We started Genesis 1 last week. And we looked at the first five-and-a-half days of God’s work. We looked at God creating everything, and then spending five-and-a-half days preparing it for us with food and water and light and setting up the environment for us in a great way.
We got all the way – we went Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We got halfway through Friday, through the making of the animals, certain particular animals. And then we left it with the creation of the man and the woman. And that’s who we deal with, that’s what we hit this week.
And what we learned last week is that the earth is not our mother, but God is, indeed, our very good Father. And so, we’re gonna pick that up this week, and we’re gonna look at the sixth day, which is Friday, where God made us, just in time for the weekend. What a great God.
So, the rule is always, if you get happy, you could cheer; you could clap; you give me feedback. If you really hate what I have to say, schedule a meeting with Pastor Leib and just let him have it.
Just cuss him out, yell at him, just go nuts on that guy. He loves that kind of thing. So, good to see you all. And if you’ve got a Bible, Genesis 1:26 is where we’re at. And I’ll cover a lot of things today, and if you’ve got any more questions, the commentaries and notebooks that we handed you should be of some help. So, I’ll pray, and we’ll get right to work.
Father God, we do love you. We thank you so much that you have given us this church, that you’ve given us this building, that you’ve given us this opportunity to be together as a church family. Lord God, as your Word went out on a Sunday, we pray that your Word would go out again on this Sunday, and that, Lord God, as it brought life in those original days of creation, that it would bring life in our day.
And God, as it brought order, we pray it would bring order in our lives. And God, as we study together today, we pray you would impress upon our hearts your great affection for us, and the great mission that you have us here to accomplish. And that, God, we would give ourselves to you and to the work whole-heartedly.
But we would also take our times to rest, to Sabbath, to worship, to enjoy what you’ve done and what we’ve done by your good grace. We love you, God. We pray the Scriptures would make sense to us today, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
As we launch in, here’s what we’re gonna deal with today; it’s the question of origins, which is, I think, one of the most profound and important questions that we have to answer. Where do we come from? And this is important. It’s interesting because people want to know where they’re from. Even people who’ve been adopted oftentimes go back and try and relocate their birth parents, their birth place. If people moved with their family when they were very young, they want to go back to their birthplace and see their place of origins.
It’s because origins matter to us. It matters where we come from. Where we come from helps shape who we are. That’s why when we meet someone, we always ask, “Where are you from?” We want to know where you’re from, because it helps us understand who you are. “Oh, you’re from Kentucky. Well, that explains a lot of things. That helps a lot.”
You know, we need to know where someone is from. I’m just kidding.
Actually, I’m not.
So, we get this issue of origins. We know where you’re from, and if we know where we’re from, that helps to explain where we’re going – the issues of destiny. And then it helps explain life in the middle.
If we don’t know where we’ve come from, if we don’t know where we’re going, it’s really hard to figure out why we’re here. Because of that, then people are sort of homeless and lost, and life is without meaning, or it’s confusing. It leads to depression or loneliness or alienation because we don’t know where we come from, where we’re going, or why we’re here.
The great German theologian, Helmut Thielicke, he said that it’s as if human history is a dramatic play, that God is the playwright, and that there have been acts and scenes before us. We’re born. We come out onto the stage of history. We have no idea what the story is. We have no idea who the heroes and villains are. We have no idea who the playwright is. We have no idea when the story began or when it ends, what our role is or what lines we’re supposed to say. And so, we end up with a life of just great confusion and perplexity.
The book of Genesis tells us, as we’re gonna find today, that we come from God. That God is the playwright, and that we’re going to God. And in the middle, we’re here to be in relationship with God and to work with God here. So, all of a sudden, now when we’re born, our life has meaning, value, purpose. We know where we come from, where we’re going, and why we’re here.
And this is where Genesis kicks in, in Genesis 1:26. It tells us about the creation of our first parents, Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. So, we’ll launch in right there. And they gave me a remote.
Gentleman, are you jealous? Do you love the remote? Look at that! Look at that.
No – I – you men, you know, one of the Ten Commandments is no coveting.
You men, if you would like to bring your own remote, you can do that, and just play along.
Because – I watch all the channels. My favorite car I ever had had a remote for the stereo. My wife’s like, “What do you need that for?” You need air, water, food, shelter, and a remote. It’s the basic essentials of life. I gotta remote.
So, we’ll launch right in, Genesis 1:26, “Then God said,” – again, the picture of God is as a prophet and a poet, and he speaks. He speaks order into creation. He speaks human life into existence. And today, he still speaks to us. That’s why we read the Bible. That’s how God speaks to us. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image and our likeness.’”
Okay, now we gotta talk about this. Who’s this God? “– our image, our likeness.” It’s a plurality. And the Bible says repeatedly there’s only one God. Well, who’s this “us” and “our”? Some commentators, some of your study bibles in your hand right now will say that this refers to God and the angels making us together. Aha, but now that I got my clicker, I’ll show you the next verse. So, who created man in his own image?
God – not God and the angels. Angels don’t make us. So, we’ll go back. This is so wonderful.
It’s so fun. So, this “Let us,” “our,” this plurality of God is the beginning of the doctrine of the Trinity. We saw in Genesis 1:2 that the Holy Spirit was there at creation. I’ve got it in your notes, but the Father, Son, and Spirit, the Bible says in various places, all were involved in the original creation. So, here we see that the “us” and the “our” is the One God – Father, Son, and Spirit, working together in harmony, love, and unity.
And they’re going to work together to make us. God is intimately involved. The whole Trinity is involved in the making of human life. Let us make man in our image. It’s not that we evolved. It’s not that we came from nothing to become something. It’s not that the impersonal made personality. That the unintelligent made the intelligent. It’s that God made us. We didn’t evolve, and we’re not here by random chance. We’re here by God’s design.
We’re here not for no reason. We’re here on divine mission. We come from God, for God, on mission with God. Life matters. Life is sacred. We come from God. This is so important to realize. This is so important to realize – that you are loved and known and made by God. And everything else makes in its own kind.
So, berries make berries, and goats make goats. The land makes the plants and the animals, but we are made in the likeness of whom?
God. The image and likeness of God. This is the great doctrine of the Imago Dei. You’re gonna get three really nice theological terms and categories today so you feel like you got your money’s worth. The first one is the Imago Dei, which means the image of God. You are the image of God.
Now, we gotta talk about what this means. The Trinitarian God made you. You didn’t evolve, and he made you in his image and likeness. Okay? We’ll talk about what the image and likeness means. I believe those are synonyms, basically talking about the same thing.
