Saturday, December 17, 2022

Creation: The Amazing and Awe-Inspiring Work of His Hands

How's your Saturday going? Mine's been fantastic. Here's what I had for lunch today -- homemade soup with homemade bread, courtesy of my daughter. Thank you!

I am finally fully healed up after a week-long head cold. Which meant ... drum roll please ... that I could get back to the gym today for an upper body workout. Probably the easiest workout of my life but I was out there and happy as all get out. 

Earlier still I spent time in 1 John. In chapters 1-2, John has been dealing with a delicate subject: the sinning Christian. In 2:1, he tells us that the whole purpose of his writing this letter is to keep his readers from sinning. The full forgiveness of the believer's sins through the blood of Christ (1:9) should not allow him to think lightly of them. The Christian is not to sin, and yet sinning is inevitable, is it not? And it is these two concepts that John is trying to balance here. Christians can either become too lenient or too severe toward sin. Being too lenient encourages sinning because we can always "1 John 1:9 it," right? On the other hand, we can be guilty of the other extreme, which either denies the possibility of a Christian sinning or else refuses him forgiveness when he does.

In 1 John 2:15-16, John seems to give us a summary of what he considers, let's say, to be the essential marks of a sinful life. He mentions "the lust of the flesh," "the lust of the eyes," and "the boastful pride of life." The first describes sins that result from our fallen, sinful nature. These sins derive from within. The second indicates sins that assault us from the outside -- from what our eyes find pleasing or attractive. An obvious example is David's desire for Bathsheba. But is that all? Could this temptation also be an inordinate attraction to things that are truly good and beautiful? Robert Law, in his commentary on 1 John called The Tests of Life, thought so and spoke of "the love of beauty divorced from the love of goodness." As I have discussed elsewhere, there's a very fine line between appreciating nature and inordinately loving it (Enjoying Nature Without Worshipping It). Could John here be implicitly issuing a warning against the love of nature? In my own life I think it's too easy to enjoy nature almost to the point of allowing God's creation to become a substitute for him in my affections. It becomes one of the "gods" I spoke about yesterday. The key, I think, is to approach all encounters with creation mindfully and prayerfully. "Thank you, God, for this beauty," I often say when I'm outdoors on a run or a hike. I say this because it's so easy to go outdoors and not experience God's presence at all. We take his creation for granted. 

If for no other reason, we need to spend time outdoors for the opportunity to worship the Creator while enjoying his creation. Try that today. Take a stroll through creation's art gallery and praise the Artist as you go. Worship only him, but do not feel guilty because you are blown away by the work of his hands.