The Beginning Of Us

The Story Of Us

Pastor Jerry Gillis - September 15, 2019

Community Group Study Notes

  • Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s Teaching.
  • What does it mean for humans to have been made in the image of God? How has sin affected that image?
  • Read Colossians 3:9-10. What does it mean for us to be “renewed in the image”? How do we participate in that?
  • What difference does it make in how you relate to others when you remember that each human is a fellow-image bearer? In what ways is this easy to apply? In what ways is it difficult to apply?
  • What is one action step from the message that you believe God wants you to put into practice in your life this week?


Sermon Transcript

According to the ratings from this past year, the highest rated television show, kind of ongoing television show in our nation was the show that's a three word title called This Is Us. Now, some of you ... don't clap. No, I'm kidding. You can clap, I don't care. This Is Us. If you don't know about the show, that's okay, it's not a recommendation. I'm just kind of telling or passing along to you that this show is the number one ranked show in all of our nation according to last year's data. Now, it follows Kevin and Kate and Randall who are all siblings, twins of sorts and then their parents, and it's a really interesting show in terms of kind of the emotional complexity of the show.

It's also really interesting because of the structural complexity of the show because it's really done something that not too many television shows before, maybe none have done and that it lives in three tenses at the same time. Present, past and future, kind of all at the same time are happening and if you're not paying attention like if you just jump in to that show in season whatever, in the middle of something, you would just go, I don't know what's happening right now, because it's that, right? I'm not going to give anything away but part of what I was thinking about is what has made this show so attractive that it is the number one watched television show in our American culture, like literally number one, in terms of series, TV series.

I thought about it for a little while and I'm not sure this is the singular reason that it's the most popular I'm sure because these people are really talented actors and there's really talented writers and it's a really interesting concept, I'm sure all of that plays into it but I think that the secret is actually found in the title itself. This is what, us. The title of the show is not this is me. It's This Is Us. The reason that I think that that is such a significant thing is because the culture that we live in is finding out the cost of what it has meant to live radically individualized lives. Now, inside of us, all of us that have lived radically individualized lives, who can get what we want, when we want it, watch what we want, when we want it, tell everybody what we want to do, don't do what we don't want to do.

Not really concerning ourselves. We can get on social media, we can post whatever we want to post. We can comment, whatever we want to comment. We can do all of this stuff and it's become like this radically individualized way of living and as a result what happens is now, we're finding inside of us culturally that there is this longing to actually be connected to more than just us, that we think to ourselves there has to be more than just the sum total of my individual whims and my individual freedoms. In fact, in the culture that we live in, the more free we are to do whatever we want whenever we want to do it, the more lonely we actually become.

It's wild, like we're waking up to that in our culture and if you don't think that that's true, what we see actually in our culture, even in the newspapers that are out, I'm talking about big scale newspapers, they are reporting recent history, reporting over and over again about how loneliness is overtaking us as a culture. I'll give you a sample, here's something for you to pay attention to. The Washington Post run a story called Surgeon General says, there's a loneliness epidemic. USA Today, young people report more loneliness than the elderly, did you catch that? Young people are more lonely than the elderly.

The Boston Globe said the biggest threat facing middle aged men isn't smoking or obesity, it's loneliness. Look at what the New York Times wrote, they did a story called the surprising effects of loneliness on health. The Atlantic ran a story, loneliness begets more loneliness. The New York Times, another story, how social isolation is killing us and then in slate, social isolation kills more people than obesity. This is just a survey of a bunch of highly read papers and they're all talking about something similar and that is where our isolation has led us. There's an author named, Jonathan Haidt and he wrote a book called the Happiness Hypothesis. I don't know anything about his particular background or spiritual background or faith background.

What he did is he kind of wanted to measure scientifically some of the faith propositions and philosophical propositions of variety of different kind of ancient faith systems and philosophies. What he ended up saying without coming to any of his big time conclusions is that he said here's what one thing that I can tell you. He said that we are an ultra social being as human beings. We are ultra social. He didn't mean that in a sense that everybody wants to be at parties and everybody has to have people around them all the time but he was just talking about the core of who people are, that we are ultra social beings.