Some people say, “Well, the image and likeness means that we have a mind, that we can think.” I think that’s true, but that’s not the totality of what it means to be an image bearer of God. Because if someone is an unborn child, or they’re comatose, or mentally they don’t have full faculty, they still have dignity, value, and worth, and we don’t discriminate based upon IQ.
Some people think, “Well, it’s because we have language. That is the reflection of the image and likeness of God. That we can read and write and speak and communicate.” And that’s true. But again, if you’re illiterate, or if you’re a person who is mute, or if you’re a person who maybe is in a coma, or in some sort of state where you can’t communicate, you still have dignity, value, and worth, so that can’t be all of it.
Some people think that, unlike the animals, we have a soul and a spirit, and we’re not just physical beings, and that’s what makes us image bearers. I believe that’s true, but that’s not the totality of it.
Some people say that because God loves, we can love. Because God is creative, we can create. And this is what it means to be the image bearers of God. And I believe all of those things are true. But I believe even more than that, the image of God is not something we bear. I believe that the image of God is something we are. It’s something we are.
And friends, I want you to know this. Every single human being has dignity, value, and worth. Not because they’re smart. Not because they’re rich. Not because they’re beautiful, but because they’re made. This distinguishes our understanding of human life and the sanctity of human life from all other views.
You, friends, are made by God. And you, friends, bear the image of God. It doesn’t mean that we’re little Gods. It doesn’t mean that we’re God at all. John Calvin says, “I believe rightly that we’re like a mirror that reflects something of God into the earth. That God is a loving God, and when we love, we’re showing a little bit of what God’s like. That God is a forgiving God, and when we forgive those who sin against us, we’re showing a little bit of God forth into the earth.”
The people get a glimpse of what God is like through the people that he has made, when they are operating as he created them to. You, friends, are image bearers of God. You have dignity, value, and worth. And we live in a performance-based world, where if you are beautiful, or rich, or smart, athletic, or talented, or skilled, you have a higher value than other people.
In Christianity, we all have infinite dignity and value and worth and sanctity. Born and unborn. Healthy and sick. Rich and poor. Young and old. Brilliant and simple. Because we all bear God’s image. We all bear God’s image. And it is marred by sin. We’ll get into this in Genesis 3. Sin has corrupted the image and likeness, but the image and likeness of God persists in us, even after sin.
That’s why in Genesis 5, after the fall, it says we still bear God’s image. That’s why Jesus’ brother, James, in the New Testament reiterates this concept, that we still bear the image of God. Some of you only look at your sin, and you only see yourself as a sinner. You are a sinner, and you should take note of your sin, but you need to get back to creation and also realize that you’re an image bearer. And what God is doing in Jesus Christ is trying to take away your sin and your sin nature so we can get back to that image and likeness that you were made in.
We live in a culture where everyone is trying to deal with sin, and the whole language that we use is the language of recovery. That we want to recover. Recover what? Recover our sinful nature? Recover our fallen nature? Recover our life before our addiction, which still wasn’t connected to God?
As Christians, we know that recovery is the recovery of the image and likeness of God. That Jesus Christ takes away our sin so we can get back to the image and likeness that he originally intended us to work out of.
Friends, what this means as well, practically, for you is this: Your identity comes from the fact that you’re made by God. This is so liberating. We don’t need to go out and prove ourselves so that people will give us dignity, value, and worth. We automatically have it by virtue of being God’s image bearers. Life is sacred. Life is a gift of God.
And that’s why as Christians, we should love even our enemies, because they still bear God’s image. We should still love those who even do evil and hate us, because they still bear God’s image. And if nothing else, we’re honoring the work that God has done to make that person, in hope and prayer that they will come to him and come back to that identity that he originally intended them to bear before sin messed it up.
This is hugely important. And the thing of it is this, friends. When we read Genesis, there is God and there are animals. And where are we? Friends, we are in the middle. We are not God, and we are not animals. It’s so important to know our place.
It’s so important to know our place, because people who don’t understand that we’re made by God, they either think too highly of us, that we can rule the world and fix our problems and save ourselves. That we’re wise and brilliant and powerful and talented. They think we’re little gods.
Or, they think like Sigmund Freud taught, that we’re nothing but animals. That we’ll just do drugs and have sex and spend money and destroy lives because we’re just animals, slaves to our basic nature and instinct. Friends, you’re not animals, and you’re not gods. You’re people, made in the image of God, with dignity, value, and worth. Because of that, you have intrinsic respect that is due you, and intrinsic value that you should embrace.
God has bestowed us, crowned us with great dignity. And when we sin, we tend to either think we’re God, or think we’re an animal, and we’re neither. We need to know our place. Our place is under God and over the rest of creation, as an image bearer of God.
God said, “Let us make man in our image.” – the plurality. He goes and he talks in these terms, saying, “– let them rule,” – this is our job – “over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” The man and the woman were made to rule, in dominion over creation, the plants and the animals.
You and I are not animals, and we are not plants. We are more important than animals and plants. And I’m not saying that plants and animals aren’t important. God blesses the animals. God made the animals. Animals should be treated well. I’m not asking for the mistreatment of animals. But what I am saying is this, that a human life and an animal life are two distinct and separate things. And that the human life has a dignity and a value to it by virtue of bearing God’s image that animal life does not.
What this means, practically, is that the radical environmentalists are simply wrong. Certain radical environmental groups will tell us that nature and animals and human beings are all sacred. And so the chopping down of a tree, or the eating of an animal, or the killing of a human being are all equally grievous. That’s not true.
They will then tell us that no piece of creation should be touched because everything is sacred and is not to be touched. That’s not true. We rule over creation. It doesn’t mean that we destroy it, because the opposite of this sort of hyper pagan environmentalism, or some forms of Hinduism and other religions, the direct opposite of that is a completely greedy capitalism that floods rivers with pollution, that destroys species and brings extinction.
What we’re not talking about is the destruction of the environment, or the worship of the environment. What we’re talking about is that creation is a gift that God has given us to harness for maximum fruitfulness and capacity, so that human life can be best served.
And this is so important, ‘cause in our day – especially in our city – not many people get this.
But if you think about it, we are different than the animals, and we are higher than them. I’m not denigrating animals. I love animals. I’m pro-dog. I’m not pro-cat.
But I am pro-dog. And if you think about it, we have the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We don’t have Animals for the Ethical Treatment of People. We don’t have like all the chickens getting some sort of national summit to fix tuberculosis ‘cause the people are really suffering.
We don’t have all the goats doing major fund raising banquets to get involved in the AIDS crisis.
