On Tuesday February 14th 2017 it felt like my year had finally started for real. After many days wasted spent ‘wanting more from God but never actually doing anything about it’ I decided to read the Bible. Not the whole thing, obviously. But I decided to commit to reading the entire Bible within a year. It’s not an easy feat, as I am familiar with already. Previous attempts to do the same thing have failed. In fact, I don’t even think I’ve read the entire Bible cover-to-cover. It’s not a requirement to get into Heaven. In the bits I have read God doesn’t say, “you won’t get into Heaven if you can’t name the ancestors of Jesus as listed in Matthew 1 from memory.” But I am not blind to the fact that reading the entire Bible can help you tremendously with your faith, life and everything else.
And that’s what I want to focus on. How just reading the first chapter of Genesis and a devotional alongside it, relieved me of some spiritual discomfort that had been a burden for a long time.
In the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water. Then God commanded, “Let there be light” – and light appeared.
Let me give you a bit of context.
A while ago, I was living with some people who believe in Christianity in a different way to me. Out of respect I’m not gonna name their belief, all you need to know is that it was different to what I believe. I thought that everyone would be respectful and cool with the whole situation, just as I intended to be. And to a certain extent I was correct. But, there were other times when things just didn’t go that way. The problem with these times is that they were so delicate, because relationships are delicate. You don’t want to start an argument with anyone and corrupt a friendship. You don’t want to offend somebody and irritate that bond you share. For me that translates to: I don’t want to stand up for myself and make anyone upset. So, a lot of the time when faced with alternative explanations about parts of the Bible, I would just sit there and take it.
Let me give you an example.
One night, one of the people I was living with wanted to talk to me about who he thinks Jesus really is as part of our weekly bible study thing. (Something I agreed to do just to people please – which in hindsight was not my best idea.) In around one hour and forty-five minutes he debunked the idea of The Trinity and with it the idea that Jesus is God. My response throughout his supporting bible verses and explanatory books and (awkward) discussions was mute. I couldn’t think of anything to say. Partly because of not wanting to start an argument, but I think more so because I didn’t know that much about the Bible.
“What about Jesus’ name, Immanuel?” was the only thing I could voice confidently. Immanuel meaning, “God with us”.
“That’s just a name.”
That explanation didn’t sit well with me. It felt too simple and a complete contrast to the way he was explaining his belief before. But the whole alternative description of Jesus was enough to shake me up. And I have remained ‘shook’ until this day: Feb 14th 2017. Obviously within that period (of just over a year) there have been moments when I’ve read parts of the Bible that align with my belief. Such as at the end of Revelation where Jesus says, “I am the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (v13) Or in John 1:1 where it says, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word being Jesus. And another one in Hebrews 1 where the greatness of Jesus is displayed: “You, Lord, in the beginning created the earth, and with your own hands you made the heavens.” (v10)
Then there’s an interesting bit in Genesis 1:26 where God says, “And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us…” When I heard that I could’ve jumped for joy! Because God refers to Himself in plural. To clarify, I don’t mean there’s three gods, I mean there’s one God, who exists in three Persons: Father, Son & Holy Spirit. “They will be like us and resemble us.” And I knew human beings were made in the image of God. But even that wasn’t enough to keep my doubt away. It felt like a piece of understanding to enable me to really believe again was still missing.
So then we fast forward to today where I get an explanation of the use of ‘God’ in Genesis chapter 1. English only has one word for God – God. But the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. My devotional for this morning told me that in Hebrew, there exists a plural noun for God, Elohim. This time I really did jump for joy. Then my devotional made it clear how the whole Trinity was involved in creation. The Father (Jehovah) was in the beginning, existing before all things (v1). The Spirit was moving over the water (v2). And The Son (Jesus/The Word) brought all things into creation (v3, John 1:3)
When I actually took time to pause my life and read my Bible, it felt like faith boundaries held by doubt had been breached.
It felt like my soul had aligned itself with God again.
Being a believer is one thing. But actually believing in what you know, is next level.
I’m optimistic for the year ahead.