He said, strong social relationships, he actually measured this scientifically, strengthen the immune system, that's one of the things that he said, extends your life better than quitting smoking does. Well, that's strong. He said, it also does a number of other different things like it speeds the recovery from surgery. It reduces the risk of anxiety and depression disorders. He talked about all of that in his book. Now, I say that to say this, that loneliness or isolation is not good for us and people know this intuitively. They really understand this kind of insight, it's the reason why people are watching shows like This Is Us, because it connects them to something bigger.

It's the reason why in our day and age, people are constantly going on to or 23andMe, because here's what they want to know, here's what they want to feel. They want to feel like and maybe you feel this way, you want to feel like you're a somebody connected to other somebody's. You actually want to feel like your life matters. You don't want to feel alone. You don't want to feel like your life doesn't matter and doesn't have value. You want this to be bigger than just you. Now, have you ever thought about the fact that maybe we are actually made this way? This is the way we've actually been created and that that's what causing this longing inside of us.

I think to be honest with you, if you took any people group ... this isn't science, this is Jerry, so you have to be able to distinguish between the two. If you were to take any people group, anywhere in the world, and you were to take that people group out of their place, where they live and place them into the context of the United States of America, I don't think it would take more than one full generation for them to start feeling the pangs of loneliness. For them to feel the pangs of isolation. For them to feel the pangs of disconnectivity. There's a reason for that, because the culture that we live in has literally poured gas and lit a flame on exposing all of that about our lives.

With all the freedom that we have to do everything we want to do, when we want to do it, we now feel more lonely, more disconnected and more like we're not connected to something bigger than us. That is a difficult place to be in the culture that we live in but the truth is, is that I think what people would feel, even if you move them from another part of the world to here, is it this is actually a human condition, because it helps us to understand, this is part of the way that we have actually been made. Now, for us to understand this is a human conditions means that we need to go back to the beginning of the human story, because for us to understand the human story is to start to begin to understand the nature of us.

Now, there's some people by the way, that have done that. They struggled with isolation or they struggled with not feeling connected, they struggled of not feeling like their life has any significance or dignity or matters and they said, you know what, I'm going to go back to the beginning of the human story to figure out if this is something that can help me and they've done that. They feel worse, because what they did is they went back to a human story that in the world view that they had created, was a story that says, that we are all here randomly. That we got here through a random process and as a result of that random process now, what I am, the sum total of me is a collision of atoms and/or I am molecules in motion and everything else around me is also just molecules in motion.

Now, they think to themselves, does that give me any inherent dignity? Does that give me any inherent worth? Well, it only gives the amount of worth that someone else ascribes to you so if they say it does, then it does and if they say it doesn't, then it doesn't but they have actually no substantial foundation upon which to build their argument because it's all based upon them. You see, that's what happens when we go back to the beginning of the story and we think that the story is just molecules in motion and random chance. You see, I'm here to tell you that we've got a better story than that.

It's a Christian story and it's a story about a God who is transcendent. Who actually is the uncaused cause of everything that has been made, that nothing has ever happened before God because God is before all things. What He has done out of the beauty of His mind and the goodness of his heart is he has created every thing that exist in the cosmos including human beings. You see, this is a big story for us because in the Christian story what we need to do to maybe understand the beginning of us is to be able to go back to that story and understand some things about us, that are important because I think and you may not believe this from the very beginning, like when I start, what I'm about to talk about, you may not believe me.

I promise you, I think you're going to go out of here, encouraged and we're going to breathe life into you, that's my goal, that you're encouraged and that life gets breathed in to you today and you may think from the beginning, I'm not so sure about that. Here's what I want you to do, I want you to go back with me to the very beginning of the story. Now, some of you, because like, fall has basically started and school is back in and life has happened. Some people have decided, hey you know what, it's kind of a new start for us, we're going to go to church and maybe you're here for the first time or the first time in a long time.

Maybe you're coming to check out what faith is like and what church is like and all that kind of stuff and we're super glad that you're here. Now, what you're going to find me doing in just a moment is I'm going to open a bible and I'm going to teach from it because this isn't just life lessons with Jerry. You might want those and if you do, just let me know. You can email me and you'll get a stupid reply back is what you'll get, right? I actually want to talk about what our story is and we have a text to be able to describe that and so for those of you that are maybe new, we put bibles in front of you here or maybe on tables, depending on what campus that you're on.

