Closing Prayer: Father, You have given us so much to be grateful for. Teach us to understand and appreciate these gifts, we pray in the name of our Lord, Jesus. Amen.
Part One: The Foundations"So God created man in his own image. In the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:27
Opening Prayer: Lord, I know that You want me to be in a right relationship with You and with my fellow pilgrims here on earth. Youíll need to help me with this one: itís a difficult challenge.
Letís begin with Genesis Chapter One, vv26-27:And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in his own image. In the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
What pattern did God use to make man?
In their image.
It doesnít say.
What aspects of us were created in their image?
It doesnít say that either.
What can we learn about God from looking at these verses in context?
God is relational. From the very beginning of the Chapter, we see the plural form of the word for God -- "Elohim" in Hebrew. We see God, and we see the Spirit of God, although the Father and Son are not well differentiated yet. But Elohim got along well enough together back then to decide to make us in their image ... whatever that means.
Back to the Why question: in another portion of Scripture (1John 1:3) it says weíre supposed to have fellowship with God. And that leads to some interesting questions.
First question: What is "fellowship?"
The Greek word koinonia expresses it best -- things in common.
With WHOM can we have a high degree of koinonia?
Those with shared interests or abilities. Also those with complementary interests or abilities.
Can we also have fellowship with anything other than God or humans? Based on time spent in their company, what else to we -- in this country -- have koinonia with?
TV, stereo, computers, toys, pets, cars, motorcycles, books, jewelry, clothes, and lots more, Iím sure. These are all things that we apparently have a high degree of koinonia with, based on the amount of time we spend on them and with them.
By contrast, with whom or with what will we have a low degree of fellowship?
Pythons, mosquito larvae, jellyfish, quicksand, flu virus, earthquakes, ex-business partners...
And what did we say fellowship was?
Koinonia -- that which is shared or held in common.
Notice a key concept: if God created us originally in Their likeness, that means our first parents were designed from the start to have something in common -- koinonia, fellowship -- with God. This also implies some means of communication based on the shared traits. In turn, we were intended to have dominion over the earth.
Does this verse say that the earth was created in manís image, or that God created man just so that God would have somebody to have dominion over?
Nope. From the very first time that human beings are mentioned, the context speaks to us of fellowship -- something shared -- with God.
This, then, is the first basis of fellowship: Shared traits of some sort, and some means of communicating based on these traits.
Something in us is MADE for fellowship with God and fellowship with each other. You and I are both human, created (somehow) in Godís image, or so it says here. That means that much as we may differ in other areas, we share a common source and a common design feature -- the capacity to experience fellowship with God.
By contrast, how much fellowship would we have with a race of extraterrestrial creatures who spoke in high-pitched voices like dog whistles? Theyíd think we were deaf! And our dogs would either love them or hate them.
Key concept #2: Adam and Eve were created to have dominion over the earth. This introduces an element of accountability into the picture.
- Thereís some part of us that was created in the image of God, so ...
- The implication is that some part of us is capable of fellowship with God because of SOME degree of shared traits.
- We are capable of fellowship with each other because of SOME degree of shared traits.
- And with the relationship or fellowship we also receive some measure of responsibility and accountability.
Now Genesis chapter two, verse 8:And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.
What then was the second basis for fellowship here?
A place -- the Garden. So the first basis for fellowship we saw was shared traits. Second, a shared place, like this website in our case. In Adamís case, the place is described as a garden, providing for his physical and aesthetic needs. The concept recurs throughout Scripture, as weíll see.
Now verses 16-17.And the LORD God commanded the man saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it; for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die."
Can you guess what the third basis for fellowship is?
The commandment: shared values, purpose, held as conducive to maintaining fellowship. Note the last part of verse 17:"...for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die."
What do you see here that might be the fourth basis for fellowship?
Here we have an acknowledgement of the limits of fellowship and the means for ending it. This is a fourth basis for koinonia: shared limits, or boundaries, as weíd call them today, and the risk of ending the fellowship.
Now letís read verses 18-20:And the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." And out of the ground, the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them. And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was its name.
Here we have a special case of fellowship -- God created man with the capacity to enjoy koinonia with Him. But somehow, it didnít seem to be enough fellowship for Adam. Then God brought a bunch of animals to Adam, and let Adam name them. But all the Kingís horses and all the Kingís skunks werenít enough to satisfy Adamís need for fellowship. And itís still true today: a man or woman may have all the worldís goods, and a pet -- even a group of pets -- and still be lonely.
Letís continue with verses 21-23:And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept. And He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh where it had been. And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, He made a woman and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man."
Did SHE make Adam happy?I sincerely hope so.
On what basis did they have koinonia?All of the elements mentioned so far:
Now the first marriage relationship introduces a fifth and very unique basis for fellowship: sexual relations. The marriage fellowship also introduces a subtle catch, as weíll see.
- Shared traits and needs,
- Shared location,
- Shared responsibilities,
- Shared boundaries of behavior.
Verse 24:Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cling to his wife, and they shall be one flesh.
Who can tell me what the catch is, based on this verse?Man shall leave parents and have koinonia with his wife. It's the element of conscious and willing choice.
Therefore the sixth basis for fellowship: consciously choosing one over some other. Choosing to have MORE in common with one than another.I want you all to notice what all this meant from Godís perspective: God gave Adam a very special person to have fellowship with, even though that person -- in a very real sense -- competed with God for Adamís affections. God gave Adam the capacity to have a marriage relationship, knowing how much time and attention that type of fellowship requires.
So letís review what weíve studied as the bases for fellowship:
- Shared traits, characteristics.
- A special place.
- Shared values & purposes, held as conducive to maintaining fellowship.
- Shared limits, and understanding of the means of ending or limiting fellowship.
- The special complementarity of the marriage relationship and sexual relations.
- The conscious choice to have fellowship with a certain one or a certain group.
So far, we've only discussed positive influences on relationships. In Lesson Two, we'll begin looking at forces that can destroy a relationship.