You know, the animals do seem to not be quite as far as long as us, and this is –
This is particularly obvious if you watch people in Seattle walking behind their dog, carrying a bag.
It does seem like we’re a little further along than that animal. Otherwise, they would carry their own bag and cover half the light bill at our house, and do their part to make ends meet.
We are a little farther along than the animals, and I hate to point that out to ya. But we’re not animals, we’re image bearers.
Response: Right. [Applause]
Some of you say, “Well, I can’t believe you think that.” Well, no, we love animals. We love cows, ‘cause they’re made of steak.
We love pigs ‘cause they’re made of bacon. So, you know, we love animals. Especially with sauce.
That was a good line, really. So, here’s the summary. So, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Now, this is the first time gender shows up in Genesis – male and female. Hey, this is still true. Women are different from men.
Response: Praise God.
Praise God. Yeah. That’s why I married a woman. Last thing I want is a furry guy who could take me. That’s the last thing I want.
If I married a guy like me, one of us would have to die. I want somebody different. You know? Now, how many of you have realized that men and women are different. You got married, and the first thing you realized was, “Well, that’s altogether different.”
That’s altogether different right there. It is different. You try to raise sons and daughters. They’re different – they’re just totally different. I have two sons, two daughters. My daughters are in their room, playing dress-up. My sons come in and shoot them.
They’re different. And men and women are different. I’m not saying they’re good and bad. I’m saying left hand/right hand, just different. Just different, that’s all. How many of you women don’t want to be a man? You say, “I’m cool with that.”
“I don’t want to shave my back. I’m cool with this.”
“I like being a woman.” And how many men say, “You know, I’m fine not being a lady. That’s fine, too. I don’t want to shave my legs. This is fine, you know?” And this is the deal, that what happens in a world where you don’t know that we’re made by God, people think that men and women aren’t distinct and different. So, what they want is the men to be more feminine, and the women to be more masculine, so that everybody could be miserable. And we call that equality.
Now, we don’t want men to be feminine. We don’t want women to be masculine. We want women to be women. We want men to be men. And some of you are saying, “That’s terrible.” No, it’s not. It’s creation. Some people say, “Well, it’s by virtue of culture. Culture makes maleness and femaleness.” Who made culture? Males and females. [Chuckle] So it’s hard-wired in our biological conditioning. It’s not like – it’s not like we can blame it on the culture. We made the culture. The issue that men and women are different isn’t a bad thing. It’s a glorious thing. It’s a wonderful thing.
And we could have saved the feminist movement a whole lot of work. ‘Cause what the feminist movement came alone and said, “We’re equal to men, and we’ll prove it. We can cuss and drink beer and watch porno and go to war. We’ll show ya.” Well, we coulda saved you a lot of work. You could have just read the verse, it says you’re an image bearer of God, done deal, nothing to prove. Nothing to show. Woman doesn’t have to prove anything. Just, “God made me in his image and likeness. I’m equal to the man. I don’t have to prove anything to that guy.”
Response: Amen. Right. [Applause]
I get grief for everything I say. Half of it is well-deserved. But on this one, I think I get misjudged, ‘cause in this city, I’m the flaming sexist. And it’s like, you know, the flamboyantly heterosexual sexist. And you know, my thing of it is this, we believe that men and women are both image bearers of God. That they have dignity, value, worth, and equality, and that a woman doesn’t have to prove anything to a man. Why is that so hard to understand?
Why do we need to play into this game where women need to spend their whole life proving that they’re equal, when the Bible says that they are by virtue of creation? There’s nothing for a woman to prove. She just needs to read the verse. “I bear God’s image. He bears God’s image. We’re equal by virtue of creation. Distinct and different as the Father, Son, and Spirit are different, but they’re one. Men and women can be one, and we can be unified for God’s purposes on the earth.”
It’s not complicated, but that’s our basic anthropology, and I praise God that I married a woman.
I would suggest it for you men as well.
The next thing we deal with, this is the image of God, that God made us in his image and likeness. We’re endowed with dignity, value, worth, and respect. There – we have meaning, value, worth. Our esteem comes from the fact that God made us, not on our performance.
What happens then is God gives us a job. And as the cultural mandate, our job is to make culture. It’s a great privilege and honor. It says, “God blessed them and said to them,” – don’t you love this about God? He makes them. First thing he does, blesses them. This tells you about God’s priorities. God is a good God. Over 80 times in Genesis, he blesses. And blessing is what God does.
You and I, we’re blessed. So, you say, “Life is hard.” I know. Imagine if we weren’t blessed how much worse it would be.
“That every good and perfect gift,” James says, “comes from above.” That God is a good God. God is a good God who blesses us. I’m firmly convinced of this, and the more I know God, the more I’m convinced that everything good comes from him. God’s a good God. And he blessed our mother and father, Adam and Eve. And he blesses us today.
This is a work that continues. God is a blessing God. God blessed them. He said to them; he spoke to them. God still speaks to us today. It’s why we read the Bible. God’s speaking to us through his Word. Here’s what he said, “Be fruitful, increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.” Have some kids.
Now, we’re for this. Right? We’re for this. Do you like kids?
Okay. We’re gonna talk about this for a minute, because we live in a city that is not real kid friendly or kid happy. Seattle is the least churched city in the United States of America. It has the second least number of children per capita than any city in the U.S., other than San Francisco.
It does, however, have the highest cohabitation rate – 250 percent higher than the national average. The national average, for every ten married couples, there’s one couple living together that aren’t married. In our city, it’s one in four. In our city, people aren’t Christians, they don’t get married, they don’t have kids. If they do get married, then they either use birth control ‘cause they don’t want kids, or if they do get pregnant, they abort their kid. That’s the city we live in.
In the Bible, children are a blessing, not a burden. Same thing that the psalmist says in echoing this statement from Genesis 1. Children are a blessing. You see a pregnant lady, that’s a blessing. When you see little kids running around our church, that’s a blessing. When you don’t have the mind of God and you haven’t been reading your Bible, you start acting like your own God, and what you’re about is death, not life. And that’s the culture that we work in.
We, as a church, value life – all life, born and unborn, and we love children. We consider them a blessing from God. I got four kids. I love ‘em. I love being a dad. But it’s really weird the attitude toward children in this city. Really weird. I remember it wasn’t too long ago, I was at the store with my kids, my four kids – my two sons and my two daughters. And my kids were being good. They’re good kids. We’re in line, just buying something – I don’t know what.
And this couple behind me starts talking out loud about my kids. “Oh, my god, I can’t believe it – four kids. Can you imagine it? Don’t they know what causes that?”
