Oct 20 2010

Christ and Creation

RRG Auxier Ridge 277Tonight I will begin teaching a study on the Gospel of John.   It has been said of this Gospel that in it a child can wade and an elephant swim.  This means it is a book that is at one and the same time simple and complex.  Anyone who has ever studied John’s Gospel will know what I mean.

John begins his Gospel not with stories of Jesus’ birth, like Matthew and Luke, but with beautiful words that point to the preexistence of Christ.  In words reminiscent of Genesis 1:1-2 he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.” Then in verse 3 he boldly proclaims, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  In this incredible text we are told not only that Jesus has always existed but that he was instrumental in the creation of the world.

John emphasized that the Word is responsible for everything that exists.  He states this in a positive (“Through him all things were made”) and negative (“without him nothing was made that has been made”) manner.  John’s teaching is consistent with what the apostle Paul wrote: “…yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Cor. 8:6)  God the Father and God the Son both play a vital role in Creation.

RRG Haystace Rock 192In John 1:3 there is an interesting change in verb tenses.  Biblical scholar Leon Morris notes that “were made” regards Creation in its totality, as one act, but “has been made” conveys the thought of the continuing existence of created things.  There are implications that come with the change in verb tenses.  Morris says this means “What we see around us did not come into existence apart from the Word, any more than what appeared in the first day of creation.”

To me this is most significant when it comes to “seeing Creation.”  It means that all around us Christ is at work in what he has made and is making, and that includes us as well.  The story of Creation is not just an ancient one, it is an ongoing story—one that we participate in every day.   We can actually witness the Creator’s work in progress!  How awesome is that?!


(Both images above were taken this past Saturday at the Red River Gorge Geological Area in Kentucky.)

Oct 17 2010

Always On the Alert

RRG creek leaves 540This past week I started reading Malcolm Clemens Young’s new book, The Spiritual Journal of Henry David Thoreau.  Like many nature enthusiasts, I have been a fan of Thoreau’s writings for several years.  This book focuses on Thoreau’s spirituality.

According to Young, “For Thoreau, religious faith should be a joyful gratitude rooted in an appreciation for the gifts we receive.  We perfect our lives by deepening our attentiveness to the beauty of nature.”  As anyone who has ever read Walden knows, Thoreau was certainly a careful observer of nature.   It was here he expected to find God.  Thoreau more than once described himself as a watchman whose “profession is to be always on the alert to find God in nature—to know his lurking places.”  In another entry in his Journal he writes, “How to live—How to get the most life!….That is my every day business….The art of spending a day.  If it is possible that we may be addressed—it behooves us to be attentive.  If by watching all day and all night—I may detect some trace of the Ineffable—then will it not be worth the while to watch?  Watch and pray without ceasing….If by watching a whole year on the city walls I may obtain a communication from heaven, shall I not do well to shut up my shop and turn a watchman?”

RRG Gladie 483Thoreau’s call to attentiveness still needs to be heard.  He felt that many Christians focused their attention so much on heaven that they failed to experience God here and now.   That hasn’t changed.  So many believers fail to see in nature a source of inspiration and revelation.  They either don’t recognize or have forgotten that the Creator longs to make Himself known through that which He has made.

In one Journal entry Thoreau wrote, “God is in the breeze and whispering leaves and we shall hear him.”   I thought about that yesterday when I was hiking in the Red River Gorge Geological Area.  I’m convinced that God can be seen and heard by those who will remain attentive.  It is my hope and prayer that I, like Thoreau, might be a good watchman who is “always on the alert to find God in nature—to know his lurking places.”


(Both images were taken yesterday at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.)