Saturday, September 17, 2016

Life--and LIFE--by Linden Malki

Small boy dragging a furry object by the tail across the kitchen floor: "Look, Ma! Somebody threw away a perfectly good cat!"  It's not hard to figure out why the cat wasn't "perfectly good", even though a totally relaxed cat can look scarily like he won't wake up. At some point growing up, we learn the difference between the small boy's cat and the one stretched out on the floor next to my desk right now.  This is one of those concepts that seems simple until you think about it, and try to explain it to a small child.

Where do we first see "life"?  In Genesis 1 we read of the creation of plants that bear seeds and fruit; and then "living creatures" in the sea and on land. And then in Genesis 2:7, we see the specific creation of a man, and the specific giving of the breath of life to the man.  The other side of the coin comes later: the man is told that disobedience to one instruction will result in "dying."  We do not know how much understanding Adam had of the consequence of disobedience; obviously not enough; but then how could they know enough?  We learn more from experience than from words.

For the last hundred years or so, there have been efforts made to come up with a logical, 'evolutionary" explanation of Life, and how it differs from something that is not alive; and to make it even more complicated, how generations of "live" plants and animals appear in what seems to be a consistent pattern. One thing that has made it harder to explain is the discovery of the chemical nature of DNA and other components of living cells, and how complex they are even in the smallest and apparently simplest creatures.  They still haven't come up with any better explanation than the one we start with: life is something that is basic to  the creatures themselves and given by God Himself. In Hebrew, the word for "breath" and "Spirit" are the same (think about how the the English word "inspiration" can mean the physical taking in of air and the awareness of something our minds recognize as above and beyond the physical brain).

We live on two levels: we know that our physical lives are finite; that the end is not "if" but "when and how". But what we see in Jesus is another kind of life. Peter put it like this: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. ... You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God, for 'All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower fall, but the word of the Lord abides forever."" (I Peter 1-2; 23-25)

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