Marveling in the Creator of Creation
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
God intends for us to enjoy creation and marvel at it, but not that all marvel would be in the physical, and this is often where we look for it. Rather, God intends for our marvel to also be in Him and in His religion. Man is often trying to find that satisfaction of “awe” within exploring God’s creation, and the need for that awe is real, but it’s not going to be found in traveling to Mars, or even in exploring all the galaxies. There is certainly an awe in these! God’s creation is marvelous. But the level at which we can marvel is far lower if we try to separate these created things from the Creator, and from the whole design He intends for us to know of Him in holiness and truth.
The heavens and earth declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). We live in a time where mankind is so busy talking about appreciating sunsets and nature, yet man is constantly severing these from God, the One who created them! Mankind hungers for depth and awe and they search all of creation for these, failing to see that these all testify to the One who is filled with depth and awesomeness—the Lord (Rom 1:20)!
Man’s natural mind thinks that to appreciate God in His creation will lessen our enjoyment of creation, but in reality it breaks open creation, enabling us to truly appreciate it, enabling us to truly appreciate God. The songs of birds, the colors in a sunset, the purity in the green landscape, the depths of the ocean, the strangeness in all God’s creatures—all of these things are finally seen for the great meaning they hold. But we can never truly grasp that meaning, no matter how much we claw at the latch upon them, if we will not take the God of them.
Mankind hungers and thirsts for this meaning, and they are not wrong to want it, but they are wrong for trying to have it without God. And God has fastened spiritual locks on all of his creation that only unlock for those who are sincere towards God, who truly set Him first before them (Isaiah 1:19, Deut 7:9-10, Matt 6:33, Prov 13:25, 1 Sam 2:30). The whole entire universe, all of life itself, of truth itself, meaning, and righteousness hinges upon how we treat God… If we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness or not (Matt 6:33). If we keep His Word or not. If we keep His covenant and obey His commandments or not (Psalm 103:17-18). Then, and only then, do we see the God who has always been there; then, and only then, do we know the Truth and are set free (John 8:31-32). But this great lock upon all we crave of justice, righteousness, depth, meaning, truth, life, and awe, all of it—this only unlocks to us by one single key: how we treat God. If we truly turn from our godlessness, from living in disobedience to God’s commandments, and living by what is right in our own eyes to what is right in His eyes (Isaiah 1:27), and seek God with a sincere heart (Jer 29:13), we will find the door is opened.
Wanting depth and awe is not enough—of course we want them. And even trying to pursue these things is not enough. Today we’re so over-convinced by our mere wanting and pursuing of these things, believing that we are virtuous and wise in this, and we fail to see how untrue we are in our estimate of ourselves; how such efforts are even unrighteous and foolish. How? Because we try to unlock these things in every way except through obedience to God. Because in every way we elevate the creation, we do so by spurning the Creator. Because we seek all meaning and depth, truth and righteousness, through the creation rather than the Creator. We cast God and His Word behind us in the very name of searching for truth (Psalm 50:17).
All these very efforts, even after truth, wisdom, or morality, are rooted within this casting of God behind our backs, and searching for such things outside of God rather than within Him. We’d rather search the stars than search God’s Word. We would rather search out the false gods of our imaginations for morals and commandments than turn to the One True God and His Word for righteousness. We take a Facebook quote for a law more than the Word of God. We believe more in the goodness of man than the goodness of God. We care more about cleaning our oceans than about correcting the godlessness in this world. We live after all of this, fully convinced we know what goodness and wisdom is, when all of this reveals that our very ideas of goodness are foolish and unrighteous. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Rom 1:22-23)
There is a very common mindset in our day in which so many people think they’re living innocently because they’re living after nature and not drugs or money. Many believe there is so much meaning in nature, or in living remotely, or traveling to unique places, and they pursue these instead of pursuing God. They don’t see how they are wrong even in this, because they’re still not acknowledging God, or are not acknowledging God fully. They think it is safe to make their lives about these things, and are busy congratulating themselves on living in a higher way of life, and they do not see the sin that is still in such attitudes, how godless this still is.
Tragically, this kind of thinking is very common even among Christians, believing they’re so good and right, wise and innocent, failing to see the deception in such thinking, and just how worldly it is. How lacking it still is to live for hiking, health food, exercise, and travel rather than holiness and the Kingdom of God, and how there is such a great difference between these things.
It is not wrong to enjoy these things in their proper place. The problem is the pride we take in ourselves for embracing them. The problem is how convinced we are that these things are more than what they actually are, and how convinced we are that we are living righteously because we live in “innocent activities”, when we are not living after what God actually commands us to live after: the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (holiness).
We fall into the same sin of the world that believes it is innocent because it desires these things and lives after them. The world is deceived by these to think they are wise and righteous, when all these activities have nothing to do with God and obeying Him. To follow in the same set of beliefs is to be deceived by the same ideology. And this is the problem for so many of us today: we do not see how living in such a way is not some higher way of life, it is the ambitions of the world, the morality and “wisdom” of the world. And if we do not cling more closely to Christ, pay much closer attention to what we have heard (Heb 2:1), then their sins will deceive us too.
We are not going to find more real meaning by trying to spend more time in nature, or going on a long walking trip, or giving up our car for cycling, or exploring a different country. The fact that we even think to do things like that to fill that desire inside reveals that we are being told lies constantly about this. No, the pursuit of God, the spiritual life of obedience taken on as a true way of life that separates us from the way of life others take in this world, this is the journey we need first, before we even consider the others.
When we look at something like nature, travel, living off grid, growing our own food, going on a long walking trip and so on, the question to ask ourselves is what are we believing in these things? Again, it’s not wrong to enjoy these things, it is wrong to believe wrong ideals from them. Walking is just walking, growing your own food is just growing your own food, yet the world tries to make more of these things than they really are. It is enjoyable to do these, but there is no spiritual life in them.
The second thing we should ask ourselves is if God is truly first in our lives. Are we really setting Him before us, seeking His kingdom and will above everything else, or do these little narratives have our attention? Do our plans, our families, experiences, home decor, and all other desires have our attention? These things are what Jesus warns us of, the threat to our spiritual life, coming in and choking the good seed: “But the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19, emphasis mine) Is Jesus first? Are you fighting to make Him first in your life? Or do you believe in something being more meaningful than Him? Setting the whole course of your life by a belief in something else to give you that meaning?
In a world where the most marvelous Creator has left so much for us to enjoy, may we never think more of ourselves for enjoying and prizing them—may we prize God above all He has made. May the Lord help all of us to see what true righteousness is, and what entering into meaning and truth really looks like, and how all these things are found in one place: obedience to Jesus Christ.
June 7, 2022