We believe that all persons are made in the image of God with a capacity to make moral choices, and given the responsibility to manage creation. God desires all human life to begin in families where husband and wife are covenanted together under God for life.
If God were to offer workshops in Heaven, I’d sign up for Creation 101. Explanations, understanding, a quest for knowledge; these have driven mankind ever since God breathed life into Adam and Eve. But what can we know, what does Scripture offer us in terms of clarifying the Creator and His creation? Genesis 1:1 sets the focus: “In the beginning God…” As Terry Hiebert stated in our first of 12 offerings on EMMC Confession of Faith: “The Confession assumed we believe that God exists…” [EMMC Recorder, May/June 2014, Volume 51, Number 3] God is, and always will be, about revealing Himself, not explaining. While many debate or even offer scientific theories out of nature, a supernatural God defies explanation. How else could He be supernatural? He begins by creating the universe, with the climax on Day 6 when He breathed life into Adam and Eve, created in His very own image.
Image of God
Male and female, distinct, with different characters and function, yet both are image bearers, flesh and bones, reflecting the nature of the invisible Creator. Interestingly He fashioned them as Male and Female, yet both equally a reflection of God. How do these unique male and female image bearers reveal more about God? On the surface it may appear that God has a split personality. When you follow the work of an artist we see not only the images that are shaped on the canvas but the character of the one who created it. Genesis 2:24 help us see how marriage, a man and a woman, are an extension of God’s character that is built on relationships and not on created objects. While God’s expansive canvas, our universe, is significant, it is essentially the backdrop for a greater purpose. That is to reveal His character and glory as demonstrated by the coming together of a man and a woman.
We live in a world that seems intent on obscuring these gender distinctions. This includes the church. One needs only to pay attention to writers, preachers and denominations periodicals that strive for political correctness – preferring words like gender-neutral, inclusiveness, equality, etc. This problem isn’t new to our time. Paul nails it in Romans 1: They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.
God has placed a high value on human beings. They are the gem of His creation, a true reflection of the Creator, and as such deserve to be respected and valued.
The true test of a good relationship lies in the choices we make. Having this inherent privilege to make choices makes us capable of having genuine living relationships with our Creator and with our fellow human beings. Implicit in having moral choice then is a conscience that makes us
aware of the difference between right and wrong. So we are capable of praise, blame, counsel, and exhorting each other. We are not robots but rational beings, able to think, draw conclusions and make sensible decisions, but also with the free will to make moral choices. As humans we have the ability to obey God and the freedom to disobey Him.
Because God created human beings with a free will, it was up to them, not God, as to whether or not sin and moral evil would enter the world. God’s plan had the potential for moral evil when He bestowed on human beings the gift of free will. Evil is inherent in God’s risky gift of free will. God made moral evil possible, but humans made it actual.
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Psalm 24:1. In placing mankind as managers or stewards of creation God did not give up His Sovereign ownership. Stewardship expresses our obedience to God by managing everything that He has placed under our care. It is an expression of commitment of one’s self and possessions to God’s service. However, in being faithful stewards we acknowledge that we do not have the right of control over our property or ourselves. In a recent article, author Bill Peel, Executive Director of The Center for Faith, makes this distinction between being owners or managers of creation:
Although God gives us “all things richly to enjoy,” nothing is ours. Nothing really belongs to us. God owns everything; we’re responsible for how we treat it and what we do with it. While we complain about our rights here on earth, the Bible constantly asks, What about your responsi- bilities? Owners have rights; stewards have responsibilities.”
The creation events of Genesis 1 and 2 regarding the makeup of family are not abstract or ambiguous. Despite the Fall of mankind, the teaching of Scripture maintains this specific and high ideal for family: That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh, Genesis 2:24. In the New Testament both Jesus and Paul quote this passage (Matthew 19:5 and Ephesians 5:31) in affirming God’s original intent for the marriage and the family.
It is easy for us as Christians and our denomination to scrutinize the world’s attempt to obliterate and discount this well-defined institution. We point fingers at the high divorce rate, latch-key kids, porn industry and gay pride week; but the sad truth is that we see these devalued standards creeping into the church.
When our Confession of Faith was drawn up by the leaders of the EMMC, and adopted in 2001 the challenge to the family was not nearly as blatant as it is today. While it is accurate and underpinned with good biblical exegesis it may be time, in light of current trends, for Conference leaders to be more explicit about what we believe. To not do so would be to risk compromising our understanding of Scriptures in this regard and be led off course as is happening in many Christian organizations and denominations.
Al Kehler is the pastor of the Hague Gospel Church, SK and Region 1 Coach. He is also a member of the EMMC Theology Committee.
EMMC Confession of Faith
Part 2 of 12-part series
May / June 2014 The Recorder