A sign of a healthy church is a tangible belief that together they are God’s plan to rescue and bless His world. This causes it to behave like it’s true.
This is central to the message of the book of Genesis (and the biblical story as a whole).
Genesis chapters 1 through 11 focus on a higher-level perspective of God and the whole world. Chapters 1-2 deal with creation. God’s purpose was to extend His character and His rule to a new territory through image bearers (Gen. 1:26-27).
The greatness of a King is displayed by enlarging the territory they rule over. His desire was for a community of humans to do that by reflecting His character and ruling the earth in ways that would bring order and beauty as life flourished and expanded.
This is what it means to be “blessed.” It means to be a part of expanding life throughout the earth (Gen. 1:22). But this only happens when humans trust God’s definitions of good and bad instead of their own.
Eve and Adam chose to be independent from God and each other and go about building God’s world with their own human life and definitions of good and bad as their source. Godly relationships were the main casualty of this choice.
Chapters 3-11 chronicle how humans went about filling the world with violence and corruption that culminated in the city of Babylon. But even though humans have rebelled, the book communicates there is still hope for the world God made. He promises to rescue them and it would somehow be through a descendant that comes from the woman (Gen 3:15).
God’s ultimate passion is for His eternal purpose. It would not be ruined by the human rebellion. He would somehow still work through humans to accomplish it. But at this point in the biblical story, we don’t yet know specifically how.
Chapter 12 is a key step forward in God’s plan to do this. The central message of the book is here. It’s that what happened between God and His world would somehow be resolved through Abraham’s family. The rest of the book focuses on this one family.
God calls Abraham to travel to a new land the He promises will be his one day. In that land, God promises to make Abraham into a great nation and to bless him, which is an echo back to the original blessing God gave to humanity in the Garden. The reason He does this is so that “in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen. 12:1-3)
As the book continues, we see how the family keeps failing to trust God. But He repeatedly is faithful to His promise.
The book culminates in the story of Joseph and his statement to his brothers…”You planned this for evil, but God planned it for good to save many lives.” (Gen. 50:20) This basically summarizes the story of God and humanity after the Fall. Humans repeatedly fail to trust God, but God is faithful to rescue and bless despite their failure. He’s going to take their failure and weave something good out of it.
From this failing family would come the descendant that would rescue and bless them, so that they could extend that blessing to the entire earth.
That descendant was Jesus Christ. His church is Abraham’s family (Galatians 3:6-9, Romans 4). Just like Eve was Adam in a different form, so the Church is Jesus Christ in a different form. He and She together are God’s plan and vehicle to rescue and bless His world. Together they are the second Adam and Eve.
They are a community of humans that reflect His character and rule on the earth in ways that bring order and beauty to cause God’s Life to flourish and expand.
A healthy church recognizes the responsibility they have and lives with a sense of urgency regarding its role in the world. You won’t catch it just going through religious motions. God’s purpose from before the Fall has not changed. His passion for it has not changed.
A healthy church shares that passion and participates in God’s plan. His image bearers are His representatives. They have been chosen and have the responsibility to extend God’s blessing throughout the earth.