It seems at last like spring is beginning to show its face… just a little. It’s still cold, but getting sunnier! If anyone asks me to choose a favourite season, I can’t do it. I just can’t. They’re all beautiful, and all have their qualities and beauties and I decide that whichever I’m in at the moment is my favourite!
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about nature this week. As I may have mentioned before, this quarter my church’s Bible study topic is all about creation, and what implication that belief has on the rest of your life. It’s funny – I’ve always believed in creation, but I really hadn’t connected it to much beyond that before. I am finding it interesting!
Perhaps it isn’t the most obvious thought, but if you do believe that the world was created by God rather than our existence being a fortunate accident, it does have a huge impact. I know I’ve mentioned before that personally, it gives me a far greater sense of worth and purpose – but I’ve come to understand this week that it can go far beyond that.
(Interestingly, I’ve also seen more than ever before how creation, and the idea of it, truly is a theme throughout the Bible. It’s talked about in Psalms, in the gospels, in Paul’s new testament letters, in Revelation – it’s spoken of and assumed as fact, all the way through. I hadn’t really connected that thought before.)
Passages such as Psalms 24:1-2 – “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,The world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters.” – suggest this sense of ownership. If God created the world, it is his. That idea has several implications, to me. Firstly, coming back to the idea of value and worth – how much do we treasure things that are our own because we’ve made them ourselves? I still have a little wooden bee on my dresser that I made in school – it’s nothing special in itself, but I made it and I’m proud of it! It’s special to me, because I made it myself. How much more does God value us, having created us himself, than if we’d just happened and been taken under his wing?
More than that, imagine you’ve – I don’t know, I was going to say bought a mug, but that’s besides the concept of creating – ok, imagine you’ve been to one of these pottery places and made yourself a cool vase or something! Don’t you take care of it, and look after it, and make sure that it doesn’t get broken? You’ve made it, or even if you’ve paid money for it, you don’t want it to be damaged! I don’t know, for me at least, the idea that God has created us gives me faith that he will also look after us and protect us, because you do look after the things that belong to you.
There are often those big questions in life such as “Why does God let bad things happen?”, which of course are very difficult to answer. I believe that the world was changed when sin entered it – we all know the story of Eve and the serpent and the apple… and this week I’ve been trying to look for the blessings in the bad stuff. It’s always struck me how autumn is a time of things dying – all the plants and trees and leaves. And yet they are so beautiful. Death is bad, and yet I like to believe that God (in the case of autumn) made it beautiful.
Someone at church today made the curious, and interesting point, that death can certainly be a blessing. It’s a fact of life that this world is full of sin and suffering – and there are people who wish to die, to be ‘out of their misery’. I thought it was a really interesting point that, if there were no death, it would be a curse – to live forever in this broken world with pain. (Random; but thinking about animals for a moment – death in the animal kingdom is a source of balance in the world. And those that die give nutrients for the soil… There’s blessings in all of it. I did almost start singing “The Circle of Life”…)
That’s not to say that it’s good to die. But life can become a source of pain, and for those who live a difficult life of suffering, I think it can ultimately be a blessing. I’ve been able to take comfort from this idea, when things such as young people dying happen. I had a friend who died when she was 19, in a car accident. She was one of the most beautiful people I’d ever known, and had so much to look forward to in life. But then, I tried to take comfort from the fact that we had no idea what her life may have held, had she lived. She died in an instant (my father-in-law was involved in the investigation, as a traffic officer), so she didn’t suffer for long. And I thought – who knows. Maybe the next week, she might have been raped. She might have lost her job. She might have fallen ill and suffered. I don’t know. But we have to take what comfort we can in things, and I do try to believe that everything is ultimately for the best. There’s always a blessing to be found, if you look hard enough – or I certainly try, anyway!!
Gosh, I’m running away with myself. Let’s get back to the idea that God created us, and what it means for us. If we belong to God (he made us, he owns us) then we conversely do not belong to ourselves… if that makes sense. Have a look at 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
That’s not to take away any sense of self-worth – we still have autonomy and rule over our own actions. But for me at least, it makes me think more about my own actions. I’m thinking of it like renting a house – what you do in that house is up to you, but you have a responsibility to look after it as set out in your contract. And so if God has given me this body and life, don’t I have a responsibility to him to look after it? If I choose to get not enough sleep, eat a poor diet, not drink enough water, it isn’t just bad for me, but it’s showing a lack of respect for the fact that I in myself am a gift from God. And because all of the above are true (I have a terrible diet, don’t drink nearly enough water and certainly don’t get enough sleep), it’s really made me think about changing my attitudes to those things.
Finally, if I believe in creation, God didn’t just create me, but everyone. And that gives a much greater significance to admonitions like Matthew 22:39, where Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment: “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
If I believe that I have a greater value, or worth, because I am created by God… then I must believe the same of everyone else. If I have been created, everyone has, and so every single person is due the same respect as I would expect myself. We shouldn’t, then, treat other’s as we’d like to be treated ourselves just because it’s a good thing to do – but because they deserve to be treated with the same rights that we expect, every person, because they are just as important and valuable in the world as we each are. If God has created each of us and holds us all in the same value and regard, then there’s no way that I can consider myself more important or deserving of respect or kindness than any other person. I expect (or certainly appreciate!!) respect and kindness being shown to me – who doesn’t?! But if I appreciate it for myself, then I must demonstrate those same actions to every person I come into contact with. Or at least, I believe so.
I don’t know, perhaps none of that is very enlightening at all! And none of what I’ve wondered about here has been particularly new to me, in the sense that… I’ve always believed them, to an extent. I’d just never realised before how tied those beliefs are to the idea of creation, and how far-reaching the impact of a belief in creation goes in my life.
It’s been thought-provoking for me, anyway. Thank you as ever for reading, and thank you for sharing your comments and thoughts – they’re so encouraging to hear.
Here’s to a good week ahead!