THIS IS US: Living as Human  Genesis 1:26-2:24

Last Sunday we started a new series called This Is Us and we’re exploring the different dimensions and dynamics of what it means to be human.  Last week we asked the question “what does it mean to be human?” and we said there are a lot of things that are attached to how we answer that question.  We wanted to say that we’d just look at the Scriptures and read them and let’s see what God said about what it means to be human.  Last week we started in the book of Genesis and looked at Genesis 1 and 2.  We weren’t discussing the ‘how’ and the ‘when’ of God’s creation, but the ‘why’ and the ‘who.’  The ‘who’ created and the ‘why’ He created is the story Genesis is telling us.  It means four things to be human:  1) Recognizing that we are created beings.  2) Realizing we carry the image of God.  3) Coming to the awareness that we are both breath and dust, flesh and spirit, soul and body. Not one or the other but both.  4) We were designed to commune with the Creator.  We were designed to walk with God.  So we answered the question “what does it mean to be human?” sort of on a fundamental level, on a base level, but we didn’t answer the question “how do we LIVE as human beings?”  We created the platform to stand on, but this morning I want to talk about how we really walk in our designed humanity.  What are the things that we do?  What’s the meaning of life?

People have been asking THAT question for ages.  We certainly are human beings, but we also are human “do-ings.”  We DO things as people.  We wake up in the morning and we have to spend our time doing something.  And the doing reflects, just as much as the being, what it means to be human.  What it means to be a created-by-God person walking the planet.  I wanted to propose a question this morning: What’s the meaning of life?  In order to answer that, I did what every red-blooded American would do.  I googled it!  Actually, first, I asked Siri, my phone.  Here’s the way Siri answered it:  All the data that exists points to chocolate!  That’s the meaning of life. Here’s another one of Siri’s answers:  I can’t answer that right now, but give me some time to write a play which is about nothing.  She also answered by saying, “I think there’s an app for that.”  So when I googled it, I found a picture (a comic) with a man meeting with God and he says, “I want to know the meaning of life.”  God answers, “Have you tried googling it?”  That gets us into circular reasoning, does it not?  Right?  All that to say, it’s not exactly a simplistic question to answer, is it?

What is the meaning of life?  What should we do with however many years God gives us?  What should our days look like?  Is there a design for the way that we would use the time that God has given us?  I want to posit that there is and that we can find that answer in the first two chapters of the Scripture’s Book of Beginnings, or Genesis.  Genesis 1:26-27.  After creating the heavens and the earth, we’re on day six of this creation narrative, listen to what God says:  Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 

My mom had an ardent prayer that she used to tell me she prayed for me.  It wasn’t that I would find the girl of my dreams, anecdotally, I did.  It wasn’t that I would flourish in life, although I believe that I am.  Her prayer over me was that I would have a son that was like me!!  That was her prayer.  I want to tell you this morning, her prayer has been answered and he’s driving me crazy!  He’s exactly like me!  We go to meet with his teachers for parent-teacher conferences and all three years, different teachers but they say the same thing:  Ethan has a lot of energy, which is covert for “he’s out of control sometimes.”  That’s the teacher’s way of saying, “This kid has the ability to ruin my class somedays.”  He is—what you would like to call—strong-willed.  He’s Type A.  In our family this is what it means.  If we have a day where nothing’s planned, Ethan will plan the day for us.  It also means that if he doesn’t like the plan, he will propose a better one.  And he will do whatever he can to make sure his plan is executed.  You know who that reminds me of?  ME!  Not only that, but he looks like me. He’s got the same cowlick in his hair.  He’s got the same eyes.  The dude is a mini me!  He’s created in my image.  Here’s the thing:  You may or may not be created in your parents’ image, you’re certainly created in your God’s image.  The Scriptures are really clear.  Four times in the first chapter of Genesis, the Scriptures say that you’re created in the image of the Almighty God.  The question we have to answer is “what does that mean?”  It certainly does not mean that God has THIS part in his hair and this cowlick that sticks straight up, because God is spirit.  What DOES it mean to be created in the image of God?  I want to propose to you that the answer to that question is also the answer to the meaning of life.  Let that sit on you for a second.  That the way we answer ‘what does it mean to be created in the image of God’ is also the way that we answer ‘what does it mean to be human in the way we live and do.’