“The earth is already full. That is just ridiculous.” I turned around and said, “We know what causes this. My wife is hot. So, I know what causes this.”
And I said, “If you think this is too many, I would just like you to tell me, which one do you want me to kill?” Now my kids are lookin’ at me, like, “What the -?”
I said, “Or, if you’d like, you could offer yourself and free up some space.”
“You know, they’re little. They’re not deaf. They’re ears are little, but functional. What you’re saying is, ‘Oh, that’s terrible. They’re terrible. Look at that. Look at those people. They’re ruining the world.’
“Well, look off a squirrel if we gotta free up some space. But you know what? My two sons, my two daughters – they’re not the big problem in the world.” And it’s just this silly world we live in. And we’re in this city now where if you want to be a total countercultural freak, you can’t be wild and crazy – you gotta be heterosexual, get a job, be drug free, and have three kids, and you’re the absolute weirdo.
And if you think I’m wrong, have four kids and go for a walk on Capitol Hill.
There’ll be people chained to each other, taking one another for a walk – nobody even blinks.
I’ve seriously seen that. And if you walk with four kids, people are just like “Those are the littlest people I’ve ever seen.”
Yeah, they’re children. They’re children. They’ve never seen that. You’re just a total freak. You know? [Chuckle] But that’s the weird day that we live in, and that’s the weird place that we live in. If you want to be a freak, get married and have two kids, stay married. If you want to be a complete freak, have four kids. This is the weird world that we live in.
But we see is that God made us, male and female, to get married. Good thing. We’re all for it. And to have some kids. The first ruling unit is a family. It’s the unit on which the governments of church and state are built. That children are a blessing from the Lord. We as a church embrace children.
And I want to say this, too. Just because you’re unmarried or single does not mean that you are not a person who also can love children. We are a large, extended church family. Many of you who are unmarried are like aunts and uncles to the little kids here. Okay? And what we’re talking about is realizing that children are a blessing, and the whole church embracing that as a countercultural way of being. And that’s what we’re talking about here.
The Church and God’s people should be building a counterculture. Okay, we’re gonna extend this a little bit. “God blessed them, said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’” This verse is pregnant with meaning, and to me it says that these people should then have children, who will spread out across the earth, exploring. Now you’re gonna get into technology. You’re gonna get into the sciences. You’re gonna get into philosophy and medicine and exploration.
That’s why there’s something in us that has to explore all of creation. We have to climb every mountain. We have to go to the moon. We have to go as far as we can. There is this adventuresome spirit within us that wants to explore all of God’s good creation. We want to use the full capacity of the human mind. We want to learn and explore and subdue. And that’s because we’re made for those purposes.
But out of this, then, comes culture. What God is telling them here is make a culture –
make a culture that glorifies me. “‘Rule over the fish of the sea, the bird of the air, and every living creature that moves along the ground.’” Again, back to these issues of dominion.
We’ll deal with this in a sec. We’ll deal with diet. I’ll click back – I really like this. Let me unpack this for you. Where it starts in Genesis 1 is God makes a garden, and he puts the man and the woman in the garden. What he says is, have a lot of children, who have a lot of children, who have a lot of children. Spread out over the whole earth. Expand your knowledge base, expand your academic understanding, and then make the world into a place that is good for people to live.
Okay, as we read the rest of the Bible, we get to the book of Revelation. What is the culmination of this culture-making work at the end of time? It’s a city. It’s the New Jerusalem that comes down out of Heaven. We begin in a garden, we end in a city. What that tells us is that God’s culture-making intentions are urban in nature. God is a city God.
I’m not saying God hates the suburbs and the rural areas.
But what I am saying is that God’s heart for culture is a city. See, culture is what we live. It’s what we eat and what we drink. And where we work. And who we love. And how we marry. And how we raise kids. And how we entertain ourselves and spend our time and our money and our energy. And it’s how we educate ourselves.
Culture is the big junk drawer for life on earth. It’s all the stuff we do. It’s how we think. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. God created us to create culture. God made us to make culture. That’s why we make culture. Human beings, clothing, and language, and food, and music, and entertainment, and the arts, and education, and family, and politics – all of this comes out of the cultural mandate.
But, if you don’t understand that God’s intentions are urban in nature, you do what many Christians do, and you leave the city. It’s interesting, because Jesus Christ tells us that this culture-making endeavor among believers is to be done in an urban way. In Matthew 5:41, Jesus says that we are a light unto the world and a – what? A city on a hill. That is his definition of Christianity. A city.
Mars Hill, you are a city within the city. You are a light city within the city of darkness. You are a Kingdom counterculture. The way we do sex and marriage and food and money and entertainment and hobby is different than people who don’t know God, because we’ve been reading the book.
We know where we come from. We know where we’re going. We know why we’re here. We don’t need to chase our addictions and compulsions and run around acting like animals. We also don’t need to think we’re God and think more highly of ourselves than we ought. We can just live our lives with the skills, talents, and abilities, and opportunities that God provides, building a different kind of culture, a counterculture, a Kingdom culture ruled by the King Jesus. That’s what Mars Hill is.
Some of you didn’t know this. Some of you just thought we were doing church. We’re not doing church. We’re doing the cultural mandate. We’re creating a Kingdom counterculture, right here in the middle of a city. Not because we hate the city, but because we love it, and because God loves it. And just like Jesus wept over his city, we will weep over the condition of ours.
That’s why the Bible says we should not be conformed to the pattern of this world. It says that the world in its wisdom doesn’t know God. So, we don’t eat and drink and have sex and raise kids and spend money and do business and educate ourselves as people who don’t know God. We do so biblically, out of love for God, in obedience to God. And we get our identity from the fact that we’re made by God – not by what we have or do.
Now, the way this works out, then, is that this is a city within the city. This is a city within the city, that is bringing a new culture to the city. A culture, quite frankly, that this city has never seen. Because you’re still in the least churched city in the United States of America. To this point, there has only really been one general option, and that is, you don’t know God, and you do what everybody else does.
I believe this is why the Apostle Paul, as you travel through his missionary journeys, he went from urban center to urban center to urban center to urban center. He almost completely ignored the rural areas and the suburbs. In the first 300 years of Christianity, Christianity flourished in the cities, and it did not grow nearly as fast in the rural and suburban areas because God intentionally designed that the cities would be reached first.
