Summer is a time for walks in the park, for hikes in the mountains, for baseball games against another congregation. Summer brings us out into the world again after the semi-hibernation of winter. And even in a world that has grave environmental problems, there does remain the dearest freshness deep down things. We breathe the sweet air, laden with the scent of the neighbour's apple tree. We watch the bluebirds build their nests. Bees buzz. People walk on the street, enjoying the evening breeze.
And every Sunday afternoon, Christian churches gather together in order to profess their faith in “God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.” We worship God because we know that this rich summer world is Father's world. Everything in our lives depends upon our knowledge of God as Creator. The further articles of the Apostles' Creed rest upon this first statement about the Creator. Sin and salvation have no meaning apart from the fact of creation. Sin means the distortion and pollution of creation. Salvation means the restoration and glorification of creation.
The Bible begins with the fact of creation. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Today a battle is being waged in order to preserve this scriptural truth. Evolutionary thinking makes strong inroads even among so-called Christians. And so it is right and good that faithful believers emphasize the truth of creation. The universe is not eternal. Matter is not eternal. It had a beginning. And life is not the product of chance. We human beings are not cosmic accidents – as evolutionary thinking implies.
But in the heat of the battle against evolutionism I sometimes wonder if we haven't actually lost sight of the meaning of our confession of God as Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Is this a confession that in any way moves us? We must realize that the Bible never speaks of creation as simply a bare fact. Creation is not an abstract idea. The Bible's language about creation is always joined to praise!
But can we praise God as Creator if our eyes are not wide open to the Creation? Our Belgic Confession speaks of the two ways along which we can know God. These ways are the creation and the Scriptures. In Article Two, we confess that the universe is before our eyes as “a most beautiful book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many letters leading us to perceive clearly the invisible qualities of God, namely, His eternal power and deity…”
It should be stressed that Article Two is speaking about a believer. It is the believer who knows God through creation. Unbelievers don't even want to know God. They remain unmoved by the Song of Creation. God transmits His glory through created things, but the unbeliever is not tuned in to this broadcast. He can't hear it and he can't see it. Of course, the problem is not with the broadcast. On, the contrary, the message is loud and clear. The problem is with the sinner who closes his heart and mind against God. God made man good and upright, able to hear and see, but man has hardened himself in sin.
John Calvin often said that only through the spectacles of Scripture do we begin to understand and appreciate the book of creation. If you give a beautiful book to an old man with dim eyes, he won't be able to read it. But if you give him the right kind of glasses, he will see and read and enjoy.
In a similar way God unplugs our ears and gives us the right kind of glasses so that we truly see and hear. The Holy Spirit gives us new minds, new eyes and new ears so that we can tune in to the broadcast of creation which declares the Creator's glory.
Are you listening? Do you hear the heavens telling the glory of God and the universe proclaiming His handiwork (Psalm 19:1, 2)? This is a speech which no unbeliever can hear! Do you hear the babies chanting the glory of God (Psalm 8:1)? Have you ever really seen the sun, coming forth like a strong athlete from the starting blocks (Psalm 19:5)? Did you watch as the warm sun urged new growth from the ground, as empty brown patches of soil became riotous displays of colour? With David, did you ever praise God for the fact that you yourself are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)? What a piece of work, indeed, is man! Did the first pink glow of a summer dawn ever remind you of Psalm 104? There we read that the invisible God dresses Himself with light as with a garment! (vs. 2).
The point of all these and many, many more passages is that creation manifests God. Sure, the unbeliever is blind to this revelation. In fact, the natural mind of man is far more inclined to worship the creature. Only the mind of the spirit leads us from the creature to the Creator. Through the Spirit we get the Biblical eyesight and insight we need to see the glory of God in creation.
Through Christ, who restores us to real humanity, we start to realize again that the world is like a great theater. You go to a theater to see a show. Well, the world is a never-ending show. In Christ, we learn to see and to love this show. It delights us with its variety. We start acting like little children going to the zoo for the first time. They gape at the neck of the giraffe; they are amazed at the mouth of the hippopotamus. The ludicrous barking of the monkeys delights them. The child sees everything freshly. To the child everything is equally fantastic and delightful.
Well, we all ought to be more like children. We ought to be surprised at the miracle of the commonplace. We live in Father's beautiful world. It is singing a song of praise to Him. And the world is inviting us to join in. It declares God's glory and it wants us to join in this declaration! Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
How often don't we shortchange God by our dullness, by the feebleness of our perception, by our failure to see His wisdom. When God had finished His work, He said that everything was very good. But God wants us to share in this admiration. He wants to be praised for His works.
I think we all have to learn to see the world afresh as the theater of God's glory. Christians should be very interested in the world. Christians should be the most enthusiastic scientists and artists and bakers and builders. For in every trade or profession, Christians realize that they are busy in and with the creation of the Lord God Almighty. He made the atom, He designed the landscape, He created wheat, He formed the tree from which came the wood. And He made man in His own image so that, as His own representative, man might love and care for this creation, and bring out its many possibilities.
It's important that we love and know the world in which we live. Nobody can know all. Sometimes we have to restrict our areas of interest and investigation. But pray for a sensitive spirit and a discerning eye, a receptive ear, so that you, too, can be carried along by the planet's praise.
We live in Father's World. If we know Him as Father in Christ, we will grow in sensitivity and appreciation in His works. But if we refuse to believe in and to give our lives to Christ, we will be increasingly alienated from the Creator. And, instead of swelling in praise, our hearts will shrink and perish.
Many young people live highly artificial lives. Instead of living in harmony with creation, they distort creation by means of drug abuse, illicit sex, debased music and literature, perverse language, abusiveness toward teacher and parent. Their hearts don't beat in harmony with the beautiful world in which they live. Instead of admiring and praising God's works, they idolize the distortions of these works in unbelieving culture.
It may look attractive. And for a while, it's fun. But then the emptiness sets in. The freshness of life disappears. People wither away.
You can avoid that sad discovery by remembering your Creator in the days of your youth. You can avoid the tragedy of modern youth by studying the wisdom of your God in the created world.
Enjoy the show in this great theater. Enjoy created life. For wherever you cast your eyes in whatever field of learning, you will find that there is not one spot in the universe which does not display the glory of your God and King. Life is a parade, a never-ending pageant, a continuous spectacle of God's glory. Enjoy it! And don't forget to sing along!