It’s All About Relationship

fishing with grandpa

The other day a pastor came into the office and shared the story of going fishing with his grandson.  He spoke about how many fish they caught, how he enjoyed the time together, how the young one was already talking about the size of his catch in real fisherman-speak, and how the grandson wanted to stay with his fish from from ocean to supper.   The pastor had been fishing for decades.  It was a spiritual discipline.  It was relaxation and restfulness.  It was refreshment and re-creation.  “It’s something we can do together that helps him calm and focus.”  What was most impressive to me, was the way he shared the attentiveness of the young boy as he filleted the fish and prepared dinner.  How the child watched with pride and how the grandfather taught responsibility.  “We never take a fish we don’t eat, there is always respect for the life it gave.”  The love and pride of this grandfather filled the room as he spoke.

The reading this week, Chapter 1, “Creation: The Beginning of Life as We Know It”, strikes me as a story of relationship and responsibility.

If you hang around me much, you’ll hear me say over and over and over again, “It’s all about relationship.”  Whether I’m talking about conflict in a church, the structure of the presbytery, the newest war in the middle east, or the growth of the Christian faith, I will always stress the impact of our relationship with one another and our relationship to God.  The creation story is just that … a story of relationship.  It is not a story of “how” so much as a story of “who?” “why?” and “for what purpose?”

“In the beginning God created.” This is the point of it all, isn’t it?  That God is the one who calls the world, the whole universe, humankind, and you and me into being.  And in all that, creation is begun with relationship: light and dark, heavens and earth, land and water, night and day, plant and animal, male and female, God and Human.  Our very existence is one based on togetherness and connectivity.  Our chief purpose is to glorify God, to receive the gift of creation, to grow in partnership — that is, to be fruitful and multiply, and we are given responsibility for “everything that has the breath of life in it.”  Relationship and Responsibility.

The story of Adam and Eve is the core of our relationship … God creates Adam and gives him all of creation; but God sees that it is not enough, so God creates Eve … companionship, partnership … “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”  We are not meant to be alone.  At this point, though, God puts a limit on us … out of love, out of caring.  We were created with an innocence, an ignorance of how the world can be.  Ahhhhh, like any parent or grandparent, how we long to keep our children from danger — from pain, shame, guilt, failure, consequence, evil.  Don’t we all want to shield our children from the pain of the nightly news?  Don’t we want to protect them from war, floods, fire and abuse?  In the beginning, God protects our innocence, by offering one rule.

We were, however, created in the image of God, with the very breath of God and constantly desire to be like God.  So when the Serpent tells us that IF we eat the fruit of knowledge, we will KNOW as God knows … we are consumed with desire, curiosity, and self-confidence.  It’s hard for me to see this as much different than the natural, human desire of a child to be like Mommy or Daddy.  We want to be a grown-up; we see more, and we want more … often more than we are ready for.  And so, Adam and Eve, eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  And they become aware of more than they ever dreamed … the nakedness, the guilt, the pain, the horror, the banishment, the longing, the work, the brokenness of life.

I don’t think God punishes Adam and Eve for mis-behaving.  I think God is genuinely disappointed that his prized creation now has to experience what God already knows … that evil exists, that there is a pain in “knowing”.  God continues to protect his children by sending them from the garden where life in this new knowledge would be unbearable for their human spirit.  God guards the entrance to this place of immortality and gifts the woman and the man with a way to protect their new vulnerability … clothes to cover them and strengthen them in the new world.

With knowledge comes responsibility.  There is a crazy comfort in ignorance, I suppose.  But while God created us as innocents, we weren’t created to be ignorant.  As we care for each other, we learn.  As we learn, we grow.  As we grow, we realize how limited we really are; fear, jealousy, anger, greed, and hostility develop.  We also forget … that our primal and continual relationship is with God … that we are created to glorify God and to live in God’s goodness.  So we have the stories of Cain and Abel (and the Tower of Babel, though it’s not included in The Story) … leading us to God’s utter disgrace at what his creatures have become … so disconnected from him, so disconnected from each other.

Even in God’s disgrace, though, love and care win out.  God is moved by Noah and his family.  God enters into a Covenant … The footnote defines covenant as a “… promise between two parties” that is “intended to be unbreakable.”  After the flood, the destruction, and the salvation of Noah and his family, God promises, “never again.”  And the relationship between God and humanity grows to one of even greater mutuality, even greater responsibility … as we’ll see in the next chapters.

Discussion Questions:

  • What stood out to you in this first chapter?
  • I have an intentional “Grace-filled” bias in my re-telling of the story.   Others see more of the “fear” of God or the “wrath” of God.  What is your understanding of the nature of God?
  • What do you think when you hear that God has gifted us with responsibility for creation and for our relationships with each other?

2 thoughts on “It’s All About Relationship

  1. Pingback: Where You Lead, I Will Follow … | The Story

  2. I have no idea how many times I have read and heard this story in the past, but what stood out to me this time was that creation didn’t all happen at once. There were steps over the course of “days”. I know I get impatient for things to be done or to be resolved and it’s helpful to remember that not only was Rome not built in a day, but the world wasn’t created in a day either.

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