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God’s Relational Intention


A prayer used in many churches each Sunday begins: “Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself. . . .” The words of this prayer remind us that God’s intention for humanity from the very beginning was for His own delight in being with His creation. This month, our study will focus on the ways God’s desire to dwell with us persists from Eden to the End.

Beginning with Genesis 1, we see God’s initiative toward creation, for it was He alone who “created the heavens and the earth” (v. 1). His intimate presence was there from the very beginning as “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (v. 2). From the start, Scripture highlights not only God’s power to create but also His intention to be present with His created world.

Then God spoke and all that exists came into being. As Genesis 1 proceeds, we see the care, creativity, and order of God’s creation. Our world is no random, haphazard result of impersonal forces and chemical reactions. It is the product of a loving God of beauty and design. First, each realm is created—day and night, sky and earth, water and land. Then the inhabitants of each realm are brought forth—stellar bodies, sea creatures, birds, and animals. Like a great artist, God formed His world with purpose and order.

Finally, Genesis 1 demonstrates God’s goodness toward His creation. Throughout the chapter, God beheld His new creation and “saw that it was good” (vv. 10, 12 18). He “blessed” the creatures He had made (v. 22). The creation account in Scripture reveals God’s purpose and initiative toward the world, His care and design in bringing it into being, and His goodness and love for it. The stage was now set for the climax: the creation of humanity.

Apply the Word

In these days before Christmas, reflect on how God’s intention to dwell with us is demonstrated in all of creation. If weather permits, spend time outside noting the ways God’s presence and care are manifested. Then pray that God would use this month’s study to deepen your understanding of His desire for relationship with you.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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