If you want to grab one or if you want to pull up a device, I'm going to make it super simple for you, go to page one. All right. That's as easy as I can make it. I'm actually not going to be on page one, I'm probably going to be on page two or three but nonetheless, go to the very beginning. It's a book called Genesis. Now, the book Genesis means beginnings, that's what the word means. The Genesis of something is the beginning of something and I want you to look at actually the beginnings of us and we're going to begin looking at that in Genesis chapter two, beginning in verse number four. I want you to pay attention to what it says.

It says, "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Now, some of you are going to like this, all right, Jerry, I tried that kind of we're random molecules in motion and it didn't really helped me.

I wasn't really sure what to make of that, it didn't feel like it gave me any sense of identity. It didn't give me any sense of connection, it didn't really helped me understand like what my life is about and what my purpose is and all that kind of stuff. I tried that, it didn't work. Now, you're telling me, you've got a much better story and the much better story is the story ... the Christian story. What you just did is you took me back to the beginning of the Christian story and here's what you told me, that the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground. I want to make sure that I understand.

This first plan that I had didn't worked for me and now you're telling me your story is much better and it's about me being dust? Help me with that. I understand and here's what I want to do, I want us to help us understand what that's actually referring to, that the Lord God made man from the dust of the ground. Now, let's put aside the fact that this could be talking about some material aspect of how we've been created, all right. That could be the case. In fact, it's interesting although it's also complex because there are other Hebrew terms that if you didn't want to use the word dust, if you ever tried to take dust and form it in anything, it doesn't really work real well, right?

Now, there are other words that could have been chosen in Hebrew like for the word, clay which could be moldable and those kinds of things but nonetheless, it's made from the dust of the ground. We could also talk about what scientist say and what scientist ... I'm talking about secular science, right? Scientist that are not believing in Jesus kinds of people. They talk about us being kind of composed of dirt but they talk more about star dirt or star dust than they do about earth dust but nonetheless, they talk about how basically the building blocks of life, if you were calling them out, it would be carbon, hydrogen ... hold, stay with me.

Carbon, hydrogen, I'm terrible at science, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulfur. There they are right there. Get some of that. I'm available for tutoring, whatever you need, all right? It's going to have to be second grade and lower, is where I'm going to be my best self, all right. Those building blocks, interestingly enough, 97% ... there's kind of like 97% match between what we're made up of and what the galaxy itself is made up of, which is kind of interesting to note but putting aside right now, talking about the material beginning of human beings, this is talking about much, much more than that. To reduce this, to talking about somehow just the material beginning of humanity, is an offense to the text and I'm going to show you that.

Because this text is actually talking to us about significantly more than that. You see dust in the ancient culture when you start reading ancient Hebrew, whether you're reading in the bible or outside of the bible in ancient Hebrew culture, you find that the idea of dust of the ground or dust itself is really commensurate with the idea of mortality or decay or death or frailty, something along that line. Of course when the bible says that man was made from the dust of the ground, we're going to find out just a little bit from now that also the animals were made from the dust of the ground, that they were made from the ground as well.

You kind of go, well, doesn't that say that we're just all the same then? No, we're going to see something different than that in just a minute. You see, the idea of being creative from the dust of the ground is less about our material composition and it's much more about our identity. You see our identity is, is that we ... in the very beginning of us, this man was formed from ... as the scripture says, from the dust of the ground. Now, this is obviously referring to the idea of frailty and potentially death. In fact, after the fall of humanity into sin, right, after the creation of Adam and then ultimately, the creation of Eve.

Their willingness to kind of abandon dependence upon God for their own independence and their ... kind of the beginning of sin in the human line, God actually said something to Adam about this and used this phrase again and used it in a way to show what was going to happen to Adam. Notice what it says in Genesis three, you can actually flip a page if you want. Genesis three says, by the sweat of your brow ... this is the Lord God talking to Adam. "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." You see the idea here is about ultimately death, ultimately frailty, ultimately this kind of temporary nature of Adam's life.

