps the most famous time this was asked is recorded in Acts 2. Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples, tells the people exactly who it was that they killed; the Saviour. Understandably, the people are distraught by this news and ask, ‘what shall we do?’. Peter’s answer is the answer that every human being needs as they seek to come back to God, ‘repent and let every one of you be baptised…’. Easy. If you want to be back with God, if you want His forgiveness, if you want to be back in that relationship that He designed you to be in then turn away from the old things and the sins of this world and be baptised into His family. It’s the only way.
You are not an accident or an experiment, but the cherished creation of God. You were in a state of separation from God, but God has decided to do something about that and has provided Christ. Christ gave Himself willingly to bring you back into a relationship with God and that relationship is characterised by what we call the church. The church is where those people who are in that relationship with God gather, they praise Him, they remember His Son and they celebrate the fact that they will be with Him forever. How could you say no to the offer of God; ‘be more than you ever thought you could be, be exactly who I designed you to be; be mine.’
If you have any more questions, do not be afraid to ask. But, if you take anything away take this, seek God, He has already chosen to seek you …
Seek Him; it’s time (Hosea 10:12)