From The Dust

God formed man
From the dust of the earth
Breathed into him the breath of life
Man became a human being.
Genesis 2:7

Humanity did not spring fully formed from the head of Zeus like Athena or fall from the sky like one of the gods of Greek mythology. Humanity did not have a pre-existent state in the non-spatial, non-temporal realm of perfect forms as Plato imagined. Humanity did not come from somewhere other than the earth. Humanity’s only home has been the spinning blue orb third from the sun. If this world is not our home (as the Gnostics claimed) we are homeless.

Humanity was formed.
Formed by God.
Formed from the earth.
All living things share common ancestry
The dust of the earth.

These are just musings from my deck on an absolutely beautiful day. I’ve been here all day. Mostly reading. The Gospel of John, Amos, “The Prophets” by Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Light In August” by William Faulkner. I see the trees, the blue sky, the wispy clouds. I hear the drone of cicadas, the raucous call of a blue jay, a moaning dove, the songs of birds I can’t identify. Sleepy cats lounge nearby. And these thoughts came to my mind. (Oh, by the way, the picture is “The Creation of Man” by Marc Chagall.)

We come from the earth and this is why we have an affinity for the earth and a common bond with all of God’s good creation. Humanity is not something other than natural creation, we are fully part of natural creation. When I hike in the mountains I am not an alien or an intruder; I am in my natural habitat. But humanity is something special in natural creation. Human beings are that which most fully bear the Imago Dei and are appointed to exercise wise and just rule over natural creation. So suited are humans to bear the image of God, that God could become fully human and lose none of his divinity. The mystery of the Incarnation elevates the dignity of man.

Exponential expansion
Too hot
Cool down
A suitable star
A blue planet
Beginning to be green
Insects, fish, reptiles, birds, mammals
Opens his eyes to creation, wonder, goodness
And God

Humanity is the point of it all. A point 13.7 billion years in the making. The animate being who can appreciate creation, appreciate his own existence, and — greatest of all — appreciate God!

And if you think 13.7 billion years is a long time to get to the point, well, what is 13.7 billion years to an eternal being who exists outside of time? Nothing at all. It’s just how the cake is baked.

This is why Genesis rushes through eons of creation in a single page and then slows way down with the creation of man — the perspective now changes, from God’s eternal perspective, to man’s temporal perspective.

But here we are now. Living, breathing, being human. And what does it mean to be human? A whole lot more than being the most intelligent mammal on the block. Because God breathed his breath-wind-spirit into humanity we have the unique capacity to know God and thereby know the moral law, to know good and evil, to know morality beyond expediency and mystery beyond pragmatism.

It’s true nature is red in tooth and claw, but crocodile and jackal have not the breath-wind-spirit of God to open their eyes, to know God and the higher moral law. That’s why we can’t behave like animals and be fully human. Of course the original deception was to think that we can discern good and evil, right and wrong apart from a relationship with God. That lying snake!

Original sin is a way of thinking. A wrong way of thinking. Thousands of years of wars and injustice and poverty and abuse and human brutality and human cruelty and human stupidity should have taught us that by now. But as Paul said, “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” I guess not.

But God did not abandon the human project. That’s not God’s style. God entered the mess to give the human race a second chance, a new start, the elevation after the fall.

God joined humanity.


Nine months in utero. Human birth. Learning self-identity. Learning to walk and talk, read and write, add and subtract, how to pound nails and pray ancient prayers and make more discoveries of self-identity.

The most sublime of all mysteries.

Because God deemed humanity worth salvaging he became a human being in Jesus Christ. And if God has such a lofty view of being human, we should too.

What is salvation about? It’s about being human and being human the way God intended.

Salvation is not about gazing inward upon the beatific vision ala medieval monastics.

Salvation is not about escaping outward for some other world ala eschatologically daft dispensationalists.

Salvation is about being human again.

Salvation is about recovering identity and vocation.

The identity of Imago Dei and the vocation of wise and just dominion.

Remember what Jesus did on the first day of the new age — the first day following his resurrection:
He breathed on his disciples.
New creation.
New beginning.
New humanity.

Salvation is for humanity. For here. For now. For being human.

If your salvation is not relevant to here and now humanity, you’ve been sold a cheap substitute. Go back and get the real thing.

I had a dream. I dreamed I was riding a yellow bicycle. Riding a yellow bicycle observing the beauty of creation (especially the colors of creation — the green grass, the blue sky) and thinking. I was thinking about salvation. I had a very specific thought. When I woke up I wrote it down.

When we make salvation all about an afterlife,
We create a barrier–
We have to interest people in that.
But when we locate salvation here and now,
People are naturally interested.

Salvation is about being human.
That this has to be said,
Shows how confused we are.
That is sounds strange in our ears,
Shows just how deeply confused we are.

Get rid of the confusion by making it more simple.
Salvation is about being what we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to be it.
What else could real salvation be?

Let us live out our salvation in our humanity.
Let our salvation connect us with our fellow humanity.
Let it not create an artificial religious divide.
Us vs. Them is for Pharisees, not Jesus followers.
Let us follow the example of our Savior.
The God-Man who intentionally joined the human race.

This kind of salvation does not need artificial aids to pump up artificial passion like the inward gazing or outward escaping distortions of salvation. This kind of salvation creates the authentic passion of authentic faith.

To be animated dust, breathed upon by God, and given the new way of being human in Christ contains its own intrinsic passion: Love of life.