Because if you want to reach the rural areas and the cities – excuse me, the rural areas and the suburbs, you reach the city first. You reach the city first because culture making comes from – where? Rural, suburban, or urban areas? Urban areas, urban areas. The record labels are in the city. The television stations are in the city. The universities are in the city. The creative people are in the city. Those who are building the technological infrastructure live in the city. They love the city. They belong in the city. They’re people who love making culture.
If you want to reach people, we can go to the urban and the rural areas, and we’re not opposed to suburban and rural areas. In fact, we’ll plant a church anywhere there’s people. We’re not opposed to doing satellite services. I’m not against or negating that at all. What I am saying, though, is if you want to do something out there, if you hit here first, it’s like the epicenter and everything rings out from the middle. And that’s the city. That’s the city.
But what Christians have done, they have in large part abandoned the city because it’s not Christian. And they go into enclaves where they create a subculture instead of a counterculture, and they try to hide from the dominant culture, rather than transform it from the inside out.
We are here to see nothing less than the absolute transformation of the city of Seattle.
Response: Amen. That’s right.
Because we know that there is another and better way of life than the way of death and folly. That there is a way of love and wisdom. We know that God is a good God, and that with God’s blessing, life can and is better. It is better. We do believe that when you die, you go to Heaven if you love Jesus. We also believe that before you get there, your life is better because he’s a good God.
We believe that Jesus makes a difference in our city today, until we get that great city that comes down from Heaven in the end. Friends, we’re here because we love the city. We don’t agree with its values. We don’t agree with the way that it does things. But we do believe that there are many people living in this city that are just doing what everyone else does because they have not had their imagination awakened through the Scriptures that there is another way of life in Christ.
We are then the city on a hill that turns on our light, and people will then see our lives. You have experienced transformation. Your marriage, your children, your friends, your family, your work, your money, your habits, your life is different. Why? What happened? Well, the tomb is empty. God is alive and well, and he helps people.
Response: Praise God.
Do you know anything about Jesus? There’s another way of life, and it’s not the way of death. And when this culture-making mandate goes forth, this is what we are doing. That’s why we care so much about acoustics and aesthetics and architecture and food and creativity and culture connectivity.
It’s not just that we’re trying to be cool. It’s that we’re trying to create a world, a culture in which people can live. And raise their families. And have their friends And see their children come to faith. And use the gifts and skills and talents and abilities that God has given them to do things that are meaningful and purposeful and beautiful.
You guys’ whole life matters. Everybody in this room matters. Everybody is contributing to the building of a Kingdom counterculture that will house people whom God loves. This is the cultural mandate. We’re going forth. We’re being fruitful. We are multiplying. And the reason that we love children is because that guarantees that the work will continue long after we’re gone.
Okay, let me – I shouldn’t say this. We’ll preface it with my apology. But think about this with me. If people are not heterosexual; they’re not getting married. If they do get married, they’re not having children, or they’re aborting their own children. And we get married, stay married, and have children who love Christ. In time, who rules? Our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren.
This is exactly what happens when this ideology gets worked out, practically, in Genesis. At the end of Genesis, Jacob’s family numbers about 70 people. They go into Egypt. Four hundred years later, they come out – not as a family of 70, but as a nation of millions. Friends, that is the plan that we are working here. We want to reach – I know I’m a short guy with big ambitions, but this is the plan.
The plan is that we love the city, and we see people become Christians. That we assist them in getting married and having children. That they raise those children to love the Lord Jesus and to love the city and to serve the city. And then their children and their children’s children continue this great culture-making project. And then one day, when we’re dead and gone, they don’t say, “That’s the least churched city in the United States of America, and there’s only one option there for the way you live your life.” That is what we’re up to.
And you are very important. Some of you just think you’re going to church. You’re not. You’re building a world. You’re building a world in which future generations will live for better or for worse. That’s why it’s so incumbent upon particularly you men to take your responsibility seriously. When God begins this culture making, he begins with a man, and he appoints them with responsibility and duty.
You men have a great responsibility and duty. It’s a great honor. It’s a dignity that God has given us. Some men feel it is a weight and a burden. I feel it is an honor, as if my Father has asked me to do something that actually matters, and he’s entrusted to my care something that is significant to him.
And men, we shoulder together. And we will love our wives, and raise our kids, and work our jobs, and build our companies, and pay our bills, and read our Bible, and worship Christ, and do our work side by side as an alternative for all the other men in the city who don’t know God. For all the other men who have this vision and dream for their life, where their goal is to become an 80-year-old man who trades their wife in for four 20-year-old strippers, and spends Christmas Eve all by themselves at the strip club.
Our vision is this, gentlemen. We love our wives. And when we’re 80, we’re sitting on the porch swing, holding her hand, waiting for our kids and our grandkids to come over for a little bit of worship time.
Response: That’s right. Amen.
That’s our vision. That’s the future that we’re walking into. And that’s the legacy that we are laboring for. A different vision. A different imagination. A different hope. A different future that is not just about me consuming and dying, but about me giving that others might live. That is the cultural mandate. That is God’s intention.
What that also means for all of you – everything you do is sacred. All that you do is sacred. Because in the culture-making project, if you’re a software designer, or a cook, or a dishwasher, or you’re a guy who wears a tool belt and carries a lunchbox to work, or you’re a stay-at-home mom – everything you’re doing is to build a better place for people to live because you love them.
And I want you to see the significance and the meaningfulness and the purposefulness of your work. Everything you do is sacred work. Everything you do is something that is important to God. That God in Acts 17 determines the times and the places in which we live. He’s put us here to help contribute to the betterment of this city and this culture. And in doing so, whatever our part is, we do it as best we can because we love God, and we love the people to whom we’ve been sent.
This is the mission. We’re given dignity, value, and worth by virtue of being his image bearers. And then, we are given this great task of culture making, as the thing that inspires us to work together for the future.
He closes then a cultural mandate. “God said,” – and here’s our diet – “‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth,’” – this is the pot smoker’s life verse, by the way.
Every pothead I’ve ever met, they know Genesis 1:29 and, “Thou shalt not judge.” Those are like the only verses they’ve ever committed to memory.
“Every seed-bearing plant is good,” [Sound of inhaling smoke] “and no judging.”
You know, what it’s not talking about there is you sit around watching Cheech and Chong movies, listening to Led Zeppelin, eating brownies, thinking that you’re fulfilling the cultural mandate. That’s not the point.
“‘I give you every seed-bearing plant,’” – those are berries – “‘on the face of the earth and every tree,’” – that’s fruit – “‘with fruit and seed. They’ll be yours for food.’” Okay, so eat it, but don’t smoke it, unless you got glaucoma – and then we’ll flip a coin.