Now, some might argue and this is fine, we can talk about this in a different time, in a different setting theologically. Some will argue, well, that's not what applied to Adam because Adam was created immortal. I disagree. Why was there a tree of life? The reason there was a tree of life was not because Adam was created immortal but because Adam had the capacity to live forever based upon his engagement with the tree of life. Those are two different things, having the capacity. Augustine in the city of God, actually described it, where he talked about Adam, kind of the initial existence of Adam was created to have the capacity not to die.

Then, after the fall, human beings did not have the capacity not to die and then ultimately after consummation, when Jesus comes and changes everything and we're in the eternal state, we do not have the capacity to die at that point. He talked about these three stages, right? Be that as it may and putting that aide for a second, the psalmist actually agrees that all of us are dust and is talking about our frailty and the temporary nature of our life and our capacity to die. Now, and I'm going deep for a second, just stay with me, all right. I'm going somewhere. Think about it this way, Adam was created from the dust to the ground, Eve was created from the side of Adam but everybody after them was created by them.

They were born of women, right? You and I, everybody in this room, none of us were created from the dust of the ground. We were all created by moms and dads, right? I'm pretty sure that I can go on record of saying that and feel a high degree of confidence, that I'm not going to say anything stupid, all right? The truth is when we look at it, if we're looking at it just in terms of material origins, how could we all be of the dust, if we're just talking about material origins but that's exactly what the psalmist says. Psalm 103, "For God knows how we are formed, he remembers that we ... that's present tense, we are all dust."

The psalmist actually refers to all of us as being of the dust, why, because we are a people who is a created people but we are a people who don't have the capacity to live forever on our own, that there's a shelf life, there's a temporary nature to it. Now, that's the first piece but the second piece when we look at the story, the beginning of us is not just that we've been created from the dust of the ground or that we are people of the dust, right, that can die, that have a temporary existence but we also learned something else about us. You see after God had created humanity and created the garden and created the headwaters of a river that flowed from the garden that spread out into other rivers, four of them.

Then notice what the scripture says in Genesis two verse 18. The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky." Did you catch that? He formed them out of the ground. "And He brought them to the man to see what he would name them and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name." The man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals but for Adam no suitable helper or counterpart was found so the Lord God calls the man to fall into a deep sleep and while he was sleeping he took one of the man's ribs or it talks about the side.

Then closed up the place with flesh and then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man and he brought her to the man. Now, there's a lot going on here and it's extraordinary to understand the beginning of our story, because not only what we created front the dust of the ground but so too were the animals but there was a distinction between the nature of those two things, the animals and Adam. See, because what God said is this, is that Adam, it's not good that you are alone. Wait a minute, Adam, he wasn't alone, he was surrounded by all the animals. He was surrounded by all the plants, he was surrounded by the sun, the moon, the stars, all of that was there how could he be said to be alone?

Because there was no one ... listen to this, there was no completion for him in terms of identity. Think of it this way, when you read the creation narrative, here's what you see, God creates the heavens and do you know how he completes the heavens, with the sun, the moon and the stars. God creates the sea and do you know how he completes the sea, with fish and all that goes in there. Sea creatures, Loch Ness monster, all those things right? Then, God creates the earth and how does God complete it, with animals and with plants but he says that Adam is alone. He doesn't have a completion. The animals can't meet that, the plants can't meet that, the rivers and the fish can't meet that.

The sun, the moon and the stars can't meet that, why, because there is no one with like identity that has been created like him and so God says this, it's not good that he is alone. He forms from Adam a woman and that's what Adam called her, woman, right? It sort of sounded like man, except he went, "Whoa." I'm just saying, I wasn't there. I don't know for sure. It seems reasonable but now he's realizing, he's recognizing sameness but difference and now he has a counter-partner, that's a compound word that's made up, that really represents more the Hebrew word there of suitable helper, a counter-partner that is like him.

Even though this passage of scripture about Adam and Eve and their formation is predominantly I think about marriage and the reason that I think that is because when you read all of the New Testament writers that actually reflect back on this, they're reflecting back on marriage but there is a secondary understanding there that we can grab hold of and it's just simply this, humans weren't made to be alone. Humans weren't made to be alone. When we feel that vacuum, there's a reason for it because there's a divine design around the idea of how we've been made. The story begins by telling us, that we've talked about, the story begins by helping us understand we're from the dust of the ground, in other words, there's a temporary nature to us.

