I’ve spent the first few days of the new year reading and contemplating the Book of Genesis. It’s not my first journey down that road, but each time I read the book I come away with a new appreciation for its depth.
Genesis is not so much about man’s beginning relationship to God, although that’s a part of it, rather it is history – Israel’s beginning history. In actuality, very little is said about God comparatively speaking. Out of the over fifteen hundred verses, God (the names of God) appears less than four hundred times. Not four hundred verses, but mentions. Furthermore, only through chapters 8-35 do we see the mentioning of altars being built to God, the most significant one is the encounter of God with Jacob at the Jabbok (ch 32). So clearly the emphasis is not on God per se but on His people.
There seems to me to be a correlation of that concept in today’s church. It appears that the primary emphasis is on God and not on his people. Most of what is said or taught seems focused on knowing God/Christ with sometimes casual reference to God’s people – who we are and what kind of persons we should be. The relational nature of God/Christ is referred to yet with little emphasis on what that relationship entails. For many evangelicals, the idea centers more on coming to know Christ, with minimal availability for discipleship – what it means to know Christ and follow Christ.
Progressively, from the Old Testament to the New, God’s relationship to man is the emphasis. However, that relationship is characterized by who we become in Christ, not that we are in Christ. Certainly, being in Christ is the beginning, but fleshing that out is the emphasis. Genesis is a decent reflection of that idea.
It is GOD who takes the initiative to repair the relationship marred by the sin of His creation. It is God that acts, God that calls, God that rescues, God that redeems. None of it is initiated by people. We are the responder, not the initiator. However, once we respond, there is an inherent obligation that comes along with our response. Genesis sets that up in order for the remaining books of the Pentateuch to make sense.