I’ll say it as strongly as this this morning, knowledge of the image of God in us leads to flourishing for us.  If we start to come to an awareness of God—this is what you’ve designed me to be like and this is your God-given, innate, soul-level calling on my life….if we come to a knowledge, or awareness, or a recognition of THIS image of God in us and all that it means for us, we are then positioned to flourish and to live.  It allows us to live with clarity.  It allows us to live with deep meaning and purpose.  It allows us to live in truth, or in alignment with the way that God has not only created us, but shaped and formed the world for our inhabiting.  All of these things are attached to what it means to be created in the image of God.  Mark Twain, the great author, said this: “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day that you find out why.” I want to at least give you the Bible’s answer for WHY this morning.

What does it mean to be created in the image of God?  I’m going to propose that Scriptures give us, in the first two chapters of Genesis, at least three things that it means.  In Genesis 1:26-27, we see that God has just created the heavens and the earth.  He’s created the sun and the moon.  He’s created the earth to give birth to plants, he calls them out of the earth.  Animals, creatures, all sorts of things.   And then what he says about humanity is you’ve been created in the image of God.  Reading through this text, the main thing we know about God thus far is that He is creative.  That’s at the base level.  If we just read along, He created stars and moon, heaven and earth, humanity, everything in the world.  The main thing we know about God when he tells us we’re created in his image is that he is a CREATIVE being.  You know one of the main thing it means to be created in the image of God is that you were created to CREATE.  It’s what it means to be created in God’s image.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that that statement about being created in his image follows a majestic retelling of God’s creative magnificence.  He places something similar in you.  Human beings aren’t massed produced.  You know that God doesn’t have an assembly line where he just cranks them out, one after the other, Model-T style.  No.  You are an individual, creative being of the Most High God and instilled within you is the desire to create in the same way that your God creates.

There’s some limiting factors to our creative prowess, certainly, that God does not have.  Mainly, God is able to create ex nihilo, which means ‘out of nothing.’  You may have noticed you don’t have that same ability.  So it’s not exactly like God, but it’s with the same desire and with the same longing to make something of the world that God has created.  If this is right, if this is true, if this is correct, we should be able to see someplace in this creation narrative humanity being called to be creative.  Flip over to Genesis 2:18-19.  This is God’s creation of Adam; Adam is in the garden and this is what it says:  Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.   Notice what’s going on here.  God creates Adam, places him in this paradise-type garden, and He gives him the task…..Adam, I’m going to parade in front of you every being that I’ve created and I want you, Adam, to give it a name.  Here’s a question:  Could God have just named the animals?  Yes!  But he doesn’t do that.  God actually creates space for Adam to look at his creation and to name it.  To speak into the things God has created and to play a part, even though God could have done this a number of different ways.  God is creating space for humanity, his image-bearers, to begin to grow into the vast cosmic purpose that he has disclosed in Genesis 1.  He’s perfectly capable of doing this on his own, but He invites you to be a part of it.

Before we go further, let me ask you, “Does your view of who God is have space for your innately creative desires and capabilities?”  A lot of us have this cumbersome view of God.  Like He’s watching Adam name the animals and He’s in the background going, “Certainly wouldn’t have called it that!” or “Rhinoceros, that’s going to take a long time to write,” or “Giraffe–why in the world would you call it that, Adam?”  A lot of us have a view of God where He’s looking on going, “Wow,I wouldn’t have done that, but I guess since I gave you the calling to do it, I’m going to HAVE to go with that.”  I think God looks on and goes, “Huh, interesting!”  “Huh, brilliant!” “Huh, that’s what I created you for, Adam!”

What does it mean to be creative?  It means to live in God’s world in a way where we take the material that God has created, and we add to it our imagination, and our dreams, and our hopes, and our thoughts, and what pops out is a new way of imagining the world.  What pops out is creativity!  God’s resources + your imagination = creativity.  That’s exactly what Shari’s (Malott) doing to my left — she’s taking God’s resources and she’s taking HER thoughts and she’s putting it on a canvas.  That’s the creative act happening in front of us.  It’s a calling from God.  It’s an invitation from God.