That we are destined to die. We're also told that it's good that we're not alone and that's a wonderful thing but there's something bigger than all of that, that I want us to see, that if you miss, you have missed it all and it's what is said in Genesis chapter one, if you back up just a shade in verse number 27. It says this, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them." Now, some Hebrew scholars would tell you that the phrase in the image of God could be just as easily translated as the image of God. The reason for that is because when we talk about the idea of the image of God ladies and gentlemen, we're not talking about physical likeness.

That we have been created in the physical likeness. I'm what God looks like, that's not what's being said here. The idea here about image of God is really twofold. It's about the capacity for relationship which means human beings have a special capacity for relationship with God that animals don't have, that the plant world doesn't have, that the fish don't have, that the sun, moon and stars don't have, that human beings have a capacity for relationship with God and special relationship with other image bearers and that human beings are supposed to be representatives of God. This is what it meant in the ancient world to be in the image of a king.

If someone was standing in the image of a king, it was representing kind of the presence of the king there and was carrying out whatever he was supposed to do or she was supposed to do as their representative. You see, ladies and gentlemen, there's a reason by the way that when the people of God were, constituted Israel, and God on the top of Mount Sinai was giving instruction to Moses and he wrote them down with his own finger on tablets of stone called the 10 ... Right, When you do that, it's so simple, right? I wanted to make sure you guys were one for one on your pop quiz at church today.

The 10 Commandments right? There's a reason the second commandment exist. No images. You know why, they already existed. Human beings. They were already image bearers all over the world, not to be worshiped but to represent the God that had made them. You see, this is in part what it means to be created in the image of God. When we see this, it makes us understand something. Listen to this, every human being is created in the image of God. This is our story. This is the beginning of us. Every human being is created in the image of God. I'm going to come back to that but I need to make sure that I landed that as clearly as I could.

What have we learned from our story so far? What if we were typing into our, what would it actually push out to tell us. Maybe write this down, we are more than what we are made from. We are more than what we are made from. That's one way for you to look at the beginning of our story. We're more than what we are made from. Are we frail? Yes. Are we mortal? Yes but that's not all we are. We are endowed with God's own image, do you know what that means ladies and gentlemen, that confers upon human beings, value and purpose. Do you know what it also does, it builds this connection.

It says, listen to this, every person on the sound of my voice, you are a somebody that is connected to other somebody's. That's what this says when we understand what it means to be created in the image of God. You see getting this right ladies and gentlemen is so important for us. Letting this settle in on our hearts is so important for us because if we don't confer dignity on every person as an image bearer of God, what it amounts to is broken relationships and broken societies. You see we've got a better way here in our story when we begin to get back to it. If we believe that people are more than what they're made from, more ... listen, more than their background, they are more than their ethnicity, they are more than the sum total of their successes or their failures when we begin to understand these things it becomes a game changer because it affects our treatment of everyone.

When we understand our story, it changes the way we treat everyone. It changes the way that we treat the sick. It changes the way that we treat the disabled. It changes the way that we treat the unborn. It changes the way that we treat the defenseless. It changes the way that we treat the poverty-stricken or the marginalized. It changes all of that, why, because every human being is an image bearer and when we allow that to settle in on our hearts, it changes things. That's why our story is so much more beautiful. That's why our story is so much better because it's a story that is coming from God. Now, there's personal implications to this, right? There's us implications but there's personal implications as well.

Here's what this means, listen, because you are made in the image of God, I want everybody to hear this. You're made in the image of God. Do you know what that means? You have inherent value. Your life, your individual life, sir, ma'am, young person, every single one of you, your life matters. Your life has purpose and do you know why that's even more powerful, in this setting, than it is in our cultural setting, because in our cultural setting, you have nothing substantive upon which to build that argument but in our setting, because we are a people who believe the Christian story, who believe the story of God and what he's done, we actually are saying, because God has put his image upon us, it confers dignity because God is worthy.

