God made us for unity

Jeremy Sarber

Throughout Genesis 1, we read of God bringing the natural world into existence, piece by piece. The Bible tells us what God said and did as he formed the universe and everything in it. At certain milestones, he examines what he created and says, It is good.”

Something fascinating changes, however, when he creates the first people. He finishes creating the animals when there is a sudden and unexplained pronoun change in the text. God says, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (Ge 1:26). Then, we read, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Ge 1:27).

It would seem someone joined God in the creation of male and female. Who was it? Some have speculated it was the angels, but I have another theory. The first chapter of John’s Gospel gives us a vital clue. John writes:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3)

Who is the Word? The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father (Jn 1:14). The Word is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. John refers to him as the Word because his Jewish audience would have understood any reference to God’s Word as a manifestation of God and his will. God always revealed himself through his words. Jesus is the clearest manifestation of God and his will. If we want to know God, look no further than Christ, his Son.

If Christ was with God in the beginning and God created all things through him, then why don’t the first several passages of Genesis reflect that? Why doesn’t it say, In the beginning, God and the Word created the heavens and the earth”? Why did Moses, the author of Genesis, wait until verse 26 to allude to Christ’s presence at creation?

I believe there was something special and truly unique about the creation of human beings. The pronoun change in Genesis 1 implies that much. Not only did God make a distinct announcement before creating people, but he also makes it a point to express the cooperation between himself (the Father), the Son, and, undoubtedly, the Spirit. The creation of humans was not like the creation of everything else. There was something quite significant about it.

My theory is this: God created humanity to enjoy the same degree of peace and unity that exists between the Holy Trinity. He made us as close to one another as the Father is to his Son and Spirit.

Notice what happened to the relationship between Adam and Eve once they sinned. God tells Eve, Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you (Ge 3:16). Most Bible translations say, Your desire shall be toward your husband,” but the text of the ESV seems to capture the essential meaning better than others. Sin caused perpetual conflict between men and women. Furthermore, it created conflict throughout the entire human race.

Despite the divisions caused by sin, people remained relatively intact as a unified people. Genesis 11:1 says, The whole earth had one language and the same words. The ability to communicate was instrumental in minimizing division, but they continued to sin. They continued to disobey God, so God confused the language of all the earth (Ge 11:9). In a judgment against their sin, he took away their ability to communicate so freely. Sin effectively destroys unity.

Let’s jump ahead to the New Testament. Jesus comes to the earth to save people from their sins. He dies to make atonement, rises from the grave, and ascends into heaven. Meanwhile, he continually promises to supply the redeemed family of God with his Spirit once he is gone. Just before his arrest, he prays these words:

I do not ask for these only [his first disciples], but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:20-23)

For what did Jesus pray? He prayed for unity. He prayed that all believers would become one just as he and God the Father are one. In other words, the plan of redemption was reversing the effects of sin. Sin caused division between people. Salvation brings us together.

In Acts 2, look what happened when the Spirit of God poured out on the people:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, [the disciples] were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues or languages as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. (Acts 2:1-6)

The Spirit caused a complete reversal of what happened at the tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Suddenly and miraculously, everyone could communicate with one another even though they were from all over the world and spoke different languages. God’s grace was undoing the curse of sin by bringing people together. It was re-harmonizing humanity just as God created us. He created us to share the degree of unity enjoyed by the Trinity, but sin profoundly disrupted that. God is reversing that through salvation.