Kia Ora everyone. Rob here.
Soon after the creation narrative of Genesis 1-2, and the story of the Fall in Genesis 3, Genesis 4-6 tells the story of how quickly the world became permeated with evil. Cain kills Abel, Lamech boasts of killing fuelled by revenge, and in Genesis 6:5-6 we read this:
The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
Human evil fills God’s heart with pain. Remember that after creating man and woman he was able to look at the earth he had made and declare it to be very good. So when we treat each other, and ourselves, as less than human, God grieves. When we abuse others with violence, cruelty and meanness, God grieves. When we’re looking out for number one, and stop caring about who we hurt along the way, God grieves.
So evil is directly related to the question of ‘what does it mean to be human?’ Here are three things that Genesis tells us about what it means to be human:
- To bear God’s image: to reflect God to the world.
- To rule in his name: Fill the earth, subdue it, bring God’s image to bear throughout creation.
- To do it in community – God and people and creation itself together in Shalom.
Revelation 21:3 is now the ultimate goal, but it used to be the original goal.
Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
Evil occurs when the image of God, our very humanness is desecrated. It’s uncomfortable with humanity as God made it to be, so it seeks to puff us up, and/or diminish us. Pride and shame are evil’s main weapons. Evil wants us to think we are either a god or a worm. If we believe either one we are not taking our place as God’s image-bearers on the earth, representing life in him. Pride and shame also lead to separation from others; we don’t need anyone, or we’re not worthy to be with anyone. Either way we’re projecting our image of ourselves, not God’s image; we’re ruling in our own name, running our own ship. With pride you run your own ship for your own glory, with shame you run it so you can hide whenever you want. So God’s image, God’s reflected rule and true community are destroyed by pride and shame.
Genuine humanity requires a genuine humility. This humility is what’s targeted by the forces of evil. We see this when Jesus was tempted in the desert. The devil tried to get him to turn stone into bread, and not trust in God’s provision. He tried to get Jesus to cast himself down, and not trust in God’s timing. He then, maybe out of desperation, tried to get Jesus to assume the mantle of global emperor, and not trust in his true identity as the King of heaven and earth.
God provides, his timing is perfect and our identity as his children is sure. When these things settle in our hearts and minds, then true humility is ours and evil can more easily be resisted in the name of Jesus. May that be your journey and experience this week and may grace and peace be yours.