It confers value because God is valuable. It confers purpose because God has a reason for all that he does. Your life sir, ma'am, young person, your life it matters. Your life has value. Your life has inherent dignity. Your life has purpose. Your life has meaning. That is the divine design. Now, some of you are saying, okay, I hear you but what I struggle with is, is that my life is not exactly what it should be. Stand in line. Take a ticket. Whose life is what it should be? None of us are finished products at this point. Here's what you're saying without saying it, my life has been ... the image of God in me has been smudged and maybe has even began to decompose a bit because of sin, no doubt, that's true. That's 100% true.

The decomposition of the image of God in us does happen because of sin. It is continuing to erode that in our lives and left undealt with, it continues to erode in such a way that we become eventually ... even if it's not in this life but maybe in the life to come eventually because of our rejection of God and what he desires to do, we've allowed that image to be decompositioned to such a point that we become subhuman rather than truly human, which is not what God's desire is for our lives. He doesn't want that happening to us. Even though our image though is marred by sin, it still matters to God. I know this from the book of Genesis even. I can just take you to the book of Genesis and show you this.

You see there was a time after the fall, right, after Cain killed Abel, after everybody got violent, after things were going crazy because sin entered the world. Do you know that God still establish the fact that he cared deeply about the image of God in human beings? He still said these matters, even though it's smudged, even though it's a mess, it still matters. Listen to what he says in Genesis nine, he said, "From each human being too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. Whoever sheds human blood by human shall their blood be shed, here's why, for in the image of God, has God made mankind." God was saying, this is so important to me. You're getting violent and I'm going to hold you accountable for this because these are people made in my image.

They have a special capacity for potential relationship with me. They have a special capacity to be designed to be in relationship with one another. They are destined if they truly are made new to be my representatives in the world. God says, don't defile that, I want you to embrace that. You see this smudging of the image of God in our lives is why the Gospel is such good news to us. You see the gospel is this, that we are sinful. We have ... listen, we have this decomposition of the image of God happening in our hearts and in our lives so what God has done since we could never rescue that, since we could never stem-the-tide of the decomposition or the deterioration of the image of God in our lives, we could never do it and we were hopeless.

We were in a state of decomposition but while in that state, God saw it, God knew it and God said I will make this solution. I will give this remedy and so God put skin on in the person of Jesus who was born of a virgin, who lived a sinless life, who went to a cross and died and who rose from the grave, listen to this, as the very image of God. You see, this is how Paul said it. Paul said in Colossians one, "The son is the image of the invisible God. The son is the image of the invisible God." What is that saying to us, what does that remind us of? It says this, that what Jesus has done through his death on a cross taking upon himself the sins of humanity, that God in his holy and just wrath had to pour out his wrath upon.

He will not wink at sin because sin is everything that is set up to oppose who God is and what God does. God will judge sin and in Jesus, the sins of humanity are poured upon him, why, because he is perfect. He is acceptable. He is the express image of God and he's the only one who could bear it and it's poured upon him. He dies and God demonstrates that his sacrifice was enough, that he in fact was perfect, that his sacrifice was satisfactory and that he is the express image of God because he didn't leave the body behind. He got him up from the dead on day three and we now see the fact that God has made a remedy for us, listen to this, by faith in Jesus Christ, we can now have the image of God remade in us.

This is the beauty of the gospel, that we can now ... listen, because of Jesus, we can be in relationship, special relationship to God and right relationship with other people and because of Jesus' life in us, we can be his representatives in the world that we live in. You see, there is a remaking of the image of God. There is a remolding of the image of God that has been smudged and broken and deteriorated but in Jesus, he is remaking that, why, because listen, when Jesus takes up residence in us, the image of God now lives in us. In its beautiful fullness and it begins to take over the parts of our lives that are broken and are not magnifying the glory of the image of God and instead Jesus is getting a hold of those and he's reshaping them and he's changing them.

We who were people of the dust can now be like the person of Jesus, because this is what God desires. In fact, that's what Paul said. Listen to what he said in First Corinthians 15, Our bodies are sown a natural body but raised a spiritual body. If there's a natural body, there's also a spiritual body thus it's written, the first man, Adam became a living being, we just read that. The last Adam, Jesus, became a living a ... life giving spirit but it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust. The second man, Jesus is from heaven, as was the man of dust, Adam, so also are those who are of the dust, all of us and as is the man of heaven, Jesus, so also are those who are of heaven, those who put their faith in him.

