I was talking to my friend Olya the other day about using Instagram to spread good vibes. I frequently take pictures of myself doing yoga poses, which I post with a few thoughts to inspire and encourage people. To increase my influence/followers and thus magnify my ability to spread Love, Olya suggested I consider having a professional take my pictures in ways that highlight and show off my strength and grace. I share this because something within me recoiled at the notion. As I’ve pondered this response, it seems to me part of what’s going on is a reluctance to embrace the God given glory we’re infused with.
This naturally leads me to Noah and the flood story. 🙂 Before I go into what I mean by that, I’d like to give props to Dr. Timothy Mackie, as his insights on The Deconstructionists podcast inspired and informed where I’m going here.
Although we read Noah’s flood story in Genesis 6-9, I think we see the key prelude to it in the creation poem of Genesis 1 (side note, there’s A LOT of parallels between the creation and flood narratives. In many ways the flood tale is one of recreation). At the pinnacle of creation we read: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” (Genesis 1.26, NRSV)
(Here’s a pic of me in Flying Pigeon I did myself)
While God being the genesis of all creation means the entire cosmos is aflame with divine beauty, it seems us humans have an extra serving of the Spirit in us, as we’re uniquely created to resemble and reflect God’s goodness. Likewise, just as our Creator rules the cosmos, we are made and intended to co-govern the earth in the same manner. We are created to be queens and kings co-reigning with the Divine. We see this theme from the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis 1.26-7, to the end, in Revelation 22.5. In between, we are dubbed “gods” in Psalm 82.6 and John 10.34, which I read as meaning we are to be representatives of God’s character and ways in the world.
One of, if not the, most frequent title for humans in the New Testament is saints. In 1 Corinthians 6.2-3, Paul goes so far as to remind us we’re going to judge not only the world, but also angels! No pressure or anything, LOL. 2 Timothy 2.12 says those who follow the Christ will reign with God, so the question becomes: If God made us to “rule the world”, what does that mean and how do we do it? Like Christ, it’s that “simple”! In Philippians 2.1-11, for instance, Paul implores us to imitate and be like Christ, which means leading with love, remaining humble, caring for others, seeking the betterment of others, setting aside our impulse to compete and compare, and acting with unity and harmony in mind.
This leads me to a passage/point, which will guide us back to the flood story. In Colossians 3.8-15 Paul invites us to “get rid of … anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language,” while not lying to or dividing people, because we’re one human race. He continues by writing, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience”, before reminding us to “forgive each other”, and concluding with the sweet prompt to,“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
(This pic of me in Flying Pigeon was taken professionally by Tyler Brower)
To sum up, we’re created to rule like and bear the image of Divine glory in the world. God made us powerful. The problem is we tend to think power equals control, self-benefit, and violence, while our Creator intends/uses it for vulnerability, compassion, kindness, and love. The cool thing is God gifted us free will, which means we get to choose between heavenly service and hellish selfishness. In Noah’s flood story (Genesis 6), the reason God is said to release the waterworks is humanity was choosing the latter by ruling via wickedness and violence, instead of peace and love.
A SUPER important thing easily missed in the story is the symbolism of water. To make a long story short, in the Bible large amounts/bodies of water often symbolizes chaos and disorder, meaning it’s a destructive force. When humanity lived in harmony these tumultuous energies were held at bay, but when violence and selfishness ruled us, the wickedness we lived by drowned us.
So, here’s my summary of what’s going on in the flood narrative: Humans are made in the divine image of goodness to reign over the world in a Christ-like manner that enlivens and empowers plants, animals, people, etc. We are created powerful, glorious, and free to choose if our divine gifts are used for beauty or brutality. While God hopes we utilize our authority in a vulnerable and kind way, the Divine gives us choice. The path of Love (i.e. the giving of oneself for thriving and flourishing) is the way of God, and thus is the flow and nature of the universe. When we go withthe flow, life is good for everyone, but when we go againstthe grain of reality by attempting to be queens and kings of power, control, and violence, suffering comes. In short, today, as in the flood story, when we choose violence and division we’ll reap what we sow (i.e. the chaos and destruction the waters represent), but when we live into our God given goodness life becomes grand.
I don’t know about you, but I think this is pretty great news. Our Source is so giving, empowering, and fantastic, that the Creator made us in the divine image to gloriously shine Divine loving-kindness to people, animals, nature, and our selves. While I’m still processing my conversation with Olya, more than ever I think it’s incredible to be human, made by, fueled with, and intended to spread Divine beauty, care, and kindness!
Grace and peace,