Consider the architect who has designed an urban renewal center: a multiplex with apartment buildings and retail outlets. The project was launched with some local news fanfare and with great expectations. After the first building is “roughed in,” the architect decides to visit the site. To his dismay, he discovers that the purchasing agent has provided lower grade steel beams, the foreman has substituted some lower strength bolts; and worst of all, the foundations have been made from an uncertified cement supplier.
After exploring possible solutions and repairs, he decides to level the first building and start over.
The history of mankind is something like this: cheap substitutes which change the design and ultimately do not work.
The Scriptures provide the blueprint for Christian living. There seem to be endless insights for Christian living and many of those insights seem to have even deeper levels of wisdom waiting to be discovered. For example, “God is love.” A new Christian will get that at some level. As a disciple matures in his relationship with the Lord, he will observe and discover the depths of this simple statement. As his prayer life grows, he will discover and experience the profound nature of “God is love.”
The basic principles of living “by design” are initially laid out in Genesis.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”Genesis 1: 27-28
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.Genesis 2: 15-19
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.Genesis 3:4-6
To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life…”Genesis 3: 16-17
These Scriptures reveal some fundamental characteristics of God’s design:
- He thinks he is in charge.
- He gives us things we are allowed to do.
- He gives us things we are not allowed to do.
- Man has free will and is free to choose.
- He will test us.
- When man chooses to disobey, there will be consequences.
For many of us, this will seem obvious and basic; but these are some of the first and most basic principles that must be understood and embraced before we can explore the other elements of God’s design as revealed in Scripture. In part two of “God’s Design”, we will consider: 1) the roles of men and women; 2) order in the family; and 3) some interesting elements in the early chapters of Genesis.
Remember, the architect is offended whenever the site supervisor, the foreman, the purchasing agent, or the technicians act outside of the design.
A “Macro” Look at Genesis 2-3
In Genesis 2 and 3, we see man placed in the garden and the fall of man. This is the story of Adam and Eve (micro). If we zoom out from the Adam and Eve story, we can see a “macro” view that involves all of human history; a forever template is revealed for all civilizations, all governments, all families, all clans, and all religious institutions: someone will be in charge (responsibility); there will be rules; there will always be consequences for breaking the rules. Those responsible can never “pass the buck.” Fathers and Christian leaders will be responsible for failure.
Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.Hebrews 13:17
This is the order of God’s design and things work best when we follow His blueprints. This flies in the face of our flesh, and obedience does not come easily. But obedience yields fruit and function and peace. Things that seem “basic”, if ignored, can lead to the moral free-fall of a civilization…and that’s where we find ourselves today.
Before we transition into some specific areas of God’s Design, I thought it might be helpful to share and to illustrate how I read and understand Scripture. After all, different approaches to Scripture can lead to different conclusions as to the meaning of a verse.
My approach is to see what I can learn or what can inspire or even move me to action. I pay special attention to commands, but I am also interested in curious or humorous verses. Early Genesis chapters reveal a lot about God’s Design, but they also reveal a lot about the nature of man. I will cover some verses as examples, but others will be saved as steppingstones into areas of God’s Design. Early Genesis is excellent fodder for group Bible studies and very animated discussions are likely to follow…revealing (at least) the many different approaches that we may have to reading Scripture
- The first example of blame-shifting in Genesis 3 (“the woman you gave me”)
- The first example of a man throwing his wife “under the bus.” (“she gave me the fruit and I ate”)
- The second example of blame-shifting. (“the serpent…”)
- The first example of a man shirking his responsibility for leading his family.
Like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.1 Peter 2:5
…in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.Ephesians 2:22
- God’s Design: Part One – Basic Principles of “Living by Design” in Scripture
- God’s Design: Part Two – Embracing the Wisdom of the Divine Architect
- God’s Design: Part Three – Christian Leaders
- God’s Design: Part Four – A People
Top image credit: A cropped detail from the “The Fall of Man” painting of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, painted by Hendrik Goltzius in 1616. Painting located in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., USA. Image is in the public domain. Source from Commons Wikimedia.
Bob Tedesco is the founder of the People of God, a Sword of the Spirit community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA where he served as Senior Coordinator for 26 years. He has been involved in lay ministry for over forty-five years, and has served as Regional President of the North American region in the Sword of the Spirit.