Genesis 1:26-31 (The Holy Trinity—Series A)
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT
June 19, 2011
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text is from the Old Testament reading from Genesis 1:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The Old Testament lesson for Holy Trinity Sunday is the Biblical account of how the Triune God created the heavens and the earth. All three persons of the God-head were involved in this act of “creation out of nothing.” The Triune God is the Creator of all that exists, things visible and invisible. This means that, if everything is God’s creation, it belongs to Him. We belong to Him and God Himself entrusts us with His creation.
We are God’s creation. On the sixth day, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” Then we are told that “God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” God would continue His work of creation through the procreation of Adam and Eve and their children and their children’s children. In that way, then, we are truly God’s creation. God’s Word tells us in Isaiah 64, “O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8) The Psalmist rejoices in Psalm 139, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14a) The New Testament assures us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
We are our Triune God’s creation. He is our good and gracious Creator. This is what we admit when we confess in the Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” We believe, according to the Word of God, that God Himself as made us and all creatures. He has given us our body and soul, eyes, ears, and all our members, our reason and all our senses, and still takes care of them. God also gives us clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children, land, animals, and all that we have. (SC, Explanation to the First Article)
So if God is the Creator of everything, including you and me, then everything, including you and me, belongs to God. As Christians, we acknowledge that everything belongs to God: food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, good, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, and things like these. Yet don’t we go about life saying, “This is my house. This is my car. This is my money. These are my toys?” Are they really ours? Are we the owners? Not according to the Bible. It’s God’s creation. It belongs to Him just as you and I belong to Him.
Creation belongs to God, but He put us in charge of His creation to insure proper use of His gifts. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them . . . , “have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
(Genesis 1:27-29) To realize that God shares His created goodness with us is mind-boggling, especially considering what we end up doing with God’s creation.
Before the fall of humanity into sin, Adam and Eve knew perfectly how to take care of God’s good creation. They were able to act exactly as their Creator would act. They were able to respond to the opportunities of life as He would respond. Adam and Eve could handle life’s treasures and talents as God would handle them. But with the fall into sin, all that changed. It is still God’s creation. It belongs to Him just as you and I still belong to Him. But you and I run into problems when we believe and act otherwise.
Bon Jovi has a song called “It’s My Life.” The chorus says: “It’s my life. It’s now or never. I ain’t gonna live forever. I just want to live while I’m alive. My heart is like an open highway. Like Frankie said I did it my way. I just wanna live while I’m alive. It’s my life.” Many times you and I live as if that were the case. We end up telling God by our actions and attitude, “It’s my life. I can do with it as I please. It’s my life to live to the fullest. It’s my life full of my stuff, my time, my money.” Or, as Billy Joel sang, “I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life. Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone.”
We are tempted to believe and live as if nothing belongs to God, but that everything belongs to us, or at the very least, is at our disposal. Rather than being God’s caretakers of all parts of creation, including other people, we act like we are the owners of what is not rightfully ours to be owners of. It is not my money any more than it is your money. It belongs to God. It’s not my time any more than it is your time. It belongs to God. It’s not my house, my car, my computer any more than it is your house, car, or computer. They are God’s. They belong to Him. That’s a very hard concept for 21st century Americans to grasp. Yet, it is reality.
The one Triune God made the world and everything it. He alone is the Creator, Owner, and Lord of everything. From creation God planned that people should enjoy His gifts, but under certain conditions. While God placed people in dominion over His creation, He gave the parameters of responsibility and care. We are not the owners! We are the caretakers and managers called to act as God would act in His care for you, me, and all creation.
But how can we do this as sinners who are so bent on thinking that we own God’s things so that we live life as if the things of creation belong to us? How can we be God’s responsible caretakers and managers, acting as He would act in the care of God’s creation? The answer is tied up in the words of Genesis 1, “And God blessed them.” As Adam and Eve before the Fall were blessed by God to take care of His newly created world, so are you and I blessed by the very same God so that we might responsibly use His gifts in our day. And the number one blessing of God that enables us to be responsible caretakers of His creation is the forgiveness of sins.
The uncreated Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, entered into His created world as a full human being. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus entered His fallen creation in order to buy it back from the power of sin, Satan, and death. Christ came to reclaim His fallen creation and to restore it through the forgiveness of sins. In His sinless life, Jesus was the perfect manager of God’s creation. He properly exercised dominion over God’s world and rightfully used all of God’s gifts as our substitute so that we might receive the credit for doing what we, as sinners by nature, are unable to do. Then our Lord Jesus went to cross to pay for all our sins, including our sins of misusing the dominion over creation that God has given us. Jesus died on the cross, shedding His blood to cover over our sins of greed and selfishness in thinking that we are owners rather than God’s caretakers. Jesus died to win our forgiveness for every sin of irresponsibility in taking care of the things God has given to us: spouse, children, money, house, car, job, food, clothes, time, and talent.
Now that you and I stand forgiven in the blood of Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit has recreated us to be God’s responsible and rightful managers of what belongs to Him. By the working of the Holy Spirit through God’s Word and Sacrament, we are led to believe that God is truly the owner and to relinquish the mentality among us that we are the owners. Because we belong to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, we now more correctly see all time, talent, treasure, and things as His. We see ourselves as His caretakers and managers. This frees us for greater service to our Lord and other people as we are able to insure the proper use of God’s good and many gifts. Because you and I are new creations in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, you and I are able to act as our Creator would act—with self-sacrificing love and joy as we use the gifts God has placed in our life to His glory and for the benefit of other people first. We are able to respond to the opportunities of life as God would respond because the Holy Spirit dwells in us as His temple, leading and guiding us through the Holy Word to live God-pleasing lives in what we say and do. And we are also able to handle life’s treasures and talents as God would handle them, again using them first and foremost to give glory to God and to help our neighbor.
You and I are not only the Triune God’s creations, but we are now His new creations through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. As His redeemed and forgiven people, God continues to entrust us with His creation. The Holy Spirit has empowered a change in our attitudes about God’s creation from one of “This is mine,” to one of “This is God’s and He wants me to use this to bring glory to Him and to benefit other people.” In the power of that same Spirit, be God’s responsible caretakers of the life and of life’s things that He has given you to use as He would use them. Amen