Feb 2 2014

How Noble Are You?

e_DSC0863In Philippians 4:8 the apostle Paul gives a list of things he encourages us to think about.  He writes, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praise-worthy—think about such things.”  I preached a sermon this morning based on this passage.  When I did research for it I discovered something very interesting.  The word Paul used for “noble” has a long history.  It eventually came to mean what we think it does but in ancient literature it was used to refer to the gods and the temples of the gods.  William Barclays says “when used to describe a man, it described “a person who…moves throughout the world as if it were the temple of God.”

In my estimation someone who can move throughout the world as if it were the temple of God is noble indeed.  It has been noted at this site numerous times that the earth ought to be viewed as the temple of God.  The Psalmist boldly declared that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” (24:1)  For this reason we should understand that the ground beneath our feet is sacred. The whole earth is a holy temple because it belongs to God and due to the fact that God inhabits it.  A new heaven and a new earth may await us down the road but here and now we are standing on holy ground.

e_DSC0897If we recognize that the earth is the temple of God we will be more open to the presence of God in our lives.  It will likely lead us to live with a greater sense of gratitude.  I also have a feeling that if we moved throughout the world as if it were the temple of God that we would be far more prone to treat it with respect and attempt when we can to protect it.  For all of these reasons I think we should all strive to be “noble” men and women.

–Chuck

(I took the two images above this past Friday at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.)


Jan 15 2012

Creation and Holiness

Can enjoying nature help lead one to be holy?  Perhaps so.  In his book, Consider the Lilies, T. M. Moore makes the argument that since Creation is a form of revelation like the Scriptures then it must have as one of its divine purposes our sanctification.  He explains it this way: “If we are daily more and more conscious of the presence of the Lord around us, and enthralled with the revelation of His glory and grandeur, we will be less inclined to follow those paths that we know to be displeasing to Him.” 

Moore goes on to use God pointing out the many marvels of nature to Job as one of the tools He used to set Job back on the right path.  He writes, “The majesty, beauty, power, and intimate care of God revealed in the things He has made, and daily sustains, brings Job to his knees and turns him from sliding into sin to pursuing holiness before the Lord.  It is reasonable to suppose that disciplining ourselves to discern the glory and grandeur of God in general revelation can have the same benefit for us, thus fulfilling one of God’s purposes in so making Himself known.”

I must admit I had never previously given much thought to the idea of God using Creation to make us holy.  I certainly knew that the beauty and wonder of God’s handiwork often leads me to worship and praise Him but the thought of Creation turning me from sin and toward the pursuit of holiness is something new.  It does, however, make sense and now that I think about it I can see how Creation has operated in this way in my life for many years.

I know from experience that I have often moved towards sin as a result of what someone has humorously called “stinking thinking.”  I suppose in some sense, all sin originates in the mind.  I also know from experience that being outdoors and paying attention to God’s Creation helps me to think more clearly.  When I’m enjoying nature I’m not thinking about money, power or sex—things that often get us moving in the wrong direction.  When I’m enjoying or pondering the wonders of Creation I’m not worrying about the things I tend to worry about.  Worry happens to be something else that leads me in the wrong direction.  In looking back I can now see how many times “seeing Creation” has kept me from “stinking thinking” and thus away from sin.  It has forced my attention time and time again to God and thus toward holiness.

The apostle Paul knew that what we think about will have a profound effect on our lives.  That’s why he said, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)  I’m sure Paul had a lot of different things in mind when he gave this list but I cannot help but believe that he would include here the wonders of God’s Creation.  There truly are benefits in thinking about “such things.”

–Chuck

(I took the top image in Zion National Park.  I took the bottom two at Arches National Park.  Both parks are located in southern Utah.)