Created for Christ
Five big reasons why a Biblical understanding of creation is vital for Christians living in London today:
TO ENJOY THE BLESSINGS OF GOD’S CREATION
Understanding creation helps us enjoy God’s blessings according to his Word with thankful prayer – “for everything God created is good” (1 Timothy 4).
Understanding God’s creation helps us learn to enjoy science that uncovers our creator’s genius in far-flung galaxies and genetic coding; enjoy the arts that display his creativity bestowed in composers, musicians and actors; enjoy sport in which God grants joy in health and achievement and competition; enjoy sex within the intimacy of marriage to share in God’s creative pleasure; enjoy food – whether a Sunday roast with friends or fine cuisine in a Gordon Ramsay restaurant.
Each is a foretaste of God’s wedding feast. Indeed, every David Attenborough special celebrating the wonders of the natural world proclaims the grace of our creator, for “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19) with a song that can never be silenced by hostile evolutionary theory.
While the world may be hedonistic and scorn its creator, and some churches are ascetic and scorn his kindness, a biblical doctrine of creation will help our Co-Mission churches to enjoy the blessings of God’s creation.
TO GRASP THE HORROR OF OUR SIN
We displace our creator in our sinful devotion to created things: whether to career andstatus or wealth and comfort, to our children’s education or our grandchildren’s achievements, to our entertainment and sexual excitement or our physical appearance and popular image: we turn “good” things into “god” things that consume immensely sacrificial devotion but cannot satisfy or save us.
We discover what really functions as our “god” in what we day-dream about having, wherewe turn in trouble, or what we’re devastated to lose. If we drool over Grand Designs, throw cash at every problem and cannot contemplate downsizing our accommodation then whatever we sing in church, our god is really money. The folly of such idolatry becomes obvious when we don’t just ignore our creator but try to replace him. As Jesus predicted, the tenants of God’s vineyard said, “This the heir! Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance!” (Matthew 21).
Now Western culture and worldly churches proudly claim, “we can be what we want: we choose our own morality, our own version of marriage, our own gender: no-one tells us what to believe – for truth doesn’t matter – or how to behave – there’s no right or wrong! We just choose what works for us, because we’re worth it!
We’re like the residents of Ashurst Wood village who in Jan. 2000 declared themselves “The People’s Republic of Ashurst Wood Nations State” (PRAWNS for short) independent of the British government. They issued passports and set up road-blocks under a retired army colonel. The rebellion collapsed when they couldn’t issue passports quickly enough for all the postmen and milkmen they needed. Tragically that’s how the world and worldly churches treat our creator: but a biblical doctrine of creation will help our Co-Mission churches to grasp the horror of our sin.
TO CHERISH BEING HUMAN
The Bible celebrates that however physically broken, emotionally damaged or mentally ill, every human being is precious to God, for, “you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139). We are each lovingly fashioned, physically and psychologically, in our mother’s womb, according to the Image of God who is Christ. We’re designed to be like God in being personal, plural, responsible and receptive to his word and to enjoy becoming like Christ.
So we love everyone in every way we can, especially our neighbours, especially the needy and especially with the gospel, the most precious gift of all. While those on the left dispose of human beings in abortion and euthanasia and those on the right despise human beings in their racism and classism, a biblical doctrine of creation will help our Co- Mission churches to appreciate others and to cherish being human.
TO STIMULATE OUR LONGING FOR THE NEW CREATION
The Genesis account of creation at the beginning of history not only explains our origins but also prepares us for the Revelation account of the new creation at the end of history for which we’re reborn through the gospel. Reading of Adam and Eve walkingwith their creator in the garden of Eden with its rivers and tree of life stirs our longing for the joy of the new Jerusalem in reigning with our redeemer: sustained by the river of the water of life (abundant life in the Spirit) and by the tree of life (the healing of the cross). Therefore, Jesus said, “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth …but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6) While worldly people and churches labour for the temporary trinkets of London culture, a biblical doctrine of creation will revive in our churchesa commitment to work for the new creation: working for compassion and justice in society now with a sober awareness that this world can never be healed or fixed but will have tobe destroyed and renewed, as Jesus was in his death and resurrection. What will last forever is the holiness with which we work and the eternal life which we begin when we are united by faith in the gospel with the resurrected Christ.
But above all, creation teaches us…
TO GLORIFY CHRIST
For the Colossian church tempted by false teachers to supplement faith in Christ withtheir human ideology, religious tradition and visionary experiences, Paul begins to celebrate the suffciency of Christ by exploring his magnificence as our creator. Paul mentions “all things” seven times and gives examples including those who do evil whom he intends to judge: “things in heaven [like angels] and on earth [like terrorists] visible [like the planets] or invisible [like witchcraft] whether thrones [of Saudi Kings] or the powers [of Microsoft], or rulers of nations [like Kim Yong Un] or authorities [like Islamic fundamentalism]”
Nothing exists unless Christ creates and sustains it.
And his sovereign purpose is amplified in two ways. Firstly: “so that in all things he might have the supremacy” (verse 18) God’s purpose in creation is Christ’s supremacy. As loving parents might help their son buy a flat in London and encourage him to decorate and choose furniture to make it his own home, so God the Father’s purpose in creation is for his Son to design his own home, decorating the sky with stars and the earth with people, as his own home in which we are privileged guests and he is supreme so we serve him.
Secondly: ”to reconcile to himself all things” The second glorious purpose of creation is Christ’s reconciliation of all things. This is stunning: our reconciliation to God by his bloody death for our sin on the cross is not solving a fault in creation, but fulfilling the purpose of creation. God created us knowing we’d rebel and need saving so that Christ would eternally have a grateful people, his loving bride.
The story is told of a little girl cruelly snatched from her parents on a holiday cruise by Somali pirates demanding a huge ransom for her safe return: the parents eventually scraped together everything they had to free their daughter. When the traumatic exchange had finallybeen made and they were finally flying home in safety, the little girl lifted her head and was heard to say to her parents, “you have loved me twice: you made me and then you paid for me: so I am yours twice over”! Likewise, Christ has twice loved us in both creating us and reconciling us: we are his twice over.
Unlike the world and worldly churches that neither worship nor love Jesus a biblical understanding of creation will help our Co-Mission churches to worship Christ forhis supremacy and to love Christ for his reconciliation, filled with joyful delight to glorify Christ for his creation and his cross.