You don’t have to continue to read too far before we see it start to develop at a more rapid pace in the book of Genesis 4:20-22.  These are descendants from Adam and Cain. Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. {We start to see this creative ability taking place and forming and shaping the way that human beings live.}  His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.  {So, Genesis 4, we see the creation of music.  It’s pretty early on, is it not?  God’s material + human imagination = the lyre and the pipe}  Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron.  Genesis 4 — Creation of the way that we dwell together in community.  Incipient forms of music and art.  Then the way we eventually start to make tools and things out of the world that God has made.  All because God has placed deep inside of us the longing, the desire, or even the need, to be creative.

My wife and I occasionally watch this show Fixer Upper, where this couple will go into an old home and show another couple, whose the buyer, the home.  The home is not worth living in at that point in time.  This creative couple bring another couple into the home and paint a picture of what it could be like.  Sometimes the purchasing couple looks at the home and says, “I just can’t see it.”  Sometimes they look at it and go, “Oh yeah, I could see that taking place.”  The ability to “see it” is a creative act.  But I think a lot of humanity falls into the category of “I just can’t see it.”  Let me do a quick survey — How many of you look at what Shari is doing right now and think, “I could never do that!”  {Hands go up.}  I’m with you!  My kids, your kids—if they’re under the age of 10—would look at that painting and go, “Oh sure, I could do that!”  You’ve never met a second grader who didn’t think they were an artist.  Something happens to us as we “mature.”  Something happens to us as we grow and become more “developed.”  We lose this ability…..   Erwin McManus, pastor and author, says it like this: “I have come to realize, after over thirty years of studying human creativity, that the great divide is not between those who are artists and those who are not, but between those who understand that they are creative and those who have become convinced that they are not.”  Which category do you fall into?

I’m not just talking about creativity in art or music.  I’m talking about making something of the world that God has invited you to live in.  Here’s the problem.  Something happens to us at the end of elementary school—that’s a completely unscientific number, but somewhere around there.  {Fourth grade.  That’s scientific because it comes from Shari.}  Here’s four things that start to happen.  We start to compare.  We start to look at what somebody else does, and if we can’t do it as good as they can or in the same way that they can, the narrative we start to tell ourselves is if I can’t do it as good as them, I’m not good at it.  We start to compare and we start to shut down.  Secondly, the shame that many of us have deep within our souls, prevents us from inviting people in.  Creating is a deeply personal, intimate act.  Even as Shari paints on stage, she’s showing us something about who she is.  There’s this great book written a number of years ago called Art and Fear and it ties together these ideas that when we create we reveal the most intimate parts of who we are, which is why many of us shut down because we don’t want to be known.

The third thing is it’s so much easier—-and I owe this point to a preacher named Andy Stanley.  He says: “We are so adept at asking ‘how’ when people propose an idea, rather than saying ‘wow.'”  If we got better as the church…..people would say listen, I have this plan to eradicate world hunger…..   Our first question back is “How?”  Well, maybe we need to get better at saying, “Wow!” and creating space for people to work out the ‘how.’   In a rationalistic modernity, we’ve become so focused on the execution that we have killed some of the dreams.  It squelches creativity.

Here’s the fourth reason that many of us aren’t creative anymore.  It’s so much easier to be the critic than it is to be the creative.  Think of the way that even as followers of Jesus we interact with “culture.”  We’re known for lobbing grenades at culture.  We’re the most ardent critics of culture.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t be discerning, but what I’m saying is that instead of being critical in our discerning we should be creative.  Instead of saying that’s not a good way, we should be proposing a better way.

Isn’t that what the early church did?  The early church was beautifully creative.  Read through Acts 2:42-47. The early church is seen as saying “what if….?”  This is a dream, this is a canvas that certainly there’s something on, but they were grabbing a new paintbrush.  What if we created a way of living and being in the empire of Caesar that did not bow the knee to Caesar?  What if we created the culture where everybody had enough?  What if instead of bowing the knee to Caesar we bowed the knee to Jesus and we developed this rhythm of gathering together in homes and celebrating life, and breaking bread, and eating together, and praying what if, what if, what if?  The early church is a spirit-driven creative act that God invites you and I to walk into.

I think one of the questions as we realize we were created to create is “what are the things that stir YOUR heart?”  What are the problems in the world that keep you up at night?  What are the things that God would ask you to speak into?  Your words are one of the most creatively powerful tools that you hold.  Your words can create a different marriage.  Your words can create a different relationship with your kids.  Your words can create different rhythms and meaning with your friends and the peer groups that you have.  You have creative power even in the words that you say.  What’s the dream God’s placed in your heart?  What stirs your heart?  You were created to create.  What’s the material God’s placed in front of you?  What’s the dream that God has put within you?  And then…..CREATE with it!  It’s one of the most humane things you can do.  But wait….there’s more.