Verse 30, “‘And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I also give you every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”
Here’s our diet – berries, fruit, and vegetables. Berries, fruit, and vegetables. We get steak a little later. We’ll get there. Now the point is simply this. God gives us opportunity to make culture. God also intentionally sets up creation so that we can sustain ourselves and nourish ourselves and eat and have health so we can work hard and work well.
We will keep going. We work hard, we work well. “And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Don’t you love that? Did God finish his work, friends? It says right here he did. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, there was morning – the sixth day.”
God does his work good. Do you do your work good? Do you do it very good? Our work is to be patterned after God’s work. God worked well, and then at the end, after the making of the man and the woman and the finishing of his work, he said it was very good.
This is the way the world is. The only reason that there’s sin, and death, and folly, and chaos, and rebellion is because of Satan and us working together against God, going the wrong direction. When God was done, everything was very good. And when God is done in the end, everything will be very good again.
This is the end of Friday. God made us just in time for the weekend. And here’s what he has for us on Saturday, the Sabbath. See, what happens is, God made us in his image and likeness. He gave us a job to do, to make culture. We labor very hard to make culture, to work, to serve, to produce. But if we don’t take a break, we’re gonna kill ourselves.
God loves us so much that he built into creation a day off. We’re gonna deal with that day here. In Exodus 20:11 among the Ten Commandments, it says that for six days God worked, and on the seventh day he rested. He set this up as a pattern for us to follow, that you and I would have a seven-day week.
We have a seven-day week because God established a seven-day week. We have a day off because God established a day off. The original Sabbath, the day off, was Saturday. That was the Jewish Sabbath. It was then changed later by the Christians to Sunday, because that’s the day of Jesus’ resurrection.
In our country, they couldn’t decide whether to give us the Saturday Sabbath or the Sunday Sabbath, and they gave us both, and we say –
So, Genesis 2:1. Here is Saturday Sabbath. “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.” Friends, does God finish his work? This should be a good encouragement to you. Has God begun a work in your life? He will. And Paul says that, “He who began this work is faithful to see it through to completion.”
God will work on you until you’re very good. God will work on history ‘til it’s very good. God is working everything out until at the end his work is done and he can declare it to all be very good. Now, we sin and rebel and make mistakes and errors and follies in the middle, but God is a good God, and God finishes his work.
He says he will never leave you, he will never forsake you. God does not abandon his work in your life. God is a really great God. That God finishes his work. He finished his work of creation. He’ll finish his work of making us new creations.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. And by the seventh day,” – that’s Saturday – “God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”
I need to explain this to you. I had to explain this to my son this week. He’s 5, and he’s like, “Was God wore out?” No, God wasn’t – didn’t come home; flop in a big chair; and put on a stained, white tank top and sweats; and yell at Eve to get him a turkey pot pie. That’s not what happened.
All right, some of you guys, you go, “Oh, that’s not biblical?” No, that’s not what it’s talking about. What it’s talking about is this. God worked, and he wasn’t all plumb tuckered out. God wasn’t like “Oh, man, I pulled a hamstring. I got calluses. Whoo, making the goats – that was a real – whoo, that was exhausting.”
What happened was, God didn’t wear himself out. But what God did, God finished his work, and then he rested. And the point of rest is this – to enjoy it. So many people work and don’t enjoy. Some of the richest people I’ve ever met don’t ever get to enjoy what they’ve done. I know people who work really hard to get a boat and don’t go boating.
I know people who work really hard to get a car and never go for a drive. I know people who work very hard to have a vacation property and don’t vacation. I know people that got married and don’t go out on dates. I know people that have kids and don’t hang out with them. Because they keep working. They can’t stop. They won’t stop until they completely burn out.
And this is why we have rates of burnout and anxiety and depression, because people just keep going until they absolutely come undone. And what God is saying is this, “Work hard for six days. Work hard, work well, make things good and very good, like me. But then, take your day off. Sleep, rest, enjoy. Don’t just work all the time.”
I worry about some of you because you just – you’re fraying yourself to the ends and you’re gonna come undone. When we started this church, for the first couple years I very rarely took my day off. I burned myself totally out. I was frustrated and angry and agitated and I was not as pleasant to my wife or to people as I should have been. I can’t blame that on anyone. That is absolutely my sin that I need to repent of.
But what I found is over the years, if I actually work hard and then rest well, I find that I’m more productive in my work. It’s the person who hasn’t slept and is stressed out and freaked out and angry and agitated that their productivity suffers. They don’t work well. It’s the person who works hard and well, and then rests and plays hard and well, and then goes back to work that has this rhythm in their life, whereby they have productivity and rest.
And what this is, this is one of God’s good graces to us, because the Sabbath rest is for people who are rich and poor, young and old. The people in management and the people on the floor. It’s God’s way of showing his love to everyone. That’s how good God is. God set up creation with the intention that everyone would cease from their labor to enjoy what they have done.
Friends, I want you to enjoy your life. Because so many people keep working because they have the wrong God. That will tell you. Some of you will tell me – I’ve dealt with some of you personally, and you’ll say, “I can’t take a day off, I have so much to do.” Really? So, work is your God. And you can’t obey your real God, ‘cause your false God contradicted your real God.
And if you don’t take a day off, and if you don’t take a nap, and if you don’t cease from your work to enjoy what God has given you and what you’ve done by his good grace, you are demonstrating to the world that you don’t trust God. That, “If I don’t work, it all falls apart because God’s not sovereign and he doesn’t hold things together.”
And you’re telling the world, “It’s okay to dishonor God, he’ll still bless you. And what you’re telling the world is, “My job is more important than anything to me, and that is my God.” And as an image bearer, that’s not what we’re supposed to bring forth into the world.
As an image bearer – and I think this is much of what it means to be an image bearer – we’re made for relationship. As the Father, Son, and Spirit are one, as we love each other, as we have meals together, as we live life together, as we laugh together, as we serve together, as we care for one another, we’re showing forth the image and likeness of God. That the point of the earth is that the resources would be harnessed for maximum capacity, so that there could be loving relationship and ultimately worship of God.
And so the point of all of our labor needs to be a culture of love and service and kindness and hope and faith that worships God together. Which means if we don’t take time to worship and we don’t take time to rest, we don’t take time to love, we’re being terrible image bearers. We’re sending out very mixed messages about God, “This is the God who’s sovereign, but I have to keep everything under control.
“This is the God who’s gracious, but if I don’t take care of it, he won’t help me. This is the God who speaks to me, but I feel free to disobey him. This is the God who loves me and wants me to rest, but I’m determined to kill myself.” It’s a very confusing example to set forth into the world.
