Guest post by Taylor Brown
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Christianity has many key beliefs that set it apart from the countless other belief systems and worldviews offered by our world today. The Trinity, the Incarnation, justification by grace through faith, and many others are profound and wonderful doctrines that not only provide Christians with a robust and nuanced way of engaging with our faith, but they also offer a large and beautiful picture of the God we worship and serve. While any one of these doctrines would warrant a whole series of blog posts, I’d like to focus on one key Christian doctrine that is often overlooked by modern Christians: the doctrine of creation.
The Church throughout the centuries has continually affirmed the doctrine of creation. This is the belief that God as Creator made the world and all that is in it. Everything thing that we see and all that we do not see in the universe (including the universe itself!) is a created thing, made by a good and loving God who saw that “it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).
More important, though, is what type of creation this is. The Christian view of creation isn’t the belief that God took some eternal, pre-existing “stuff” and then formed it into the world; He is not simply a craftsman that formed the world from stuff already present.
Nor is our view of creation like many ancient creation stories. Those stories told about a world that came about as the byproduct of a huge, cosmic war between the gods, with the body of one of the defeated deities becoming the world.
Nor is our view of creation like that of many ancient Gnostics (an interesting and strange group of people in the ancient world) who believed that the world was formed by an evil god and that the good god was supposed to take his faithful followers away from this evil world.
No, in contrast to all of these different and varying views of the world and how it came about, Christians believe that (1) God made the world “very good” and that (2) God created all that is seen and unseen from nothing.
This understanding of creation from nothing means that God didn’t need some pre-existing material to craft from, nor is creation the unintentional byproduct of some cosmic war or the work of some evil god. Instead, Christians believe that the world was created by the infinitely loving and infinitely good Creator God. It means that God spoke into existence all that ever was, is, and ever will be, from the dirt on which we stand to the furthest reaches of space that no human eye will ever see. And, perhaps most beautiful, it means that the sole power that brought created reality into existence from nothingness was nothing less than pure love.
What does it mean to say that divine love brought all of creation into existence? It means that before the world ever was, there was only God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, eternally in self-giving, other-oriented loving relationship. Even if the universe had never come into existence, even if God had never created, God would still be perfectly full of love.
The beauty of Christian creation is not only that creation occurred by means of love, but also that it is not necessary. All that is—from the smallest atom, to the largest supernova—never had to be. Creation, including each one of us, is totally reliant on God. And God needs nothing outside of himself. God did not need to create you or me. He did not need to create the earth or the sky. He is not dependent on us. This is beautiful because simply the mere fact that you and I are here is only because of God’s love. God did not need to create; He wanted to create! God did not need to create you; He wanted to create you and wants to continue to recreate you.
God creates because God is love.
Further still, this means that not only does God create out of love, God also upholds and sustains all of reality. Every moment of continued existence is a pure and utter gift from the Lord.
Every moment is grace.
This holds true even in the midst of suffering and evil. Suffering and evil are themselves perversions of the goodness of creation—things God never intended. Pain and suffering have no positive existence in themselves. They are like parasites, feeding off of and perverting that which itself has been created as “very good.”
This means that suffering and evil are finite parasites and cannot endure forever. It means that, despite all current appearances, the goodness we see in the world is not composed of small pockets of light in the midst of a vast darkness. Instead it is the other way around. The evil we see in the world is made up of small, temporary pockets of parasitic darkness that are surrounded by a bright cross-shaped light.
We should not let evil and suffering distract us from the gift of existence, the sheer grace of creation from nothing. For evil is temporary, a parasitic enemy, that was dealt a mortal wound at Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and whose final destruction is now only a matter of time. But creation came before the Fall and “it was very good.”
Every moment we are alive, every breath we take, is a gift of God’s gracious creating and sustaining power. Let us—as adopted sons and daughters of God through Christ—never forget that.