Matney: God: ‘I think I can do better than that’
I love the old joke about God creating man. He looked at Adam, the man he created, stroked his chin for a minute and said, “I think I can do better than that.” And, he created Eve. Woman was God’s crowning creation.
Of the many injustices and inequities in our world today, one of the most fundamental and far reaching is the disrespect shown to women everywhere. The April 2020 census in the United States puts our population at 331,449,281 people. Of those, over half of them, almost 160,000,000, are female. Of the 7.9 billion people on the planet, right at half of them are female. This is a very large segment of society to marginalize. We do so to our own diminishment as a nation and a world.
There are many reasons why this happens, but the overarching solution is for men and women to see themselves, and each other, as the exquisite handiwork of God, and cherish the God-honored roles that God has given to each of us. In Ephesians 2:10, for example, we are called God’s “workmanship.” Each of us is a unique, one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted display of God’s creative and loving genius. We should respect and esteem each other because we’re made in the image of God.
Genesis 1:27-28 says, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ’Be fruitful and multiply.’” So, since it takes both men and women to fully express the divine nature of God, it is not surprising then to see God portrayed as both father and mother in Deuteronomy 32:18: “You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”
When men and women are abusive to one another, it is because they do not esteem the image of God in each other. Clearly, men should not feel superior to women and there is no place for men to be abusive toward women. Again, the solution is to rediscover the divine image in each of us.
Sunday was Mother’s Day. At our church, we celebrated the day as Ladies’ and Mother’s Day. We designate it as such because we realize that for many individuals, their own mother has passed on, not everyone had a mother they were fond of, and many women do not have children. So, in our church we recognize it as an opportunity to honor all women. This Sunday we celebrated with small gifts of love for each woman present.
In an effort to rediscover the divine nature of God in the women in our lives, let’s briefly review some of the biblical passages that describe the nature of God. In numerous passages in the Bible, God is portrayed with the love and compassion of a good mother. For example, Deuteronomy 32:11-12 describes God as a mother eagle: “Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions.” And in Matthew 23:37, Jesus compares himself to a mother hen: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
The apostle Paul also likened himself and his ministry to that of a loving mother. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul wrote, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” He wrote in Galatians 4:19-20, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you …” Paul prayed, preached, taught and served, as in labor pains, in order to see people birthed into faith and grow into Christ-like maturity.
If God and Jesus and Paul pointed to mothers as the model for their ministry, shouldn’t we respect, highly esteem and honor mothers and other women also? Sure, we could focus on the human weaknesses, sins and flaws that all women and men have, but that would be to miss the divine image of God in them. That, we must not do.
My own mother, mother of three boys and two girls, maintained a sweet, loving attitude through a very painful divorce from my father. She then maintained godly maturity as a single mom who worked two jobs to care for her children. When she did remarry, she became a loving mother to four children from her husband’s previous marriage. And, then, she maintained her sweet spirit through the pain of cancer until her death in 2018. As a single mother, she completed her high school education, went on to beauty school and ran her own salon for many years. I honor her and the mature heart of Jesus that she consistently displayed throughout her life. It brings me to tears of love and pride as I write these words, missing her even now.
I also have a friend who is one of 15 siblings. He is the middle child, with seven older siblings and seven younger siblings. His mother and father modeled great faithfulness through many years of disabilities. I’ve also known women who never had children. And yet, they poured their lives out in service to God and others as leaders in business and government, as pastors, teachers, nurses, etc. and in ministry to children.
The point of all of this is to honor the amazing and wonderful women around us, who though human, still manage to model so much of the divine nature for the rest of us. I honor my own wife; a mother and grandmother and faithful servant of God and others. When God made Dan, he said, I think I can do better than that, and he made Bilinda! Happy Mother’s Day, dear!
Dan Matney is the pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Avon. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.