Genesis 1:28.  And God blessed them.  And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,  {Reign over it is what ‘have dominion’ means.  Subdue it means to keep it under control.}  and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”   {God repeats this same calling to Adam in Genesis 2:15.}  The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. From the very beginning, we see humanity created to create and we see humanity wired to work.  Certainly in the creation narratives that were present during the time of the writing of Genesis, they would have had an understanding that human beings were created in order to work, but a very different understanding than the way that Genesis portrays this.  For example, in the Enuma Elish, which was around at this time, human beings were created by the “god Marduk.”  Marduk created human beings in order to work so that the gods could rest.  As if the gods are up in heaven going, “Man, I’m really exhausted here.  I need someone to change a channel on the TV for me.  I need somebody to get me an iced tea.  We should create human beings so that they can do that kind of stuff for us.”  Which isn’t at all the way that Genesis proposes we are invited to work.  Our invitation to work is to link arms and partner with God.  Not in the ex nihilo creation that He is doing in this act of creation in Genesis 1, but in the making something of the world that God has made.  Look at Psalms 8:3-6.  It’s sort of a parallel passage to Genesis 1 and 2.  David, the psalmist, says: When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you care for him?  {That’s a great question, isn’t it?  God, you created it all.  God, you spoke it all into existence, why would you care about us? Oftentimes that is where the conversation ends.  We’re so small; God’s big.  To that I say yes and amen.}  Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.  You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet. 

This “dominion” word is the calling to both work and to keep.  Yes, you were created to create.  You were also wired to work.  Which goes very contrary to the way that we often operate and the world, does it not?  Work is often seen as a necessary evil, rather than a divine blessing.  I’ll give you a statistic that backs that up.  They did a ten-year study in Scotland a number of years ago.  What they found was that you are 20% more likely to have a heart attack on one day of the week than you are on any other day.  Any guesses on what day you’re more likely to have a heart attack on?  MONDAY!  Why is that?  We’ve lost the connection between the God-given design to work as part of his image that’s placed inside of us.  Let me give you two God-given reasons you work:  1) To provide.  That’s a really good, healthy thing.  It’s not the same as it was for Adam.  Now there are thorns and thistles and work is difficult, but it’s not evil, it’s not sinful, and it’s not wrong.  Work is the way that you provide for the people around you.  If you’re an electrician, work is the way you provide for your family.  If you’re a teacher, work is the way you make enough money to help sustain life.  If you’re a stay-at-home mom, your work is the way you provide nurture and character for the kids that God has called you to raise.  Work is the way that we provide.  If you are out of work, that’s one of the reasons it’s most difficult, because you have this desire to provide for the people you love, for yourself.

Provision is reason number one.  Production is number two.  It’s one of the things that makes work meaningful; that we produce things that are ultimately for the common good.  Martin Luther, I would propose is one of the best authors on this, because he realized that the Scriptures say that God feeds us, that He provides the bread. Martin Luther asked the question — That bread, last time I checked, does not fall out of the sky.  That bread has a process that’s attached to it.  There’s a farmer that tills the field. There’s a farmer that scatters seed and waters.  There’s somebody that goes and picks the grain.  There’s somebody who takes the grain and delivers it to the baker.  There’s the baker who does their job and makes great bread.  There’s somebody who takes the bread either to a person to purchase or to a store.  {Will you look up at me for a second.}  Every single one of those jobs is attached to God providing bread.  We could do that with every single industry that there is.  The divide that we have conjured up between the sacred and the secular—some jobs are holy, some jobs are not, some jobs are sacred….being a pastor, a missionary, is a sacred job, but being an electrician or a teacher or you name it is a secular job.  I want to tell you that you can’t find that anywhere in here (Scripture).  All of life is sacred.  I want to tell you…..the plumber that we had unclog our sink this week…   Praise Jesus for the sacred calling that he has on his life!!  Because it all contributes to life being lived in the way that God has called us to.  We not only provide, but we produce, so therefore, our wire-to-work-ness within us, this nature or character or image of God within us, it’s not so that we can be great or that we can be powerful or that we can achieve.  It’s participation in the common good for all of humanity.  That’s why we work.  You can come tell me your job, afterwards, and we can dream about how it’s connected to the common good that everyone benefits from, because I guarantee you it is in some way.

