The biblical account of creation opens with the proclamation “In the beginning God….” (Genesis 1:1).
The affirmation that God was present in the beginning, engaged in purposeful creation, bringing order out of chaos, is not lost on biblical commentators 1. When Jesus teaches his disciples and subsequently all disciples how to pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10), God’s continuation of presence and re-creation of the world is affirmed.
Equally important in both the Genesis account of creation and the Lord’s Prayer is the awareness that human beings exercising their freedom move and act in ways that engage and distance them from God. In Genesis, we discover the painful account of the first man and first woman ignoring the directions of the Creator. In the Lord’s prayer we pray to be forgiven, offer forgiveness to others, and acknowledge the temptations of our humanity.
As the people of God, we are participating in the reign of God, seeking to live out kingdom values in a broken world, and anticipating, perhaps seeking a fulfillment of God’s kingdom that has not yet been experienced. In a time in human history when the people of God do not speak with a single voice concerning the values and practices of God’s people, there is discouragement as we wrestle with clarifications of vision, values, beliefs, and practices.
There are frustrations that long-held beliefs are being abandoned in the name of progress. Even as others see hope in their renewed biblical vision of equality and justice for all people uncertainty remains about the best way to move together as the people of God.
These challenges are not just ecclesiastic institutional concerns, but impact the way in which the people of God move towards and away from their Creator in the exercise of their freedom.
As the people of God, we are…seeking to live out kingdom values in a broken world.
As I begin this New Year, I confess that I resist New Year’s resolutions. But at the same time, the beginning of the year is a new beginning, a time to exercise my freedom to renew the foundational components of my commitment to Jesus as Lord.
Here are a few areas for your consideration:
- Read the Bible in some type of deliberate schedule.
- Identify habits in your life that need to be strengthened in order to fulfill your expectations of being a follower of Jesus.
- Because the community of faith is valued, participate in various activities of your faith community that give you a sense that you are part of God’s unfolding drama of “God’s kingdom coming.”
- Because we believe that God is reconciling all things to God, commit to live as one that is seeking to engage in conversations with people in order to gain understanding rather than overpower the other to win.
- Recognizing that God created us to be in relationship with God, but also the freedom to move away from God, commit to making relationship and life choices that move you towards the fulfillment of God’s purposes.
As this New Year unfolds, I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul writing to the Church of Rome: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
1 Walter Brueggemann, Genesis, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, John Knox Press, 1982. Genesis, Believers Church Bible Commentary, Herald Press, 1987. Bible quotations are from New International Version.