Just as we have born the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. This is the great news that the gospel makes us whole. We can be renewed. The image of God can be renewed in us. In fact, Paul said this in Colossians. He said, do not lie to each other since you've taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator. We can have ... listen to this, the image of God can be renewed in us because we have put on the new in putting our faith in Jesus. This is a beautiful truth, that's why what I said a little bit ago, that we are more than what we're made from.

I want you to put a coma after that and I want you to add a small phrase. We are more than what we are made from, and the hope of being more is found in Jesus. That's where the hope is. It's found in Jesus. The only way that we can see this become a reality is in and through Jesus. Now listen, I know you're jotting things down but I want you to listen carefully because I'm going to wrap this up, I want to land this plane, I want you to listen. This is why believers, more than anyone in the world should take God seriously that he cares about the image of God in every single human being. More than anybody in the world, believers in Jesus ought to take this seriously, why? Here's why, because ... listen, because how we treat people demonstrates what we think about God.

I Amen to myself. Occasionally you say something and you just got to Amen yourself. How we treat people gives away what we actually think about God, because if we know our story, we know that every person that we deal with, they are more than what they're made from and we also know that even though they may not be in a place where they have ... their life has been transformed, what our hope is, is our hope is we know that that is only in Jesus, that their lives can be remade, because this is the way that God has structured the world. How we treat people matters because it gives away what we think about God.

In fact, Jesus' half brother James, he said it. He said with a tongue, we praise our Lord and Father and with it, we curse human beings who have been made in God's likeness. Made in God's image and he goes on to say, this should not be my brothers and sisters. This should not be. You see, James just gets that from Jesus, doesn't he? Jesus said, I can sum up the whole of the Old Testament, here it is. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Of course, they went on to say, well, who's my neighbor. Jesus said, everyone, that's a summary but that's what he was saying.

Everyone, not just the person you share a fence with on your right or your left, at your home or the person that's in the apartment next to you, on this side or that side. That's not what he says. That's your neighbor. He says, everyone is your neighbor. Love God. Love them all. That's what he says. That's the great commandment. James says, why then should our mouths be full of cursing to people that have been made in God's own image? You're giving away, that you don't care that much, that God carefully made his image in them. This is important for us to get now. Listen, we need this word in our culture as badly as any word that I can think about. We need this word today.

This is what I'm talking about today. We need it in our culture, here's why, because what our culture is doing to us and sometimes, those of us in the believing community are playing along. You are a willing participant in what our culture is trying to do because what our culture is trying to do is to get us to divide, to demonize and dehumanize people. This is what's happening in our culture. You know how it goes. If you voted for Trump, you should go to hell. If you didn't vote for Trump, you should go to hell. If you're a Republican, you're going to bust hell wide open. If you're a Democrat, you're Godless and you're going to bust hell wide open.

I hate illegal immigrants. I hate people that hate illegal immigrants. This is what our culture does to us and we play along. You know why, we've forgotten our story. We just lost sense of our story. We, ladies and gentlemen are more than what we are made from and every single person should be conferred the dignity and the value of an image bearer of God. It doesn't mean that we can't argue against injustice, it doesn't mean that we can't have arguments over policy. We can do all of those things without demonizing, without dehumanizing.

That's what the people of God need to be able to do, without dehumanizing, without demonizing, why, because these are the people on the other end of our argument, whether it's on a computer screen or whether it's face to face and it's usually not face to face because we're too cowardly to do that but we'll do it over a computer screen, right, because we don't even know how to handle ourselves and people that disagree with us and sometimes believers are the worst. These are people made in the image of God and we have to treat them that way, we have to handle it that way. By the way, it's not just about tolerating them, it's actually about loving them.

Jesus didn't say, love God, tolerate everybody else. He said, love God, love people, love them. Sometimes, do they get on your nerves, maybe yours not mine. Never, no one has ever been on my nerves. Yeah. Sure, but we got to figure out what love looks like. We got to figure out that we believe actually the beginning of our story, because every person you talk to, they're made in the image of God. You guys know I'm a big C.S. Lewis fan. You know, you just know, right? I mean, I've been to his house, literally, I've been to his house in Oxford. I've been to his grave. I took a picture of it. I didn't lay on it and try and get some of the juice or whatever, right? I mean, it's ridiculous. There's people that do that. I'm going to lay on the grave and get some of the ... stop, just stop. It's so crazy. Just stop it. I took a picture of it.