The question then remains:  How should we work?  We answered why:  provision/production.  The question is how?  Let me give you three ways how we should work.  We should work hard.  Scriptures (Col. 3:23-24) say we should work in a way that reflects that we realize we’re working as part of God’s design and God’s common good, not just for the good of our boss, or the good of our stockholders, or the good of our other employees.  We’re working for God.  If you don’t have a good ethic, please, please, please, please, please, don’t tell people at your workplace that you’re a Christian.  I’m serious!  Don’t!  If you’re a terrible worker and you want to flaunt the name of Jesus and “preach” the gospel, I want to tell you, those two things are bumping heads with each other. You were designed to work in a way that reflects that you know you’re working for God.  Work hard and then tell people that you’re a follower of Jesus.  Don’t do it and be late every day.  Work hard.  Second, strive for excellence.  Someone once asked Martin Luther how the Christian shoemaker should do their job.  He asked, “Should the Christian shoemaker put little crosses on all of the shoes?”  That’s typically the way we think about being a Christian in the workplace, right?  He says, “No! The Christian shoemaker should do their job by making really good shoes!”  You want to know how a Christian pilot should do his job?  Land the plane!!  That’s the best thing you could do as a follower of Jesus is you’re a pilot.  Land it safely.

So, we work hard, we strive for excellence and third, we work with rhythm.  This is built in to the Genesis narrative that as human beings we need both work and we need rest.  We need to strive and we need to sleep. Harvard Business Review, a number of years ago, did a study on sleep deprivation in the workplace, and they named it as one of THE main productivity killers in your job place.  For some of you, the best thing you could do for your work life is…..get some sleep!  Serious!  Studies are showing this.  We were created….built into the fabric of creation is the need for both, striving and sleeping.  A rhythm…..of rest and work and taking time—as the book of Ecclesiastes (5:18-19) will invite us to—to celebrate all that God has done.    Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.   You’re not going to avoid work, but you CAN take time to step back and taste of the fruit of your labor.  And you should.  That’s God-given and it’s placed in front of you.  See, being created to create asks the question: What will I make?  Being wired for work asks the question: What will I contribute?  How will I be a part of the story that God is telling, through all of humanity in this progress from the garden to the city, that the whole meta-narrative of Scripture is found within?

Finally: Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  This is one of the passages that I think we sometimes glaze over from a theological stand point.  Notice what’s going on here.  Notice the scene and the setting.  Adam, created by God perfectly, set in the Garden of Eden to walk with God intimately.  This is before sin enters the world, this is before the Fall.  God looks at Adam and he looks at all the things that He’s created—the heavens, the earth, the stars, the trees, the animals—and He goes, “Adam, even with all of that, even with…ME, you are alone.”  So here’s the equation in Genesis….this is going to sound heretical but you’ve got to lay it over the text:  You + God = Not Enough.  We sing songs like “Christ is Enough for Me.”  Right?  Great song.  I’m starting to question if it’s good theology. Certainly anything without God is never enough.  Ever.  But there’s something about being human that says we need relationships.  God didn’t create you to just go live on the top of a mountain and commune with Him. Certainly, communion with Him is essential to what it means to be human, we talked about that last week.  You were created to commune with your Creator.  That’s distinctly and deeply ingrained in the fabric of what it means to be human, but it’s not enough.  God creates Adam.  He creates Eve, so they can have relationship with one another.  Because we all know the words of Simon and Garfunkel, while they make great poetry and a good song, they just don’t ring true: I am a Rock…  I’ve built walls / A fortress, steep and mighty / That none may penetrate / I have no need of friendship / Friendship causes pain. / It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain. / I am a rock / I am an island.   And that is a lie!!  Because you were created to create; you were wired for work; you were formed for friendship.

