by Bob Wickizer

Get Your Own Dirt
Rev. Bob Wickizer
Isaiah 45:1-7; Psalm 96; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22
17 October, 1999

There is a joke circulating these days that pokes fun at the modern scientific understanding of creation. The tale starts with a group of scientists who are fed up with the literal interpretation of Genesis and the creation story. So the scientists send an emissary to talk with God about the whole thing. They plan to entrap God by having a "human- making contest." The scientists think that they have figured it all out and that they can create a human being faster and better than God can. God says to the scientist, "You go first" and the scientist bends over to scoop up some dirt. At this point God interjects, "Oh no, that's my dirt, you get your own dirt."

As funny as this little story may be, it exactly parallels our Gospel today while at the same time giving us much food for thought on leadership and spirituality. You see the scientists in this story are stuck on their own power in the form of the knowledge that they supposedly "discovered" and therefore own. The arrogant scientists have created their own little world where there is no room for a real God but only a puppet god who takes some worldly form and enters contests. And the contest itself shows that the scientists can only think in terms of win-lose and power as their ultimate quest.

So God agrees to this silly contest. God sends an emissary too to be present with the scientist. God of course sees the malice behind the scientists' proposal and dismisses the contest by challenging their assumptions. The scientist needs to start with some raw material. God does not need raw material. It's an ancient doctrine called "Creation from nothing." The contest is dismissed as meaningless (and hopefully humorous) because the scientists asked the wrong question. God sends them packing with the command to "Go get your own dirt."

Now please don't think I am down on scientists. I am on ...

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