But the person who works hard, takes their day off, enjoys their family and their friends and enjoys their life – those are people who live better lives. Live longer lives. Leave a legacy that is more productive. So, we should rest. And don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel bad. I think the two people that have the hardest time having a Sabbath are people who are self-employed, because they don’t have a boss, and they just keep working. And mothers, because on Sunday, your kids are still there.
They don’t take the day off. They still eat and do other things, and it’s still a busy day. So, it’s gonna be important for those of you who have complicated lives to make sure that you still Sabbath, that you get your date night if you’re married. That you get time with family and friends. That you make a Bible study. That you make time for prayer.
But I’ll say this about the Sabbath. Some people get real legalistic about this, real tight. “What constitutes as work – if I mow the lawn or bake a cake? Or if a go for a walk, is that work? Am I sinning against God?” Calm down. Okay? First, in Mark 2:7, Jesus says that the Sabbath was made for us, we were not made for the Sabbath.
What that means is not that the Sabbath rules over us, but that we rule over it. It’s a gift that God gives. It’s why Paul says in Colossians, “Don’t let anyone judge you about the Sabbath.” If you want to go for a walk and that’s restful for you and you enjoy the Lord, it’s a nice fall day, go for a walk.
If for you it’s restful to take a nap, take a nap. If it’s restful for you to be out in your garden, gardening, then go work in your garden. If it’s restful for you to have people over and to have a big meal and to enjoy your family and friends, then enjoy yourself and have people over.
Don’t get slavish and legalistic about the Sabbath. It’s a gift that God gives for us to have joy and rest. And that’s why some people argue over the day. “Well, is it Saturday, is it Sunday, is it this, or is it that?” Paul says in Romans 14, it’s whatever. If Tuesday’s your day off, Sabbath on Tuesday. If your job forces you to work Sunday, and Wednesday’s your day off, enjoy Wednesday.
What Paul says, it’s more about the rest and the enjoying of God and working healthy rhythms into your life than it is what you do or do not do on a particular day. This is up to your conscience. This is up to you and the Lord. We don’t want to legalistically impose on you. What we’re saying is, though, you have permission to take a day off. You have permission to rest. You have permission to enjoy. In fact, you’re commanded to by a loving God.
And some people will say, “I don’t like God telling me what to do.” Well, he’s a good God. He’s saying, “Take a nap.”
And when he says, “Take a nap,” you don’t fight him. You don’t say, “You can’t tell me what to do.” He said, “Take a nap.” You say, “Well, I’m an obedient child. Goodnight.”
God’s a good God, and some people have this picture of God, that when God tells us to do something, it’s bad, and we need to be defiant. I’m tellin’ ya, when God tells us to do something, it’s good. When I look at my son, who is 3, and I say, “Take a nap,” that’s cause I love him. I want his life to go well. I know what it’s gonna look like if he doesn’t.
I know what my life will look like if he doesn’t.
And God’s just like that. God’s a good dad, looks at us and says, “You need to rest today. You need to just read and pray and hang out. It’s a nice day, go for a drive. Go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Take a deep breath of fresh air. It’s a nice fall day, the colors are changing. I’ve given you the whole world – get out of your cubicle, go enjoy a little bit of it.”
God’s a really good God, and he loves you very much. He cares about your life. And he set it up so that you would have enjoyment and rest, as well as work and productivity. And the picture at the end, too, in Hebrews 4, is that Heaven is an eternal Sabbath rest, where we cease from having to perform, and we enjoy the goodness of God together.
It’s a real gift that God gives us. This is Sunday. This is our Sabbath day. You know, it’s almost over, but I want you to take the evening tonight, and I want you to do something that’s enjoyable and restful. Some of you need to sit in a long, hot tub. Some of you need to read a book. Some of you need to get some time in prayer. Some of you need to go for a walk, cause the rain hasn’t hit quite yet. All right?
Some of you need to just sit out tonight and just watch the stars and enjoy God’s good creation and thank him for it. Some of you need to go to bed at a decent hour tonight and get a good night’s sleep.
All right? And don’t feel guilty and don’t feel bad. Feel obedient. Feel worshipful. And the whole of creation is made with a worshipful trajectory, with the Sabbath day being the culmination and the apex. God made us to work and to rest. And when we do both, he’s glorified.
Let me summarize all this for you. I think it was – let me see if I got any more here. I love this thing. “God blessed the seventh day,” – it’s a blessed day – “and he made it holy.” That’s the first occasion that the word “holy” appears in your Bible. It’s sacred. It’s set apart. It’s sanctified. It’s made special. You and I are holy people, and this is a holy day.
“– because on it he rested from all the work of creating he had done. This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” It summarizes, this is the end of Chapter 1. Okay, the chapter and verse divisions were added a few hundred years ago. I believe this is the end of Chapter 1. Next week we’ll get into Genesis 2.
The final word is everything is very good. We’re alive. God gives us the earth as a gift. We’re allowed to explore. And create and make and build. And sing. And eat. And love. And play and laugh. And raise kids. And grow old together holding hands. And that’s what God wants. It’s all very good. He blesses us. He sanctifies us. He makes our days holy. What a great picture.
Let me conclude this for ya. The word from which we get the word “human” comes from the same Latin derivative as the word “humility.” The key is, to be a good human being, you need to be humble. Humility is all about knowing our place. We’re not God. We need him, and we need to listen to him. And we’re not animals. We do have control of our own lives. We have dignity, value, worth, and respect. We’re not just slaves to our desires and our appetites.
We come from God. We’re going to God. And in the middle, we belong to God, and we’re here to bear his image by loving and serving and giving and forgiving and caring and helping and sharing in a community together. As the Father, Son, and Spirit are one, so we, Jesus prayed, should be one. And by that, he says, everyone will know that we are his disciples.
That we’re supposed to be building culture and inviting non-Christians that we love in this great city to taste and see that he is good, and to participate in a new way of life. A way of life that is filled with love and life and faith and hope – and not death and folly and arrogance and pretension.
The problem is that we bear the dignity and the potential and the capacity. We’ll get into it in a few weeks. But in Genesis 3, we sinned and we separated ourselves from God. So, this great work of culture making continues, but it’s disconnected from God. So, we get a culture of death and not a culture of life.
Because of that, there is not respect for gender. There’s not respect for sex. There’s not respect for children. There’s not honest work. There’s not viable rest. There’s not sufficient worship. The world is not put together the way that it should. But we keep going, nonetheless, because that’s what we were made to do. And when disconnected from God, we don’t cease making, we just continue making in the wrong direction in the wrong way.
