by: Joe Leavell
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
Biblical counseling begins right here with this very first verse of the Bible. Not only counseling, but Christianity in general and all of life in particular, begins right here in this exact spot. Our perspective on counseling individuals begins with God. This means that when we meet together with a counselee individually or a couple in marriage counseling, we begin from the framework that God exists, that He is their Creator, and that we are accountable to this God. Is that a “duh” kind of statement and completely unnecessary? You would think so, but this obvious declaration about God is absolutely vital in giving good counsel. Let’s look for a moment into Scripture’s first verse that informs everything a biblical counselor says and does.
In the beginning, God…
This first verse is the very first sentence in a book of 50 chapters, within a larger book compiled of 66 different books written by at least 40 different authors over the span of 1,500 plus years. Notice it does not say, “In the beginning, man.” Is that significant? Guess what. This may come as a shock to some. The story of the universe is not about you. This verse begins the unfolding of the true story of the world…God’s story. You are not the main character in the story. This truth is fundamental to biblical counseling and Christianity itself because it means that rather than merely helping you make sense of the story that is you, we want to help you make sense of the story of God, where God is in the leading role. This character who holds the leading role in the story that unfolds after this one verse has always existed from eternity past, will always exist in eternity future, knows all there is to know, holds all of the power, exists outside of our understanding of space so that He is in all places at once, is never tired, is complete in and of Himself.
The Bible does not even attempt to prove the point that God exists. It merely states that at the beginning of time, God was already there. It assumes we are not willfully ignorant of the truth that is ingrained on our very souls. One reason that the concept of God’s existence should be so blatantly obvious to us is because God created us with the ability to grasp His eternality and His power simply from observation of this marvelous world that we inhabit (Rom. 1:20). Scripture is so strong on insisting that God exists that it calls the darkened hearts of those who deny His existence, “foolish” (Rom. 1:21). People must deny reality and must lie to their own consciences in order to believe that there is no God.
God created the heavens and the earth.
God is the Master builder of the most amazing Universe that man could behold in wonder in the night sky. He is the unrivaled and matchless King of the Universe. And He is good. He is love. He is just and righteous. While the story of God is a celebration of His glory and we are not the main character, mankind gets to play a very important part. God formed our ancestors, Adam and Eve, placed them in the Garden of Eden, and gave them instruction for how to live in this world He made. He created them to reflect His own image and mankind lived in harmony and peace with God, talking with Him and communing with Him because they reflected their created purpose. God loves mankind to the extent that when Adam and Eve chose to question His character, disobey Him, and chose to believe that they could find fulfillment in something apart from Him, He chose to redeem mankind with His own blood. God sent the Son to die so that we might have redemption and be restored to the creative purpose in which He made us in the first place. This Hero of the story is the One who will one day make every wrong right and will rule and reign as the completely Sovereign King of the Universe.
This same God rightly knows that He is the most powerful and most beautiful thing in the universe and that to ascribe that kind of worth to some other creature would be a lie. For our own good, because He correctly understands that He alone is the best good that He could give us, He commands us to worship and honor Him truthfully…as our God. Why? Because life is about Him and He invites us to join Him in the story that has been going on from the very beginning where He was already there.
If you do not start with Genesis 1:1 as the main premise in counseling, you start with the wrong foundation. Rather than God, you will be the center hero of your own story. Someone or something else and something less will be your “idol” that you live for. You will, like Adam and Eve, trade in the true story of the Universe for a lie. But God went to great lengths to buy you back from this lie, securing it in the blood of His dear Son, Jesus Christ. Why? So that you might draw near to Him in a real relationship full of peace, love, and great joy that cannot be found anywhere apart from Him. A biblical counselor’s job is to present this story and ask…will you believe in this God? Will you trade in your story in order to place your faith in the God who exists and who desires you to draw near to Him?
The writer of Hebrews sums the matter up perfectly:
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)