Week 1: Creation
There are, basically, two possible views of the universe. It must either be personal or impersonal. That is to say, the universe must be either the product of a person or it is the product of chance. The view we take on this is important because it shapes the way we think about reality—about what it means to be human, about relationships and about ethics (how we should live). The Christian answer to this question is pretty straightforward and clear: the Christian tradition affirms that creation is “personal.” There is a personal God who can be known behind the creation. We see this in the Nicene Creed, which begins by affirming that “we believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty." From this we see, first of all, that this God is a person. He’s our “Father.”
Perhaps the clearest statement on the origin of the universe is found in the opening chapters of Genesis. In Genesis 1, we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In fact, the term “Genesis” is a Greek word which means “beginning.” Genesis 1-2 is a polemic of sorts, which uses a bit of poetry and theology, and cobbles them together in a literary framework to describe some key points about who God is and who we are. From this, we see that:
- God is the creator of all things,
- God is King over the creation,
- the Creation is good,
- and humanity is made in God’s image.
The purpose of Genesis 1-2 is not meant to provide a scientific account of “how” things came into being, but rather to underscore the fact that the universe began with God.
The Purposes of Creation
Creation is not just a haphazard, random thing, but is purposeful. The first purpose of creation is for beauty. Sometimes we think that for something to have value that it must be useful. It must be functional. Yet the Bible tells us that “beauty” is justification enough. When Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 3:6), we are told that he adorned it with precious stones “for beauty.” And, in the Creation account in Genesis 1, we read after each thing He created, God said, “It is good.”
Second, God creates for the Son. In Colossians 1, we read, “In [Christ] all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” We see that all things are created through Christ and “for” Christ. This tells us that not only was the Son of God (pre-incarnate) with God the Father at creation, but that creation itself was created “for” the Son.
Third, creation is God’s own glory. In Psalm 19, we read, “The Heaven’s declare the glory of God.” When we think of the beauty of the creation, its intricacies and its details, it tells us something about our creator and it reflects God’s glory.
The Christian Response to Creation
Having said all this, what should be our response to the Christian teaching about creation?
First, we should enjoy God’s creation. In 1 Timothy 4:4, Paul writes, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” As we think about and interact with the creation, our job is to enjoy the creation: to enjoy its beauty. We do this when we tend our garden, when we enjoy a good meal, when we engage in recreational activities outside, and when we meditate and reflect on God’s creation. Another way we do this is by resting. This is why there is a sabbath rest component, which is built into the fabric of creation itself.
Second, creation is to be explored. We see this in Genesis 2, when Adam begins to name the animals, it presupposes that he has observed them—that he has studied them for their characteristics and how they fit into the Animal kingdom. In science, we call this taxonomy—when we classify things according to their species. Yet this only happens following careful observation and study of the natural world. Indeed, this invites us to engage with the sciences—to conduct research in the various spheres of biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, medicine and psychology. Our capability as humans, for instance, to create a vaccine for things like the Coronavirus is a manifestation of the human endeavor to explore the world and to cultivate new technologies.
Finally, we are called to care for the creation. In Genesis 2:15, we read, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Part of our vocations as humans is to care for God’s world. The modern application of this is, of course, that we are to take care of God’s world. We are to take care of the part of creation in which God has placed us.
- How does affirming belief in a personal God shape the way you think about the world?
- One of the purposes for God creating is for beauty. What are some aspects of God’s creation that you find beautiful?
- A faithful Christian response to God’s creation involves enjoyment, exploration and care. What are some ways that you enjoy, explore and care for God’s creation?
O heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works; that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.