We welcomed spring this past week. The temperatures are warmer, the grass is turning green, and the flowers are beginning to bloom. You have probably mowed your lawn for the first time this season in the last couple of weeks. We just planted a little vegetable garden in our yard.
All of these signs of new life turn my mind to God as Creator. He is the source of everything that is. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1). He is the Creator of human beings (Gen 1:27). He is, indeed, the Creator of all things (John 1:2-3) That means that he is distinct from creation: he made it and rules over it. The term theologians use to describe this is transcendent—he is above creation, greater than it and independent.
But at the same time, God is also very much involved in creation. We realize that in the sense of initially forming everything, of course. But beyond that, existence continues to depend on him (Col 1:15-17). As Paul puts it in his sermon on Mars Hill, In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28); or, to quote the Hebrews’ writer, He upholds the universe by the word of his power (Heb 1:3). The technical term for this is immanent: God remains in his creation. Thus, God is distinct from creation, but it is utterly dependent upon him.
Creation, then, reflects the glory of the Creator. God created humans in particular for my glory, whom I formed and made (Is 43:7). But the entire universe is intended to demonstrate his glory, as the passage heading the article indicates. What does creation show us about God? Primarily, it reveals his power and wisdom: It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. (Jer 10:12). Who could look into space and see the sun, moon, and stars without seeing his power? Who could look at a leaf or a living cell and not see wisdom? His might and his design is beyond our comprehension. When we think on it, that should cause us to praise him!
That leads us to consider what creation has to say about the world itself. Because God created the universe to manifest his glory, we should expect it to fulfill its purpose. And, in fact, we see in Gen 1 that everything he created was good—very good, actually. God delighted in the world he had made. While it is true that sin has marred it, God still cares for and delights in it.
That means that we should see it as good, too. We ought to take pleasure in what God has created. Paul warned against those who forbid marriage—part of what God created in the beginning—and enjoin abstinence from foods. He called that doctrines of demons. Instead, he said, Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. (1 Tim 4:4). God’s created world can be used in sinful and selfish ways, but that danger should not keep us from enjoying it with thanksgiving. We should instead seek to be like the early Christians, who ate their food with glad and generous hearts, always grateful to God, trusting in his provision (Acts 2:46). We took a trip just a few months ago to the mountains of western North Carolina, where we drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway and saw the colors of the changing leaves. How can people see such magnificent beaty and not believe in God? We should express our thanks for those wonders, and we ought to take care of them as good stewards, just as Adam was charged to tend the garden (Gen 2).
That brings us finally to how the concept of God as Creator—and we, consequently, as creatures—should shape us. For one thing, our creaturely status means we have a responsibility to the Creator. Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? (Rom 9:21) God created us with the freedom either to accept or reject him. But a proper understanding of our relationship will lead to our recognition of complete and utter dependence on him. He is the Creator; we are the creatures. He possesses wisdom and power; we are weak and ignorant in comparison. Everything in the world belongs to him; what we possess, we have according to his mercy. How can we not respond to that with thanksgiving, with worship and praise?
That knowledge should also prevent us from elevating anything else to the place only he rightfully deserves. Paul writes about those who engaged in all sorts of sinful behavior, fundamentally because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator (Rom 1:24). How can we ever do that if we truly understand our place? We must not allow anyone or anything to be our god but God.
Finally, we must remember that the Creator is ultimately in control. This is effectively what he reminded Job, when he questioned him about his oversight of the universe (Job 38:1ff). He made all things in this world; he continues to rule over them. We must trust in his wise and benevolent rule.
May we all truly see God as our Creator, appreciate his care over creation, and accept our creaturely status with greater trust in him.