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September 23 lesson: God Created Family

September 17, 2018
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God Created Family

Fall Quarter: God’s World and God’s People
Unit 1: God Created the World

Sunday school lesson for the week of September 23, 2018
By Dr. Nita Crump

Lesson Scripture: Genesis 2:18-24
Key Verse: Genesis 2:24

Purpose: To celebrate the fact that we have been created to live in relationship with God and human beings.

Paul Simon sings: “I am a rock, I am an island….” The song closes with the words that, I believe, give us the reason for the song: “A rock feels no pain and an island never cries.” Sadness pervades the words of that song. The singer wants no connection, no friendship, no relationship.  Instead he wants to remain inside his fortress so that none may come close enough to cause him pain. When we think about being alone, often we default to the understanding of loneliness found in these words – aloneness is an antidote to the pain that relationships bring.

Throughout Genesis 1, God pronounced his creation good. Now we find in verse 18 the first time God said that something was not good.  God determined that being alone was not good for the human he had created. In order for us to go deeper in this thought, we need to lay aside our normal interpretation of aloneness – that it is directly connected to romantic relationships. We need to approach this scripture and allow it to speak to us about relationships in general.

In Genesis 1:26, God created humanity in his image so that they might rule over the creation. In Genesis 2:18, as God determined that the human’s aloneness was not good, he presented all of creation but did not find a suitable helper for Adam. Once again, he created with more than words. He took a portion of the human he had already created and used it to create another being.  Calling her woman was a way of identifying her as human as opposed to an animal or another form of created being.

This short passage has been interpreted by many to mean that because the woman was created from the man as a helper to him, she was a lesser being. We often interpret helper to mean aide, assistant, gopher. We think of persons who have the more menial tasks in an office or work setting. However, a study of the word translated helper indicates that the word is commonly used as a reference to God himself, indicating that the helper is the stronger one in the pair. The phrase often used in translations of Genesis 2 is “helper that is suitable.” A good translation of this phrase might be companion or counterpart. God created a counterpart who would help Adam with the work of caring for the garden and in so doing, he also created a relationship between two humans that would have the potential for bearing his image.

What does it mean for humans to live in relationship with each other? What does it mean to be family? Families come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. People can be in relationships created by blood, marriage, adoption, friendship, and the ties that bind the faithful together in Christian congregations. Families are made of people who are committed to be in relationship with and offer true help to one another. 

What does it mean to live in relationship with the holy and almighty God, creator of all that is?  What does God bring to a relationship with humanity? Everything. What do we bring to our relationship with the Lord? We should bring a response of love and gratitude to the one who created us and who offers us grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love and all in overwhelming abundance. Should that same response be reflected in our relationships with others? Absolutely! 

The April 2017 issue of The Atlantic Monthly had an article entitled “Breaking Faith.” This article surprised me. It was not a recitation of why declining worship attendance and religious participation was a good thing. It was, instead, a reflection on how declining worship attendance and religious participation was being reflected in society through greater intolerance, conflict, and societal insurrection. Hmmm. Didn’t see that one coming. On reflection, it makes sense.  Christianity teaches that all are a part of the creation that God named as good. Those who would follow the example of Christ learn they should love one another as much as they love themselves and forgive as God has forgiven them. These attributes, when allowed to permeate society, create respectful and compassionate relationships even between those who disagree. Respect and compassion lead to civility, a trait that is growing less and less evident in our society. 

In the last lesson on being created in God’s image, we considered what it meant to be created in God’s image – to carry the essence of God with us, to serve as his representatives in the world, and to be a vessel through which he can accomplish his work. The relationships we have with other humans, especially our family members, should reflect our relationship with God and the image that we carry of him. Do our relationships with others reflect God to the world around us?  Can God work through our relationships to show the world what it means to be loving and gracious to others? 

God created us to live in relationship with him and with other human beings. I pray that we will allow our relationships with family, friends, and those who are part of our Christian families to be vessels through which God can show the world that grace, compassion, and respect are still viable ways of relating to others. 

(Information in this article was drawn from The New Application Commentary, Genesis, From biblical text…to contemporary life, John H. Walton, p 176-193 and from the Teacher’s Edition of the Adult Bible Studies, Uniform Series, International Bible Lessons for Christian Teaching.)

Dr. Nita Crump serves as Director of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at nitac@sgaumc.com.

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