Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christ as Creator

Christmas Eve we talked about Jesus Christ's three tiny tasks at the beginning of everything: creation, life, and light. In other words, through his son Jesus Christ, the Word, God created everything (creation), sustains everything (life), and sanctifies everything—cleans it all—makes it holy (light). Tonight I want to talk a little more in depth about the first of these: Christ as Creator.

Thinking of Christ as creator helps us see Jesus in a different light, and it helps us see creation itself in a different light. Many times in the gospels he speaks about nature, makes a reference to nature, or an analogy to nature. When we realize that this is the guy who AUTHORED nature—he is not talking to us like a detached human. No, he was the one who made these things! When he walks about salt and light, birds and lilies, logs and specks, dogs and swine, fish and snakes, sheep and wolves, grapes and thorns, he is talking about things that he has had intimate contact with. He was the agent through which all of these things were created. His analogies suddenly have a deeper authority.

Creation is seen in a new light, too. Creation suddenly becomes a testimony to the Lord's power and love. Think of all the psalms where creation cries out in joy to the Lord. We're not just making a clever literary device. These aren't just metaphors or personification. These things were created by the Lord, and if they had voices they would cry out for joy to the Lord. So much more so should WE cry out with joy to the Lord for having created us.

I know a man who loves nature. He loves to hike. He travels around the country and goes hiking in many different places. He loves to sleep outdoors. He looks forward to each year's big trip, and he plans and he packs his things, and he purchases new things for survival out in the wilderness. He does not believe in God. When he looks at nature, the most profound thing that comes to his mind is that 100 years from now we will all be dead. Nature becomes the religion, and mankind's place in it becomes bleak and insignificant. God's place is not even there.

To Christians, wherever we turn is Christ. He authored everything natural we see, and if we look closely, we can see part of his mind, the creative part that conceived of the odd and beautiful things we encounter each day. The cold abstraction of my friend's “natural religion,” which never converted a heart nor amended a life, does not chill our thoughts. To the Christian, all science becomes lighted up by the redeemer's presence, for God did not just redeem men but nature, too. We look around and we see the stage where the great play of love is played.

Think of how much effort goes into the sets of a play or a movie. When I went to college, we had experimental plays without scenery. What happened when we watched them? We had to fill in our own scenery in our minds. This helps the mind focus on the characters, but then everything becomes about the characters. This is the opposite of natural religion, where man and God aren't even there. A religion without scenery puts man as the center, and at the same time it puts nature and God out in the cold.

The scenery in the story forces us to think about the author of the story. When we see the Dream Center or that bank that looks like a flying saucer, we think of George Crocker and how much of an avant-garde artist he was. When we see the natural world, we think about the author of creation, Jesus Christ, the Word of God, through him all things were made.

Cathi and I went out on the beach this past week. It was too cold to take our shoes off, but being out out on the beach with the waves crashing and no one about, we felt a pure peace, and our conversation turned to the creator, because we were essentially nestled in his arms. We are bird lovers, too, and living in what is essentially one of the finer aviaries in the world tends to refocus one's attention from himself to something larger.

When Jesus was born, a star—a heavenly body—led the wise men to Bethlehem. The baby was born in a manger with animals all around him. These were not filthy conditions, because Christ has created all the animals that surrounded him. When Jesus was crucified, darkness came over the land when it was noon. There was an earthquake when he died. There was another earthquake when he rose from the dead. Nature cannot be separated from Christ. Let us pray that we, too, will never be separated from him.