August 27 – Genesis 1: 1-3


Main focus: God has always existed in perfect community.

After starting at the end, we’re headed back to the beginning. In Genesis 1:1-3 we’ll find God at the very start of his work in creation, but we’ll also have the opportunity to ask, what was God doing before the beginning?

To enrich your CG discussion, check out the Divine Community Study Guide!

You can get it online here or at your Vintage location on a Sunday.

Asking this question, and partially answering it by returning to John 17, will help set a theological framework for our Divine Community series by establishing four things: 1) The Triune God has existed eternally in perfect loving community. 2) Within that divine community there are distinct persons with distinct roles (i.e. diversity within unity). Therefore, 3) Loving, diverse community is both a good thing and a reflection of God’s nature. And, as we’ll see in our discussion this week, 4) The loving community of the Triune God is on a mission to bring his creation into loving community with himself. Of course, that’s a lot to get to, so in community group discussion we’ll be focusing on the love within the Trinity, a community into which we are invited as recipients of God’s love and a community that sets the pattern for human existence.

But first, it’s important for us to note that God’s own communal nature predates his work in creation. Michael Reeves has a fantastic little book called Delighting in the Trinity; in it he observes, “Before he ever created, before he ever ruled the world, before anything else, this God was a Father loving his Son…The most foundational thing in God is not some abstract quality, but the fact that he is Father…Since God is, before all things, a Father, and not primarily Creator or Ruler, all his ways are beautifully fatherly…[thus] this God is an inherently outgoing, life-giving God. He did not give life for the first time when he decided to create; from eternity he has been life-giving.”(pages 21-24)

Next week we’ll turn to Genesis 1:26-28 to see how God makes humanity in his image, which reveals how his communal nature is the pattern for our communal nature (thus “It is not good that the man should be alone” Gen 2:18). But there’s even more to it than that! Within the divine community of the Trinity there are distinct persons—Father, Son, and Spirit—with distinct differences (ex. the Son is discernibly not the Father; the Spirit is not the Son) and distinct relationships or roles (ex. the Father relates to the Son as a Father, not as the Spirit or as the Son).

So, way before Adam and Eve were even a twinkle in God’s eye, God existed as a diverse-yet-unified community. It is within this God’s universe as creatures made in this God’s image that we find ourselves. That’s the most fundamental reason we have to discuss diversity in our church—where we reject, ignore, or downplay the diversity of God’s people, we are inevitably spurning the nature and character of God. It would be like looking at a marvelous sunset and saying, “Why does everyone keep talking about this? I don’t see the big deal.” Just like the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19), so does the diverse community of our Father’s family.

So, in discussion we’ll trace something of this route of thinking, from how the pre-creation community of the Trinity helps us understand the God of the Bible, to Jesus’s own description of it as an eternally loving relationship in John 17:24-26, to our invitation into that community (John 17:26), to the ways in which it dictates the way we relate to others. You’ll notice two of those questions closely parallel the Divine Community study guide for this week, which should tee up a good reminder to your group that the guide is a wonderful resource and makes your CG discussions more robust. As a reminder, it’s available on the website and at church on Sunday.

You’ll notice the emphasis in discussion on our experience of the love that Jesus says he receives from the Father and pours into our hearts. This is an excellent way to get our series rolling because, in some respects, love speaks to us at a more primal level. Perhaps more essential to our makeup as human beings is not theological argumentation—if God is communal and we are created in his image, therefore we are to be communal—but loving relationship—God’s love for us changes us and teaches us to love. A foundational component of realizing a Revelation 7 vision of the church is learning who God is and what his love intends to do with us.

Questions for Discussion

• Could someone read Genesis 1:1-3 for us?

• What stood out to you from the passage?

• Before creation, God existed in perfect community between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. How does that help us understand the God of the Bible?

• Could someone read John 17:24-26 for us?

• How does Jesus describe this eternal relationship he had with the Father before creation?

• Look at verse 26—how does it make you feel to know that Jesus wants this love for you?

• How do you think God’s communal nature and love dictates the way we relate to others?

• Prayer prompt: Ask God to perfect his love in us, both as recipients and as ambassadors of his love in the world.