I went to his church where he worshiped, I went in there, it was dark. I have my buddy Jordan Stinziano with me. It was kind of dark in there. I was like, dude, he worshiped in this church right here. It wasn't that big, right, and I said, you know what, I know that there was actually a seat that he sat in every single Sunday and I'm actually not going to leave until I find it. Jordan is like, we will not be here all night. I said, it doesn't matter. I love the man and I'm going to sit in his seat and you're going to take my picture. That's what's going to happen. He realized I was serious so he started helping me, look. I finally found his little name plate, this is where C.S. Lewis sat and I was like, boom. I sat down. I took a picture, I'm like, what is up? I'm sitting in his seat right?

I love the man. He wrote a book called the Weight of Glory and in it, he said something that was so rich with theology, the theology of what we're talking about today. It was so rich that I wanted to share it with you. Listen to what he said. He said, it is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, lower case of course, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship or conversely, he says, there would be a horror and a corruption such as you now meet if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long, we are in some degree helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities.

It is with all and circumspection proper to them that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Do you know where that come from, where that comes from is a rich philosophy of the beginning of us in the Christian story. What if we got that? What if the people of God actually got that? That we are one race of people, the human one. We are beautifully diverse in the context of that human one but we have a human story, that we are all mortal but we are not mere mortals. That we all have value, that we all have dignity, that we all are not meant to be alone and that we all have hope, why?

Because we are more than what we're made from and the hope of being more is found in Jesus. May we be the kind of people that conduct all of our relationships and all of our politics and all of our lives with a view toward the beginning of our own story, that we're all more than what we're made from and that the hope of being more is actually found in Jesus who can recover the smudged up broken image of God that is in our lives and give us a special relationship with God and a right relationship with people. Let's bow our heads together. We'll dismiss in just a second and if you're here and you've never before entrusted your life to Christ, you've never said no to your sin and said yes to Jesus, God wants you to be in relationship with him, that's why He made you. It was your destiny.

That's what he longs to see in you. My prayer for you is if, when we dismiss in just a moment, that you let one of our pastors, one of our other friends here at the chapel be able to take a moment and just talk to you about that, that relationship with God. There's nothing more important. Every human being is going to walk into eternity, either an eternity with Jesus which is what God's desire is or an eternity separated from him which is not what his heart desires but that he loves you enough to give you what you want when you decide that you don't want him. If you've never before settled that issue in your heart, then when we dismiss in just a moment, I'll ask to come by the far side room.

It's clearly marked out here in the atrium. We love for you to be able to talk with somebody. If you're listening by way of radio, maybe you could email us or you could call the church, we'd love to talk to you about what a relationship with Jesus actually looks like. Father, I pray that your word would speak deeply into our hearts and lives because sometimes we just need to be reminded of our own story. That we have a better story than what the world tells. We're not just a bunch of molecules in motion. That there was purpose and intention and value and dignity conferred upon us when we were made and as a result of being in that line, a line of people who are made in the image of God, that not only does our life matter but every life matters.

God, I pray that we would live our lives in such a way that all the world would see that, because no one more than us, the believing community, the followers of Jesus should emulate that and should demonstrate that to the world that we live in. May the world around us have a sense from us, that their life matters, that we speak to them with dignity, that we don't dehumanize them but that we always point them to the truth, that their life can only be recovered in Jesus, because Jesus you are the way and the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through you. Would you help us to be that kind of people who would demonstrate that our lives are being made new in the image of the son of God and that the world could know the Father through the son.

Help us to know our own story and to be reminded of that daily, not only in how we view our life and the darkest moment of our life but how we view others around us. We trust you by your spirit to write this on our hearts, so that it may glorify your name above all things and we pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

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The Beginning Of Us

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The History Of Us

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 2 - Sep 22, 2019

The Power Of Us

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 3 - Sep 29, 2019

The Nature of Us

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 4 - Oct 6, 2019

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