Tuesday, March 7
“God separated the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:4).
At the beginning of our Bible God creates, not only by speaking, but also by separation. As Claus Westermann observed, the first three days of creation all involve acts of separation: light from darkness (1:3-5); waters above from waters below (1:6-8); dry land from water (1:9-13; Claus Westermann, Genesis: A Practical Commentary, trans. David Green [Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1987], 8-9). The Hebrew word used here, hibdil, is important in the vocabulary of Israel’s priesthood. One of the primary tasks of priests in ancient Israel was to teach their people to keep the holy separate from the common, the clean from the unclean (Leviticus 10:10).
Likely, Genesis 1:1—2:4a regards God and the world from that same priestly perspective. At issue is the goodness of each and every aspect of creation on its own, as a gift from God. Genesis 1:1—2:4a affirms God’s valuation of the world in and for itself. Again and again the text affirms, “God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25), and when the work of creation is complete, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). The goodness of creation does not depend on its utility for human beings: God calls the world good well before we show up! The creation is good because God calls it good, in all its diversity.
In our own context, however, we may miss the point. We may think that God baptizes our own divisions, and wants us to stay in our homogeneous boxes. So too, in the human community, God calls us to affirm the created goodness of other races and cultures. God calls us not to bland homogeneity, but to the celebration of our differences.
Prayer: O God, help me to see the world in your terms: as good in itself, rather than good if it is good for me. Help me to see my sisters and brothers, too, as sisters and brothers, rather than as means to my own ends. In the name of Christ Jesus, who “came not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45), Amen.