Ministry Resources

Holy Separation

Author: Jim Thornber

God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness

. . . water from water . . . the day from the night (Gen. 1:4, 6, 14, NIV).

Gen. 1:1 tells us that in the beginning, whenever and wherever that was, “God created.” The fact that God created was not an accident. It wasn’t a random incident or a coincidence of random molecules coming together and then exploding in a tremendous bang to form the universe, after which God looked and said, “Hmm, what’s going on down there?” The creation of the universe was an intentional work of God, not a series of random and fortuitous events that ultimately led to the diverse world that we know today.

As part of God’s plan of creation, He separated like items: light from light, waters from waters, woman from man. All these works He called “good.” It is good for day and night to be separate, for there to be a sky and an ocean, animals and vegetation, a man and a woman (Ps. 104:19-30).

The rationale behind these separations was to fill the formless and void earth.

God expanded His creations, filled in the gaps, left nothing without a place or a purpose.

For example, God separated the woman from the man so that Adam would no longer be alone, but be filled and fulfilled, by his uniting with Eve. In the economy of God, separation brings fulfillment, completion, and unity. With man, however, it is a different story.

When man decides to separate items, he usually does so based on his own likes and dislikes, and the result is a reversal of the voids and gaps God filled in at the creation of the world. The first separation came with God, when man separated himself from obedience. Then man separated himself from others. Adam was the first to do so, when, after eating from the Tree of Knowledge, he moved from calling Eve “bone of my bones” (Gen. 2:23) to accusing her of causing his disobedience–“The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Gen. 3:12, NIV).

The key idea here is that God separated, but He did not segregate.

Separation prepares items to be apart for a common good; segregation implies isolation from the main body. Since God made man in His own image, then man must also have the ability to create. Man’s creative abilities, however, should imitate the creative processes of God. In other words, our creations should fill the voids in our world, not create new voids. Anytime our separations lead to segregation, especially among people, we’ve missed the character of God.

Perhaps this is why Paul was so keen to use the analogy of the human body (1 Cor. 12:12-31). I’m sure the Corinthians were adept at segregating themselves into various groups, especially the “Haves” and the “Have Nots” (1 Cor. 11:17-22). But the purpose of the body of Christ is to fill the voids in the world due to the sin of Adam, not create a society of churchgoers who once again create their own set of voids.

This concept gives me pause whenever I want to categorize certain places or individuals. Do I want to separate like items so that needs may be met–such as having a youth group at a church to address the specific needs of that age–or am I intimidated by differences I don’t understand, so I seek to separate myself from those things that make me uncomfortable?

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