Your Questions from “Epic,” Week 1
Each week in the Sunday bulletin, you’ll find a card offering a space to ask the questions you might have about the week’s message. We’re covering all of the Bible at a pretty good clip, so there may be times when you want to go into more detail or get clarification on a point brought up in the service. Use the cards in your bulletin to ask us! A member of the church staff will answer, and we’ll post all the answers here.
These questions were asked after our first sermon in the series, and they’re being answered by our teaching team member, Jerad May.
Question 1: In Genesis 1: 26, it says “Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.” God is talking in plural…who else is with Him during creation?
This is such a great insight! It is really interesting that in this phrasing, we find in the creation story that God refers to Himself in the plural. For Christians, this detail is intensely significant and is, in fact, monumental in our understanding of who God is.
One but Triune
As a Christian community, we worship a God who is uniquely one and three at the same time! We call this the “Trinity” (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Trying to understand this is absolutely mind-boggling and having full understanding of it remains impossible. But here are some semi-helpful ways that people much smarter than myself have tried to bring a clearer perspective to the Trinity:
Classic Egg Example: The shell, the yolk and the white are all different parts of an egg and manifest in different ways (white, yellow; hard gooey) BUT still they are three parts of one egg.
Human Experience: Many people believe that there are three things that make up a person and their experience. They are the Body (Physicality), Soul (Intellect and Emotions), and Spirit (Core; Heart; Essence). Like us, who have been made in the image of God, God is made up of three expressions; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The above are just a few examples and both present helpful insights and logical issues all the same. Nevertheless, the triune nature of God is a mystery to us and the reality is, we will never get it. BUT here is WHY it is important!
Scripture says that humans have been uniquely made in the image of God. One thing we learn about God in the above verse is that God, from the beginning, has always and will always exist in community. In other words, God’s very existence insists that God is in relationship with God’s self (sounds whacko, I know, but its remarkably true about God!). Put plainly, God is and always has been one—yet still in the intense community of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This means, therefore, that as humans who were created in the image of God—part of what it means to be human is that we are to be in intense community with others and God. This is why loneliness stinks and having real loving relationships is so desired.
In fact, when we really think about it, isn’t that the core of what this life is all about? Loving and being in relationship with God and others? Super cool, right!?
Question 2: Where was the Garden of Eden? What surrounded the garden?
The truth is, is we really don’t know.
There are many different hypotheses about where the actual Garden of Eden was, but probably the most supported hypothesis says its location is either somewhere in the whereabouts of Iran or near or close to the Persian Gulf.
These guesses have to do with the description of the Garden of Eden that we find in Genesis 2:10-14. Grab your Bible, look it up and hypothesize for yourself!
That said, if you do look the passage up and read it for yourself, you will find the answer to your second question. Scripture says that it was surrounded by four rivers (Pishon; Gihon; Tigris and Euphrates).
Question 3: What does the existence/creation of ticks/viruses say about God?
This is a fantastically interesting question! Why would God, the Creator of all, create horrible things like ticks or viruses, and what does this say about God?
Well, it’s because they are important components of the natural process of life and death and the order of all of the world! That’s the scientific reason.
But here is the real reason: They are God’s practical joke on people who like to swim and kiss! 😀
All jokes aside: For the sake of getting to the heart of this question (I think), I am going to rephrase it a little if I can.
The question behind this question is, “Why do bad things exist and what does this say about a God who is supposed to be ‘all-Loving?’”
To be honest, this question is truly a rabbit hole that leads to all sorts of crazy deep questions that have been discussed and debated throughout the ages. That being said, the short descriptions that I can give you are not going to be fully satisfactory (and to which I say, read, discuss, study, explore, and pray about these excellent questions yourself and in community!).
Even so, here are a four of the most common ways that many smart people have come to think about this question in general. Some of these I have some major problems with and some of them I feel are more helpful. Some I agree with in part, and some in full. But with the intent to offer you a fair perspective of how many different Christians have throughout history answered this question, here are the main ones:
Bad things are the result of free will. God created all things and gave all things free will. Why? Because God is interested in having authentic and genuine relationships with a creation that has the ability to choose God in return. (What is love without choice?) Therefore, all evil and bad things are the result of creatures (physical and spiritual) choosing not to love or choosing to act in ways that are against God’s design.
Bad things may appear bad to us, but really, God is in control. Because something feels horrible and appears to be terrible, it doesn’t mean that it is. If God is God and in control of all things, we must have faith that all things will ultimately turn for the better under the design and guidance of our loving Father.
Bad things are the result of living in a fallen world. Since the Fall of Adam and Eve, we are living under a Creation that is inherently cursed. While this reality is not a true reflection of what God intended (and what we see in the Garden of Eden), the evil and bad things that we face in this world are the consequences we face because of the wages of sin—which is death.
Bad things are the result of the Enemy. The Bible says that until the return of Christ our King, the Earth is technically under the rulership and authority of the enemy, Satan. Therefore, all of the evil and bad things we experience in this life are evidence of, and consequential to, the fact that as of right now, our Earth is cursed and ruled by Satan.
All these in varying degrees are helpful in some ways and not so much in other ways. It is important, however, to think about this stuff if it bothers you. So, think through these things earnestly, prayerfully and honestly. But most importantly, remember who Jesus (the perfect revelation of God) revealed God to be—a God of extravagant love who takes ashes and dust and turns them into beautiful things!
Question 4: If man was created in God’s image, what if we encounter extra-terrestrial life?
If humanity is ever fortunate or unfortunate enough (depending on what happens next! :-P) to encounter extra-terrestrial life, I believe that this presents no threat to our relation to God (being made in God’s image) or the God that we serve.
God is powerful enough and glorious enough to create many things and very possibly multiple things in His image. Nowhere in Scripture do we find the sentiment that humans are the only creatures that God has ever created in God’s own image. While it might be true that the Bible seems to suggest this here on Earth, it indicates nothing about that in universal terms.
Here is a thought: Perhaps, when we worship God our Creator all together at the end of days, not only will we be side by side all the nations of the earth—but all the species and creatures of our seemingly endless universe! WOW!
Got additional questions about our current series? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out a card on Sunday! All questions will be answered anonymously.