We’re going to look at this formed for friendship, formed for relationship, formed for love, over the next few weeks.  We’re going to branch off our study and just zoom in on this.  It’s really what the second half of Genesis 2 is made up of and Genesis 3.  What I want to say about it today is that being a carrier of the image of God distinctly means being a communal being, because the image that we carry is that of a communal God.  Let US make man in our image.  Father, Son, and Spirit inviting humanity into the dance that they have been doing before creation was even a blip on the radar.  We are invited into the Godhead, not to BE gods, but to partake of the divine nature.  Deep within us is this need for other people.  Why?  Because God, in His very nature, is a communal being.  God. Is. Love.  This perfect relationship between the Father, Son, and the Spirit has existed before even time did.

Maybe we walk away from this answering the question: What am I called to make?  What am I called to contribute?  Who am I called to love and to walk with?  You know what’s hard about this one—formed for friendship?  It takes time.  It takes margin.  It takes pursuit.  It takes forgiveness, because this just in, we’re going to wrong each other.  It takes being able to see things from another point of view, or at least being willing to forgive people for not seeing yours.  All of those are embodied in what it means to be formed for friendship, relationship, connection with other people.  This is my ten-second Life Group plug.  Life Groups aren’t just a good idea, they’re a God idea.  You were created to walk with people, not just in isolation with God.  I encourage you to sign up today.

So we started by saying that knowledge of the image of God in us leads to flourishing for us.  All of these are held in both tension and in recognition of the nature that God’s placed inside of us.  We’re created to create. We’re wired to work.  We’re formed for friendship.  Those are all really, really good things.  Here’s the danger: If we do not recognize that we carry of God and that it’s attached to every single one of these things, we will turn one of those things into a god for us!  Look at what’s on the board and you tell me are these connected to some of the most drastic and fundamental idolatry that we have seen since the dawn of creation.  I will find my worth in what I create so I make a name for myself.  I’ll be different.  I’ll make things so that people will know me.  I’ll find my worth and my identity in what I produce and the way that I work. I’ll gain wealth and I will be either a workaholic or go the other direction and be sloth.  Love.  Romance.    We turn this into an idol, do we not?  These are the things we see people building an identity on.  When I don’t realize I carry the image of God, I will turn the image of God into a god and I’ll bow down and I’ll worship it.  If knowledge of the image of God leads to flourishing of humanity, a lack of knowledge is a WEIGHT that humanity simply cannot bear, because we have to make meaning of the life that God has given us.  I’m not going to elaborate on these at all, but I will give you a few application points as we close our time together today.

What does it mean to walk in the image of God?  1) To live fully we must dream passionately.  What are the things that God’s put into your heart?  What are the hopes that you have?  Maybe it’s hope of a future for your family, for you as an individual, maybe it’s hope for this nation that we live in.  As we enter into tomorrow…..come on, you guys, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a creative mind….I. Have. A. DREAM!  That it doesn’t have to continue to go this way.  He says maybe my kids can be known by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin!  That is a creative, not-yet dream that Martin Luther King prays and speaks and works towards and that is a beautiful divine thing.  What are the dreams he’s placed inside of you? To live fully we must dream passionately.  2) To live fully we must contribute positively.  A word to the retired — You may no longer be working vocationally, but that doesn’t mean that you are no longer called to contribute positively.  Let that sit there.  3) To live fully we must love sincerely.

So, if this is what it means to be human, the litmus test should be “Well, how did Jesus do?”  Because if He fails our test of what it means to be human, we should be probably come up with different answers or different tests, yes?  To dream passionately…..oh man, are you kidding me?  To have a love that conquers fear; to have a love that defeats hate.  That is a creative act.  To contribute positively….Yes and Amen!  In His life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension….I would argue that Jesus contributed more positively to the develop of society than anybody that has ever walked the face of the earth.  To live fully you must love sincerely.  Does He fit the bill of what it means to live as a human??  YES!! So, friends, let’s live in his way. Let’s live with his heart.  Let’s receive the joy that he invites us to as we do that for his glory and for the good of his world that he dearly loves.  Let’s pray.

Jesus, this morning I would ask for the person who’s in this space and they’re struggling with that question of meaning, purpose, design, would you speak really clearly into their lives.  Would you remind us all today, Father, that you made us in such a way where we’re created to create, we’re wired for work, and we’re formed for friendship.  As human beings, with you at the center of it all, your image inside of us, as we walk with you, would you allow us to take up the mantle of our God-given calling, to both reflect you and to represent you in your great world.  It’s in the name of Jesus that we pray.  Amen.