So, God had a plan. God had a wonderful and glorious plan. God decided that he would come into history as the second Adam – as the second Adam. What the first Adam lost, the second Adam regained. The second member of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, came into human history. 1 Corinthians 15:45 says that he is the second Adam. That the intentions for Adam that were lost through sin are redeemed through Jesus.
It says that as well in Colossians. That not only do we bear the image of God, but that he is the image of the invisible God. That you and I have seen God in Jesus Christ. That he has come into his creation to forgive us of sin, to take away our sin, so that we might be rightly restored to him.
The result, then, is in Ephesians – I think it’s in Chapter 4 – it says that we are now being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. That we go from being like Adam to being like Jesus. That we go from messing up like Adam, to participating in the building of a good Kingdom counterculture on the earth, as we imitate the ways of Jesus.
And here’s what happened. Jesus came into human history, and he lived without sin, and he came to bless us, and he died. And when he died, he said something that is very, very important. In creation, it says that God completed his work. And what were Jesus’ words from the cross? “It is finished.” Jesus finished his work as well.
God finished his work of creation. We sinned. Jesus accomplished his work of redemption. It’s finished. There’s nothing left for you and I to do to obtain salvation, other than to give our sin to Jesus and receive from him forgiveness. We, then, are made in the image of God, and he takes away that sin nature and flesh, and the old self.
He begins to strip that away in this lifetime. It finishes in the life to come. And then the image of God, patterned to be after the Lord Jesus, starts to shine forth. He’s brought us together as the people of God, to be a city on a hill, to be light in darkness. He’s endowed each of us with dignity, value, worth, sanctity, and respect.
He’s given us each something important to do and to contribute. He’s brought us all here in this city at this time in this place to build a culture that would honor him and would house people that he loves, many of whom don’t even know him yet. But he is seeking them actively because he loves them, too.
That is our church, and you are a vital part of it. And we welcome you. And we want you to see how significant God’s work on the earth is, and how Jesus Christ is working through you and through us to accomplish the original purposes for which he made the earth.
What we’re doing is nothing less than the purpose for which all of – all of the earth and all of the people on the earth were made, an enormous and glorious task. We need to work hard, work smart, work well, work together. And we need to rest hard. We need to rest well. We need to rest together.
I want you guys all to take a deep breath tonight. I want you to know that God is a good God, and God is alive and well. I want you to know that your life has dignity, meaning, value, and purpose. I want you to know that you are here on divine mission by a good God, and that you may not consider yourself significant or important, but God certainly does. So important and significant, that he gave you his image. And then when you sinned, he gave you his Son. And he has blessed us, and he makes us holy.
We’re gonna take our time tonight. We’re gonna sing and celebrate, ‘cause we have something to be glad about. We know where we come from. We know where we’re going. Now, we know why we’re here. We’re gonna give of our tithes and offerings.
If you’re a visitor or non-Christian, don’t give. Let us pick up the tab. We love ya. If you’re a Christian, give. It’s our way of demonstrating that we’re involved in a culture-making project, and that some of our resources go toward that great project.
We’re gonna partake of communion, which is remembering Jesus, his body and blood shed for our sin, and thank him for taking away our sin and bringing forth the image and likeness that we were originally made in, so that we might be imitators of him.
And then we’re gonna leave here, and we’re gonna go rest tonight. We’re gonna work our jobs tomorrow, and we’re gonna go to school. And we’re gonna raise our kids. And we’re gonna fall in love. And we’re gonna continue to build this great culture that God has for us.
Are you enjoying it so far?
Response: Yeah, yes.
Are you enjoying what we’re doing and who we’re becoming and how this church is just coming to life in the middle of nowhere out of nothing? Just like creation. Are you amazed by the skill and the talent and the ability and the things we’re able to pull off?
The quality with which we’re able to produce. And I tell you what friends, the city is starting to see that, and people are starting to realize that God’s people are here on a mission. And as long as we love this city, we don’t need to affirm its values and conduct. But as long as we love the city, then the city will be welcome to come here and to meet the Lord Jesus.
Response: Yes. Right.
And to participate with us, because we love them, as he does. I love you guys. I’m gonna pray for you. We’ll – let’s just sing a little bit.
Response: Whoo. Yeah. Yes.
It seems like that would be the next logical step to celebrate the goodness of God, and to do that for which we were made in this trajectory, and that is to take our Sabbath day and to worship together as God’s people.
Lord God, we do love you. We thank you for this great day of Sabbath and study and rest. God, I thank you that we don’t need to find our identity in our performance. We don’t need to find our identity in our attractiveness. We don’t need to find our identity in our successes or failures.
We find our identity in your hand – your hand that has made us in your image and likeness. That has filled us with dignity and value and worth and respect. That we have nothing to prove to anyone.
We are valuable simply because we are made by he who is infinitely valuable. God, I thank you so much that we’re not animals. That we don’t have to give in to our desires. We don’t need to be slaves to our urges and appetites. That we have the ability to walk with our head high in dignity as human beings, with an important life to live and significant things to do.
God, I thank you that you give us our dignity back, even when we’ve descended into the depths of sin. I thank you that you, Lord Jesus, came as the image of the invisible God – to save us from ourselves, and to take back all that the first Adam lost – as the great, second Adam.
Jesus, I thank you that now those who are in the room that have faith in you, they are being made into your image and likeness. We’re learning to live like you live and love like you love and forgive like you forgive, so that we might be a bit of a mirror that reflects something of your goodness to the earth.
And God, we pray for our city. We love it. We love this city. We thank you for the fact that our church can be a city within the city, a place of light amidst darkness. A place that can welcome strangers and those who are suffering and hurting. A place that can embrace and instruct and encourage and exhort as needed.
And God, we pray for our children and our grandchildren. We pray that the legacy of the Gospel would outlive us. We pray, Lord God, that our children would be a blessing to us and would be worshippers of you. And that, Lord God, when we’re dead and long gone, that there would still be creativity and beauty. There would be music and art and poetry and song and literature and love and life and happiness and joy and Sabbath and rest and worship as a counterculture Kingdom way of life here in this great city.
And we pray it would go forth into the suburbs and out into the rural areas and extend itself into the nations of the earth. We love you God. We thank you that we have something to do. And we thank you that we get to rest in the midst of it.
And, Lord Jesus, we take you at your word. You say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I’ll give you a Sabbath.” So, Jesus, we come to you tonight, and we’re gonna rest in your arms. Amen.