For Goodness’ Sake

Read: Genesis 1

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31, NRSV).

“How many times do I have to tell you….?”

Most of us have been on the receiving end of this rhetorical question. It doesn’t really require an answer, and if we gave one, we would be in even more trouble.

God must have considerable sympathy for exasperated parents who ask this question. After all, God tells us not once, not twice, but seven times in Genesis 1 that creation is good. But evidently, seven times is not enough, because we still need reminding.

In the introductory class that I teach on the Old Testament, we take extra time with the book of Genesis. “Well begun is half done,” I tell my seminarians. There are things in this book that are simply worth taking extra time over or the results can be disastrous. It’s a bit like taking extra time when planning a trip. If you’re not careful you may end up somewhere you do not want to go. Hawaii and Hoboken both start with “H,” but they are very different places.

So, what are the risks of ignoring God’s repeated reminder that creation is good?

Have you ever encountered Christians who cared more about saving “souls” than saving lives? Never mind that you are starving; here’s a Bible.

Have you noticed how easy it is to treat living things as commodities? Why shouldn’t we cut down the rain forests? They’re just trees, for goodness’ sake.

Have you ever been taught that the body is bad and the spirit is good? And we wonder why we’re confused about sex?

These are just a few examples of how we can end up somewhere we don’t want to go by not taking God seriously with regard to the goodness of creation. In the next few installments of this “Double Takes” series, we will take a closer look at some other examples.

For now, however, maybe it’s enough just to hear God asking, “How many times do I have to tell you…?”

Don’t answer that, or you’ll be in even more trouble.

Ponder: Have you ever been taught that the body is bad and the spirit is good? How is that working for you?

Pray: For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies; Lord of all, to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.

From the hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth”; text by Folliott S. Pierpoint (1835-1917).