Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
April 10, 2016
Why you can give up despising yourself
One day a long time ago God decided to populate the earth with human beings. The Bible, with beautiful imagery, explains this creation so simply that children can understand it. Almighty God, after creating order out of chaos, gathered up some dust from the ground and with his hands formed a man. Then he breathed into the man’s nostrils and the man came alive.
When the work of creation was done, God looked at it and admired it. It said it was good. We are safe ground then to conclude that a human being is a good thing and that life is a gift from our Creator. The Bible goes on to teach us that God not only likes each of us, he loves us.
Yet many people despise themselves. The truth be known, self-despising is widespread. Repeatedly I encounter people who, in agonizing despair, complain that they are worthless, having no value to anyone. Hope has vanished. Their minds are numbed by an awful sense of meaninglessness.
My heart broke to hear my father, in his declining years, ask me many times, “Why did God let me live so long?” I tried to assure him that he was alive because God’s purpose for his life was not yet completed. I did my best to encourage him to trust God to the end.
Reading the Genesis accounts of creation is a great tonic for despairing souls. Here is the exciting news that the living God created human beings for a divine purpose. Human beings have value because they were created for a reason – to know God, love God and serve God.
Believing this about the origin of man generates hope. Faith grows in the fertile soil of such thinking. Embrace the teaching of Genesis about creation and you safeguard your mind against the invasion of hopelessness. Without hope, it is misery, not mercy that is fresh every morning. Without hope, nothing tastes good; nothing stirs our passion to make the most of each new day.
Settle for a lesser worldview and you are vulnerable to cynicism. The cynic buys the notion that man crawled out of a primordial swamp as a tiny amoeba and in time became an ape, finally evolving into a man. For the writer of Genesis, there is a nobler way to explain man’s family tree.
If we accept the idea that our ancestors were “swamp things,” then it becomes difficult to hold a lofty view of the value of human life. We become vulnerable to the belief that a human being has no more lasting significance than a stray dog on the side of the road.
If, however, our ancestors were people who talked with God, like Abraham and Moses, and Peter and Paul, then it is easier to believe that human beings were created in the image of God for a special purpose, to fulfill a plan conceived in the heart of a loving Creator.
Does Genesis offer two accounts of creation? Yes. Are these accounts conflicting? No. They complement each other, describing the creation story from two different angles. In both accounts God is the Creator and the creation of man is the peak of God’s creative work. Human beings are made in God’s image, thus demonstrating the value of human life.
Genesis begins with the assumption that God exists: “In the beginning God”! Secularists insist that God is man’s idea. Genesis declares that man is God’s idea! Man’s significance stems from having being made in the image of God. This makes humans uniquely different from animals.
The primary difference is that human beings can have a dynamic relationship with God. We can hear God, speak to God, love God, thank God, have communion with God and serve God. Humans are capable of obeying God or disobeying God. Horses and dogs cannot. Genesis helps us understand our uniqueness by underlining our power to make decisions, especially decisions that can affect the quality of our lives. Other “creatures” are not burdened by the need to obey God’s commands.
Genesis pays tribute to man’s capacity for reason by explaining that God asked man to name the animals and birds. The capacity to think can be used for good or ill. That we may choose to enhance our relationship with God is an exhilarating thought! To ignore the opportunity to develop a mature relationship with God is foolish misuse our intelligence.
What Genesis says about us should inspire us. God created us. He called us “good.” He gave us work to do. He expects us to obey Him. He desires intimacy with us. We experience intimacy through loving obedience. We find significance in living life God’s way. We see the ultimate proof of our value to God in his willingness to let his Son die on the cross for our sins. He loved us that much! So much that He wanted to give us new and richer “life” in His Son.
In the beginning God recognized man’s loneliness so He created a woman. Herein we find the biblical foundation for the institution of marriage. The concept of marriage was God’s idea, not an institution designed by man. In every age rebellious people weaken the moral fiber of society by undermining the sacred nature of marriage. But we need not fret. Culture changes; God’s eternal Word is unchanging. His ways will survive the onslaught of evil.
What a high privilege – to cherish and use wisely the gift of life! Hopelessness cannot exist in the heart of one who believes he has value because God made him. Self-despising gives way to praising God. Negative thinking is overwhelmed by the soul’s explosion of gratitude for the goodness of the loving God who gives us life! + + +