[Jan 01]--First Things First

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. --Genesis 1:1

Ah, a new year! Full of new possibilities and new resolutions (most of which will be broken within a week or two, if you're like me). But before we head into this new year, let's make a new commitment that really matters.

I know that I'm really dating myself, but I remember these things called "checkbooks." For anyone reading this under the age of 20, those were little books in which you kept track of your checking account. You wrote down all your deductions and additions to the money in your account, and thus kept track of how much you had in there at any time. The part I hated was balancing it: Where you had to add all the pluses and minuses on each page and thus came up with a sum which theoretically told you how much was in it. I invariably missed something on a page, discovered that I'd missed it after several minutes or even hours of tedious work, and had to start over again.

My favorite author outside the Bible itself, C. S. Lewis, compared life to that. He said “A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.”

Do you want to make real progress in your life this year? Here's Lewis again: “Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”

I'll confess right up front that I'm a talk-show junkie. One of my favorite hosts in Dennis Prager, a conservative Jew who spent 18 years going thru the first five books of the Bible, known to Jews as the Torah. he says that today's verse is the most important one in all of Scripture. While I might not agree that it's the most important one, I'd agree wholeheartedly that it's the most foundational one (for the same reason he holds). The first verse of the Bible tells us that there is one God and that he created everything. If he didn't, if all this is just an accidental collision of atoms, then we're not accountable to anyone. But if he did create everything, including us, then we're accountable to him. He has the innate right to hold certain expectations of us. If we get that wrong, everything else will be wrong. If you want to change your life, it starts with thinking right, with thinking rightly about things. Imagine life as a great river. What happens at the head of the river makes a huge difference. If someone pollutes the river at the head, then everything down the river will be polluted as well.

That's why I think that we need to focus on Genesis, especially the first three chapters. Everything else we believe--or should believe--flows down from this. It’s been my firm belief for a long time that there are absolutely no major erroneous belief in philosophy or worldview which can't be corrected by a thorough reading of the first three chapters of Genesis. If you get these chapters right, then the rest of the Bible (and life itself) will make much more sense, and you’ll avoid a host of common fallacies.

Here are some points we can glean from just these first words of the Bible:

1) In the beginning This is not merely referring to the beginning of the physical universe but of time itself. There never was a time when he was not. God is eternal.

2) God He is the center of everything. Humanity is extremely important, but we are not the measure of all things. There is one primary Actor in this book, and it's not any human being.

3) created the heavens and the earth. Think about the power displayed by our Creator in this one phrase! He speaks worlds and stars into existence.

Now that we’ve looked at what the verse says, let’s briefly examine two common errors which this one verse can correct.

Humanism, simply put, is the belief that man is the measure of all things. Like all lies from Satan, this is based upon a sliver of truth, namely that humanity is extremely important. But the only glory we have is reflected glory. The moon is a great analogy here: It has no innate light of its own, and its only light is from the sun. Even better, it's brighter or darker (to us) based on how much its surface straight-on reflects the sun (think of the phases). The reason why we’re so important is because our Creator has declared us so, and because we're made in his image.

Many religions also fall into the error of pantheism, coming from pan (meaning “all/everything”) and theos (“God”). It is the belief that God is all and all is God. The tree is God, the rock is God, I am God, you are God. As Lewis pointed out, this is hopelessly behind the times. There was a time in which there existed nothing but God, but that ended with his first recorded words of creation: “Let there be. . .”

I praise you Father, for you are the eternal Creator of everything seen and unseen. You are the center of the universe, and help me to remember that you're God and I’m not. I thank you that you've appointed me to reflect your glory in a way that no one else and nothing else in the universe can.

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