You Were Designed for Spirituality

A Transcendent and Personal Creator

The story of our spirituality can be found only within the biblical storyline, which starts suddenly: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Already in existence prior to matter, space, or time, the eternal, self-existent God creates the universe and all that exists. God “creates, says, sees, separates, names, makes, appoints, blesses, finishes, makes holy, and rests.”[1] God creates out of nothing, forms it according to his purposes, and fills it with plants and animals. God is not like other gods of the ancient Near East. 

Gordon Wenham observes: “God is without peer and competitor. He does not have to establish his power in struggle with other members of a polytheistic pantheon. The sun and moon are his handiwork, not his rivals.”[2] The true God is not the sky, sun, moon, water, trees, animals, or anything else created; God creates them, and they are subject to him. The creation is neither God nor a part of God; he is absolute and has independent existence, and creation has derived existence from him and continually depends on him as its sustainer (cf. Acts 17:25–28). The transcendent Creator is a king who accomplishes his will by his word and names the elements of his creation (Gen. 1:5). 

The Creator is also personal. On each day of creation God is personally involved in every detail, crafting them in a way that pleases him and benefits his creatures. On the sixth day, he personally creates man in his own image, breathing life into him. The personal God has made humans to be personal as well, with the ability to relate to him, live in community with one another, and have dominion over creation. As Carson reminds, “We are accorded with an astonishing dignity” and have “implanted within us a profound capacity for knowing God intimately.”[3] By creating us in his image, God distinguishes us from the rest of creation and establishes that he is distinct from us—we are not gods but creatures made in his image.

God’s goodness is reflected in the goodness of his creation and reinforced in the steady refrain, “And God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25; see also Gen. 1:4), even “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Material creation reflects God’s goodness, which is evident also in his generous provisions of light, land, vegetation, animals, and “creeping” things. These are blessings given for humanity’s benefit, as are the ability to relate to God, fertility to procreate, and authority to use the abundant provisions for man’s own good. By the seventh day, God has finished his creative work, rests, and blesses and sanctifies the day as holy, as a Sabbath to be kept. In doing so, God displays his joy and satisfaction in his creation, his celebration of completion, and he commemorates this special event.[4]

God's Provision and Design for Man

Genesis 2:4–25 focuses on God’s formation of man and woman and his provision of the garden of Eden as a place for them in which to live and work.[5] As Allen Ross summarizes, “God has prepared human beings, male and female, with the spiritual capacity and communal assistance to serve him and to keep his commands so that they might live and enjoy the bounty of his creation.”[6] Man is formed from the dust of the ground but is more than dust—his life comes directly from the very breath of God (Gen. 2:7). 

In planting the garden and moving man there, the Creator and covenant Lord provides a wonderful and sacred space for humans to enjoy a harmonious relationship with him, each other, the animals, and the land. The garden highlights God’s presence with man. God establishes the terms for living in his presence and graciously puts forward only one prohibition: man shall not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Contrary to what might be expected, man is allowed to eat of the tree of life (which confers immortality) but not of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which gives access to wisdom), “for that leads to . . . an independence of the creator incompatible with the trustful relationship between man and his maker which the story presupposes.”[7] Because God’s generosity to man is so abundant, his prohibition would not seem difficult to accept.

God lovingly notices that “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18) and generously meets man’s need by creating woman as a complementary and intimate companion united with him for life together. Genesis 2 ends positively and, given the beliefs of ancient Israel, surprisingly: “The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25). In the garden, nakedness is not reason for shame but points to the man and woman’s innocence and the unspoiled delight they have in each other.[8]

The good God creates a good world for the good of his creatures. Humans too are created good and blessed beyond measure, being made in God’s image, with an unhindered relationship with God, and with freedom. In the beginning, God creates humans in his image and designs them for spirituality—to enjoy a loving and personal relationship with the covenant Lord, as well as holistic relationships with themselves, one another, and creation.

Content adapted from Biblical Spirituality by Christopher W. Morgan. This article first appeared on; used with permission. 


  1. C. John Collins, Genesis 1–4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary(Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2006), 71. 
  2. Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, WBC (Waco, TX: Word, 1987), 37–38.
  3. D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 205. 
  4. Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1996), 114. 
  5. Collins, Genesis 1–4, 39, 101. 
  6. Ross, Creation and Blessing, 127
  7. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 87. 
  8. Ibid., 88; Collins, Genesis 1–4, 139

Christopher W. Morgan; Justin L. McLendon

Christopher W. Morgan (PhD, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary) is a professor of theology and the dean of the School of Christian Ministries at California Baptist University. He is the author or editor of over twenty books, including several volumes in the Theology in Community series.

Justin L. McLendon (PhD, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary) is assistant professor of theology at Grand Canyon University and Grand Canyon Theological Seminary in Phoenix, Arizona, where he also serves as the department chair for the seminary's master of arts programs. He is a managing editor of the Journal of Biblical and Theological Studies

Related Resources

Card image cap Life

An Open Letter to Those Debilitated by Their Sexual Sin

Dear friend, What do you do when you are still struggling? What do you do when repeated failure, guilt, and shame weigh heavily on your...

Card image cap Life

An Open Letter to the Suffering Christian

By the comfort of his presence and sympathy, he intends to draw you out and draw you to Himself.​

Card image cap Life

Life after the Death of a Son: What I have Learned about God’s Calling

I asked God to take me and made preparations. The few people who knew looked at me with either pity or apprehension.​