There’s something about being in nature that makes me feel closer to God. With that being said, I’m not the typical outdoors person, and I believe it’s safe to diagnose myself with a case of arachnophobia. Because of my fears I tend to forget the effect of creation’s beauty, but when I finally take the time to relax and get out there I’m reminded again of how immense God is. Rather than that being a scary thought as it might be for some, I find it comforting.
This recent reminder began at the Creation Museum. I live close to it, but I made my first visit there a few weeks ago. It was marvelous! As you can probably guess, it’s not the typical museum. Rather than glorifying evolution as most museums do, it adheres to the Word of God and explains how events could have happened based on the testimony of Scripture. What’s ironic is that the explanations from Scripture are a lot less far-fetched than evolutionary ideas. But even more importantly, everything in the Creation Museum points to Christ, as all things should.
One of the most powerful scenes to me was that after the Fall, God had to sacrifice an animal to clothe Adam and Eve in their shame. This may not seem significant on the surface since we are used to eating meat or seeing leather goods, but before the Fall there was no death. Death did not exist until sin entered the world; therefore, God offered the first of many sacrifices to temporarily cover human sin. This continued until Christ became the ultimate sacrifice.
Even though we live in a sinful world because of mankind’s disobedience, God’s creation still testifies about Him. Every person is uniquely designed and created. Even identical twins can be so different (I know from being around a pair of identical twins all the time). Each one of us has the potential to offer something important in the kingdom of God. Our gifts and talents are a testimony of God’s design in us.
In addition to humanity, the rest of God’s creation is breathtaking. I love butterflies, and to think of the different stages they have to go through to become a butterfly is quite mindboggling. Everything has to be just perfect in order to work. Then there are so many different colors, shapes, and sizes that “beautiful” doesn’t seem to be the right word to describe it.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m scared of spiders, and when I see one in the house, I want it gone…permanently. But I can’t deny how special they are too. Just seeing how strong and intricate their webs are is a testimony of a divine Creator. They also eat mosquitoes so that’s a fair trade-off for letting some stick around.
We could travel the world and not even see a fraction of God’s creation, but by paying attention to what’s around us, we should be able to understand God’s love for us. This is what I mean: “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? … And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow, they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” (Matt. 6:26, 28-30 NASB). This passage talks about trusting the Lord in all things, including basic provisions, but it also testifies to how much He loves us. He takes care of His creation. The cycle of nature runs as it does because of God despite its sinful aspects. If we can witness the provisions from God to His creation, should we not also recognize how much He loves us and will provide if we trust in Him and follow His will? Jesus makes it clear in v. 33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” God’s creation testifies that we are deeply loved if only we would take the time to see it.
Paul also writes about creation in Romans:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” ~ Romans 1:18-25 NASB
Paul writes that the wrath of God is against men who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” A person cannot suppress the truth unless he or she already understands it. And how does a person understand it? God made it evident through His creation. But what was supposed to point people to God–creation–became the object of worship. Paul is writing about when all of this first started, not long after the Fall. “For even though they knew God” they decided to make images of gods or idols to be worshipped. What is also important to understand is that God let them make these choices. Why? The uniqueness of humanity compared to the rest of creation is having free will. People rejected His truth that was already evident to them. They willingly chose to disobey God. Instead of seeing God in His creation, they twisted creation for their own purposes, and led themselves down a path of sin leading to death.
Continuing from the previous passage:
“For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” ~ Romans 1:26-32
People’s disobedience and worship of God’s creation led them to sin which they willingly gave into. But it doesn’t stop there. Notice the shift between the past and present beginning with “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (v. 32). Paul isn’t just talking about people long ago. He shares this truth with the church in Rome for a reason:
“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to His deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” ~ Romans 2:1-11 (NASB)
Paul teaches everything in Romans 1 because the church in Rome (yes, the church) is practicing the same things. They have knowledge of God. They know the truth even to the point that understanding the consequence of the aforementioned sins is death. Yet they are practicing the same things and encouraging others to do the same. There is no sense in writing everything in Romans 1 if it doesn’t relate to the recipients. That would be costly and a waste of time. Rather, there are people in the church of Rome who are behaving like those who turned from worshipping God and worshipped the creation instead. The consequences of such defiance has led to a laundry list of sinful behavior, including everything from homosexuality to gossiping, which are all judged the same before God. If you continue to read through Romans, you’ll find that Paul spends much time explaining sin but not to that end. He discusses sin to such an extent not only to lead people to repentance but so that the church may grasp the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice.
As a result of accepting such an undeserving sacrifice, we also have been given the Spirit of God:
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh–for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” ~ Romans 8:11-25 (NASB)
Mankind’s desire to worship creation and reject God demonstrates the truth about human nature. We are not born righteous but sinful. Our desire is to follow the lusts of the flesh, and without the Spirit, we would do just that. But anyone who has accepted Christ wholeheartedly has the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh wage war until we receive the redemption of our body. The rest of creation groans with us; however, it does not have the Spirit. Rather, it testifies about God even for our benefit. May we appreciate it for how it can bring us closer to the Creator. May we also not fall into the same behavior as the church in Rome. As Christians, we know the truth. If we practice things that are against the truth, we act against God. If we suppress the truth, we act against God. It’s that simple. The evidence of God is in us and all around us. We are without excuse.
But thanks be to God who is rich in kindness and mercy and willing to forgive when we ask. Thanks be to God who demonstrates His miracles and power through His creation so that everyone can be a witness of His magnificence. He is worthy to be praised above all things!
1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord