From De-creation to Re-creation, Part 1

This week's scripture is Jeremiah 4:22-30, a sobering image of "de-creation."  

Hard to be thankful for a passage like this one, as it's not really one that "sounds fun."  But there are two words we must notice: Formless and Empty.  The very beginning of scripture, Genesis 1, uses those two words to describe a pre-created world of chaos.  And though God created order (Greek kosmos) out of that chaos, the people of God to whom Jeremiah is speaking are contributing to and experiencing its opposite: de-creation.

Since no one in our generation had ever experienced a global pandemic before, it continues to be for us a profound illustration of so many things.  In this case, the pandemic, including all the good ways we've been able to cope like online worship, has become an example of de-creation.  We know, to the core of our being, that it is wrong.  It has de-created so much.

And this will speak to an "Instagram culture": "What are you doing, you devastated one?...You adorn yourself in vain."  We are infected by a culture we often can't even see.  We dress ourselves up to appear good and right while we are disconnected from God, from the source of life itself.  We replace God with idols, just like human beings always have.  And you know it's an idol when it demands a sacrifice!  Like time with your family, or your own health.  Idols "want to kill you."  

Let's look at patterns of de-creation.  

1) Disconnection from God's gift of creation creates de-creation.  This includes what we talked about last week -- God's command to rest every seventh day.  If God needed to rest after seven days, what makes us think we don't need to?  

2) Re-connection to God's gracious giving creates re-creation.  Human beings still long for Eden.  To be utterly connected to the gift of this world without the burden of sin, pride and its counterpart, shame.  "Fun" activities may or may not accomplish this, though, depending on how we go about our fun activities.  You will never connect with God and not feel re-created!

3) When God redeems a people, he invites them to participate in his process of re-creation.  UPPC's Outreach and Care ministries, as well as our partnerships with Families Unlimited Network, U.P. School District, Olive Crest, Reach, and other mission partners, are expressions of that participation as the collective Body of Christ.

So we need to stop glamorizing over-work.  The absence of sleep, good diet, exercise, and time with loved ones is not something to be applauded.  Too many people wear their burnout as a badge of honor.  Overwork is just like the thickets, rocks, and caves in Jeremiah's passage today.  "Getting away" is not the solution to an unsustainable pace!  A sustainable pace is the solution to an unsustainable pace! 

Finally, here's something to remember.  Last week we heard that God is ultimately and entirely in charge (not us.)  So when we read the famous Psalm 23, we mustn't miss that God doesn't "invite" us to lie down by quiet waters.  God "makes us" to lie down by quiet waters.  In other words, if we don't follow his commandment to rest, God will make us rest.  

- Where is the place you are able to lose yourself in God's presence?
- Do you have any memories of an experience like that?  When?  Where?
- What "finish lines" are built into your life, if any?  If none, what finish lines could you put in place
- What would it look like for you to embrace your limits as a creature in God's world?  (Have you ever noticed that no other creature on earth seems ashamed of accepting its creaturely limitations?)

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