This past weekend our family attended a middle school play. We knew one of the kids who was performing and had an enjoyable night supporting him. The play wasn’t one I had heard of before (which, honestly, would be true of most plays), but it turned out to be a prequel-origin story of a well-known fairy tale. I was reminded that these days (maybe always?) there is a fascination with origin stories–where our heroes came from and how they came to be. You can see this sort of thing in superhero flicks and biopics on the big screen pretty much any weekend. Do you ever wonder why that is? Why are people so interested in the origins of their heroes?
I suppose the reason we love stories (and make no mistake, human beings have always loved telling and hearing stories) is that we hope by hearing stories of heroes and villains, great obstacles and greater victories that we will somehow learn something to help us process and proceed with our own personal stories. This is where the Gospel is so vital. God has written a story for every Human being, for the whole of Humanity together. Rather than constantly searching for a story that explains your own, you can simply believe in what he has already written for you. And yes, there is an origin story for you. It starts at the very beginning in Genesis 1:26-31. Here is what it tells us about ourselves.
We were made. Human beings are not an accident. We are not a by-product of inanimate, impersonal natural forces. We are an on-purpose creation born out of the all-powerful and all-wise mind and heart of the Creator of the Universe. Don’t undersell the value of your life.
We were made to be like God. Not like animals. Not a brand new, never-conceived-of-without-model-or-comparison entity. Human beings were made like God. So you should not act like an animal nor should you think it right to define your own story, you should act like God. Your life is divine. Are you living like it?
We were made to rule the Earth. When you feel weak and powerless in the World and that feels all wrong, don’t doubt that feeling; you’re onto something. Because of sin (rebellion against God our Creator) our ability to fulfill the initial commission given to Humanity to “Have dominion” has been lost. But we were supposed to rule this place. That being the case, even if the animals won’t obey you (although you can even do some of that if you work at it) you should at least exercise some ‘dominion’ over your own desires and actions. Live with self-control, dominion over self–you were made for it.
We were made for intimate, complementary relationships. I know it can be scary to open your life up to any, much less many, other flawed (and potentially dangerous) person, but if you try to live a self-sufficient, self-absorbed, self-centered life then you will be poor and miserable when the curtain closes. God is love. You were made to be like God. You have to learn to live in loving relationships with others (even, and perhaps especially, with others who are different from you) so that you can contribute to the enrichment of their life and they yours.
We were made to make more. “Be fruitful and multiply” means more than just “Have babies” (although it certainly includes that). God made Humanity to produce, to continue his work of filling the Earth with good. Work was not a curse; it is how we were designed to live. So when you’re out there this week, take it upon yourself to fill up the Earth with good things. Bear fruit (love, joy, peace, etc. – Galatians 5:16-26) and use whatever opportunities you have to multiply the life that God has given you (see Matthew 25:14-30).
Origin stories are great. But of course the only reason the beginning of a story is of interest is because of the ending. Genesis 1 only matters because we know that the Son of God came to Earth, became one of us, liberated us from the fear of emptiness and death so that we could fulfill the promise of what God intended from the beginning. New creation, godliness, power and self-control, loving relationships, and fruitfulness are only possible in him. So today take up your cross, give your life over to “Follow” the Master Man so that you can complete the story, your story that God wrote out from the Beginning.