We are starting the first week of school with Catalyst. Catalyst will be a time where people who want to go deeper in their faith, be equipped, and empowered to share their faith will meet. It starts at 7pm on Wednesday nights when NIU classes are in session.
Our first meeting will begin with Genesis. If you want to know more about the Christian faith, there is no better place to start then in Genesis. Genesis Chapters 1-3 are so jam-packed with seeds that bloom throughout the rest of the Bible that it is essential to unpack as much of it as you can. If the Gospel of John is a deep pool Genesis 1-3 is a cave that once you start exploring never seems to run out of new adventures. There are always new caverns and small openings to explore that lead you down a multi-connected path.
I feel like the sad part about Genesis 1-3 is that we tend to focus on the wrong stuff. In our current American culture, we try to find out how old the earth is, or how things are created. I truly believe if you think this is all the beginning of Genesis is then you are missing out on so much. The opening chapters of the Bible are so much more than it offers us riches of gold and silver, while most people are satisfied finding pennies.
What do we miss out on? Here is a taste. Genesis chapters 1-3 begin patterns through keywords, phrases, or settings that clue us into connecting stories. For example, Genesis 1 talks about God seeing things and deeming them good. Chapter 1 and 2 God creates humanity, and they are to be God’s representatives and co-workers in creation. Chapter 3, humans desire to be more than representatives. God gives a clear command not to eat fruit from one tree. The humans named human and life, see the fruit, that is good for food and pleasing to the eye, that they are not supposed to eat. They desire the fruit because it can gain them wisdom. So they take the fruit and eat it. They then are full of shame and hid. They hear God and God says, “What have you done?” Finally, there is some sort of suffering caused by the actions. After this someone has a terrible excuse. If you follow this pattern, you can see it pop up in other stories like the Abraham, Sarah, and Haggar story or the King David story.
We are supposed to take notice when the pattern changes. That each time there is something that is added to the pattern, that leads to even more wow moments later when the pattern re-emerges. However, there is one time the pattern breaks. The pattern breaks with Jesus. During Jesus' temptation, we see him set up in a moment about authority. The Tempter offers Jesus rulership of the world if he would bow to him. This puts Jesus in a similar position as Adam and Eve. They both were already like God with his authority meant to rule over creation. Jesus is also put in that position. He is the one that with his name every knee will bow. The pattern tells us that at this moment the story will usually show Jesus screw this up some how. Yet, Jesus replies, "not my desire, but your desire lord." This breaks the pattern. Jesus skips the give, take, shame, and "what have you done" part, all the way to the suffering. Jesus' suffering then leads not to more suffering, but to new life. In most of the stories the suffering is given not just to the person but has bigger negative consequences for the community, yet with Jesus, the effects are life, blessings, newness. Jesus becomes the pattern breaker. Jesus becomes the person who offers empowerment to break our own patterns that we are trapped in.
The patter is designed to show us what we often call the fall. It shows us over and over again that humanity has a pattern or behavior that we continually choose self over others or ourselves over God. The thoughtful answer I feel this pattern invites us to ask is, “what patterns do we have in our lives that lead to suffering. A pattern that we will always choose ourselves over others, or ourselves over God? Equally as important how can the pattern breaker transform your life? Jesus breaks this pattern and offers a new way of living, a new life if you will. So how can Jesus change your life?