Today’s AMI QT is provided by Cami King of JCC (Raleigh).
Devotional Thoughts for Today
In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.
I will never forget my first time really reading this passage. I’ve been around the Bible my whole life so I’m sure I’d heard these couple verses before. But when I was a seminary student studying Hebrew, I remember reading this passage and being utterly fascinated (and slightly confused) by the language in the text. If you look at a few different English translations, maybe you’ll see what I mean:
In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created. (NASB)
When God created humankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female; when they were created, he blessed them and named them “humankind.” (NET)
This is the written account of the descendants of Adam. When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself. 2 He created them male and female, and he blessed them and called them “human.” (NLT)
In the original, the word translated “man” or “humankind” is the Hebrew word adam (where we get the name Adam). Now adam is what God names his human creation – all of it. Yes, the human creation bears difference (they are male and female according to vs. 2) and distinction (elsewhere in Genesis by Hebrew words meaning man [ish] and woman [isha] – the latter being taken out of the former and thus named accordingly [see Genesis 2:23]), but they are one creation. They are God’s precious adam (i.e., humankind). It is actually not until after The Fall that the woman is given a name other than adam – in Genesis 3:20, the man begins to call the woman Eve.
This carries a ton of implications for me – the bulk of which we don’t have time to explore here. But one thing that was crystal clear in the reading of these verses (and my imperfect grappling with the text as a student) is that God made us for oneness and intimacy with one another. We live in an individualistic society. That’s no surprise. We’re reminded of this all the time. But our passage today is a clear declaration of our purpose for community. We are so called to one another, that in creating all people, God didn’t even bother to give us separate names. Those designations came after our sin. Much like the God in whose image we were created, who exists 3 in one community – all God, we are created for relationship, with God yes, but also with one another. May God remind us anew today of the value of one another and beauty of life together!
Prayer: Almighty God, who exists as one great God in three persons, thank You for fashioning me in Your image. Remind me today of the importance of interdependency and community with the people around me. May I never be satisfied with individualistic living, but may I instead choose the “one another” life, a life together with my fellow adams. Teach me what it means to live in intimacy and oneness with the people you’ve placed in my life. Thank you for them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 41
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 22:34-40: But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Questions to Consider:
- When Jesus is asked to give the greatest commandment or the most important/significant one, what does he say? What would it mean for you to uphold the greatest commandment today?
- In verse 39, Jesus gives a sort of two-for-one special and adds to the greatest the second greatest. What was that commandment? Why do you think Jesus linked the two together?
- I’ve heard it said before that Christians for many years have been so turned upwards that they often step on or over the people right in front of them whom they are called to love. It’s a funny picture, but it’s not hard to imagine time when I’ve been so focused on me and God that I forgot about the other side of the coin. Who are the people you’ll encounter throughout your day today? What are some ways your interactions with them would be different if you remembered Jesus’ words above? What are some practical ways you can love those around you?
- The greatest command is to love the Lord our God with all of ourselves. One commentator explained that the heart, soul, and mind are not entirely distinct in the imaginations of Jesus’ hearers and put together the three are pointing to a love by the whole of oneself (and all we imagine that to entail).
- The second greatest command, which is like the first, is to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus, I believe, links these two together because it is nearly impossible to truly love God and not love others. I always like the image of a coin where loving God is one side and loving our neighbors is the other side. They are different, yes, but they are two sides to the same coin. If we have truly known God’s love for us, and responded in love for him, the natural result (just as sure as 1+1=2) is love of those whom God loves so much.
- Spend some time in personal reflection
In reflecting on the call to “love your neighbor as yourself,” C. S. Lewis explains the following: “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained. In order to have a steady wish for the good of another, in order to take practical steps to bring that good into being, we have to first discipline our minds to think of others. The hardest part about loving our neighbors is rarely that we hate them, but that we fail to think of them nearly as often as we think of ourselves (and our little kingdoms) if at all. Part of learning what it means to be called to community and part of experiencing our created purpose of interdependence, is first learning to consider others. Jesus challenges us to consider others better than ourselves, but for many of us, we haven’t even made it to the step of just considering others (better or worse) except as some extension of our wants, needs, etc. But our relationship with God and our relationship with others are inextricably linked, so we have to take the business of life together seriously.
Spend some time thinking about your tendency toward individualism:
What are some ways you fight interdependence? What are the areas in your life where you are more selfish and self-absorbed? Who are the people in your life you fail to consider? What occupies your thoughts instead?
Our ability to love others and do life together first begins with our awareness of God’s love for us. Spend some time meditating on God’s love for you. Thank God for the unconditional love you’ve received; allow it to fill your heart. Ask Him to direct that same love through you to the people around you and in the relationships He’s given you.