Protect and Serve - Genesis 1:27; 9:1-7 Matthew 5:21-22

1.      Do you physically favor your parents? (Share your experience.)

2.      Do your children favor you? (Share your experience.)

Although some of us may “look like” other family members, all of us are created in the image of God.

   Because God created humans in His image, every life has value, regardless of age, gender, race, or nationality. Being made in God’s image, we are to affirm the value of every person and protect all human life—including those in their mother’s womb. Truly, being created in God’s image is more than a privilege; it is a responsibility. Maintaining that image in our lives and helping others maintain that image is a difficult, lifelong process.—PSG, pg 73

3.      How is life a gift?

4.      How is life a responsibility?

5.      What makes life valuable? (We determine possessions’ worth based on the value we place on them whether monetary, trade, sentimental, or personal. To the world, people’s value might lie in their contributions, talents, intelligence, skills, or outward appearance. God values a person based solely on the fact that humans are His creation.)

In today’s Scripture we will focus on God’s view of humans, made in His image.

(Our individual views on abortion and assisted suicide and even allowing a terminally ill elderly adult to simply die can change over time. We must remember that God is merciful and forgives. A young couple could have had an abortion and later discovered the truths of God’s Word concerning the taking of a human life—at any age or stage of development to be sin. God forgives!) 

 

In His Image! Read Genesis 1:27

 

1.      What does it mean to be created in God’s image? (This question is widely debated, but considers the following: God is eternal. Man is eternal, that is man has a spirit, as does God. While God is eternal man’s spirit will live throughout eternity yet to come, as does God. God and humans are personal beings who possess the attributes of personality. These attributes include capability of intelligence and thought, emotion, and decisions of the will. We can discern between good and evil. We are moral agents who decide which choice to make.—PSG pg 75)

While we may not fully understand what it means to be made in God’s image, we are the only creature that carries this distinction.

2.      How does the idea of all humans being created in God’s image run contrary to attitudes sometimes seen in today’s society?

3.      What evidence might a person point to as proof that they value all people? (That we oppose oppression and prejudice of all kinds. We affirm the value of every person as being created in God’s image—not just in word but in action, as well. No racism or any other form of hatred. Read James 3:9)

4.      What is distinctive about how God categorizes humans in this passage? (Men and women are of equal worth in God’s sight, yet God created them to be distinctly different. There is no mix up as to what gender a person is—God didn’t create an “it”.)

 

It’s a first step in the right direction to affirm that all people are created in God’s image. Now let’s explore how we are to protect human life.

Genesis chapters 6, 7 and 8 tell us about the great flood that destroyed all land creatures save those who were in the ark God led Noah to build. In chapter 9 God enters into a covenant with Noah and gives instruction concerning protecting human life.

To Be Protected! Read Genesis 9:1-7

 

Before the flood it seems that all living creatures lived in harmony with humans. It also appears that humans were vegetarians.

1.       What authority did God give Noah upon leaving the ark and starting over with humanity? (God gave Noah and his sons’ authority over all living creatures. God said that all creatures would fear humans.)

In contrast to God’s specific instructions to Adam and Eve about what plants to eat, God gave Noah and his sons’ full authority to eat all living creatures and plants.

2.      Read Genesis 1:28-31. How do the instructions God gave Noah compare to the instructions He gave Adam in the garden? (God told Noah and his sons to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. He also told them to be in authority over all living creatures. God warned them against eating live animals, and that they should protect human life by requiring the life of any creature that took the life of a human.)

While Christians differ on the use of the death penalty, the emphasis God gave to Noah was that human life is valuable, and other humans should protect it.

            God’s requirement for us to protect human life is based on humans being created in God’s image.

3.      How can a believer be the voice of a person silenced by violence? (Be an advocate for pro-life. Let our voice be heard when individuals or people groups are discriminated against. Our efforts should be centered on affirming the value of life by being evangelistic and mission-minded, caring for the welfare of others, speaking for the unborn, stopping abuse and enslavement, standing up for the persecuted, and treating life as precious wherever it is found.)

4.      How can we see value in all people—even those we disagree with or whom we’ve been hurt by? (God cares for each individual life and we should reflect God’s attitudes in the way we live our life. See James 3:9-10)

It is clear from the beginning that God’s plan was for all human life to be valued. Next, we turn to the New Testament and see how Jesus turned the spotlight on people’s heart attitudes.

 

In Action and Attitude! Read Matthew 5:21-22

 

1.      How does Jesus connect our heart attitudes with our actions?

These verses come from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus established the moral code for Christians!

The Pharisees only looked at a person’s outward behavior. Jesus connected the people’s heart attitudes with their actions

2.      In what ways are murder and anger connected? (Left unchecked anger becomes rage, out of control anger.)

3.      How does a person’s attitude serve as a mirror of what a person truly thinks and believes?

4.      What is the difference between respect and tolerance?

5.      Can a person confuse tolerance and respect?

6.      Note the commands given by God in Genesis 1:27; 9:6; and Matthew 5:22. What do these commands reveal about God’s view of humanity? (God not only values human life, but His plan calls for us to show we value others through our attitudes and actions!)

God expects His followers to go further—to show actions and attitudes that value other people’s lives.

7.      In what way do Jesus’ words demand changes in your own attitudes toward other people?

8.      What actions do you need to take in order to bring about these changes?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What will it look like in our culture today for us to stand up for all people, made in the image of God?

2.      How can we be advocates for those who cannot speak for themselves?

3.      What actions can we take this week?

 

We might ask ourselves, “Why did God even bother to create human beings in the first place?”  Many times we define God as love, and rightly so. God’s love is why he created us—so that His great love would have an object to lavish His love on. So much so that when His creation rejected Him, He would go to the ultimate length of sending His Son to redeem, or buy back what was His in the first place.

How could we neglect so great a salvation! If God placed that much value on us while we were astray how could we do less?

 

The ultimate act of love we can express toward others is to tell them how much God loves them and share God’s salvation plan with them.