June traditionally has been the great month for weddings, which means it is also the time for anniversaries. This means it is a season when we see family members that we haven’t seen for a while. At these gatherings we also meet people that we’ve never met. I suppose everyone has had the experience of sitting at a table at a party where you didn’t know have the people. This means that we have the opportunity to expand our circle of friends, even if it is only for the afternoon or evening.
Usually, people share some general information about themselves: their names, where they live, their occupation, how they know those being honored, etc. However, when the exchanging of information is done and those who are adept at conversation have others participating, we know that we know little about the other people, except for a list of facts. We have not shared life with them, and so we don’t know who they really are.
In religious circles, people assume that they can know God by learning a list of facts about it. This happens in many ways: in Sunday school or catechism classes, in Vacation Bible School, or if one’s parents were especially devoted to God, by their parents’ kind instruction. When they mature, it is easy to continue the trend by reading books that give more lists of facts about God with philosophical discussion about those facts; namely, theology books.
The true and living God did not write a theology book when he spoke to introduce himself to us. Instead, he told his story. By telling his story, he explains his plans to us and invites us to share life with him. Sharing life with God is the experience of his glory, love, joy, and peace. We glorify him, and he promises a share in his glory forever. As we come to know his story, he uses its message, its good news, to bring us to new birth by the power of his Spirit.
Today, let us listen to the living God introduce himself. In this introduction we do learn facts about him, like in all introductions, but he does this to set the context in which we might really know him, and not merely a list of facts about him. How does he start his story?
- God introduces himself as the Creator. We can meet him, because he created us and the world in which we live. God does more than tell us the fact; he tells us the story of how he brought us and everything else into existence. He gradually builds excitement as he talks about the creation of light, earth, and sky, to making a place suitable for human life, and on to the creation of mankind, intimating that we are an important part of the story he is telling.
- God talks about how he created. I suppose that God might have created everything by simply thinking or by direct acts of power. But as he introduces himself, he tells us that he created by his word. Nine times he uses a phrase like “and God said” in this opening chapter of his story. God reveals that his word is powerful. He can speak and bring worlds into existence. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can speak together about how they will make mankind, both male and female.
- God makes known his power in his story. Our world comes into being as the act of his will. We are made in his likeness to rule over the world by his sovereign will. God gives us significance by his will. And he gives us the power to procreate and to subdue the earth by that same will. He is the God who can give authority and power to others, while ruling over all by his word.
- God points out his goodness. He tells us seven times that he makes what is good, including mankind. God gave us a good world and told us to care for it. He wants us to know that he is the source of what is good. We can receive it from him.
God does all this in a form of a story. Listen to his majestic revelation of who he is and how he wants us to know that he desires what is good for mankind. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us (Acts 17:27 NIV).
Grace and peace, David