The idea of creation is really tough to get our mind around. There’s nothing inside of creation that can illustrate something that was initiated from outside of creation. While it’s the Truth, it is nearly inconceivable from our perspective. We try, but if we're honest, we really can’t get our heads around it. Try it. Think of nothing. Imagine nothing. If you imagined a big dark space free of stars and light, you imagined something. Describe the nothing. If you started with a vacuum or a void or an empty space, you still started with something. Explain creation that starts with nothing. You can’t, but not because that's not how it happened, but because we just don't have the necessary frame of reference.
From our perspective of creation, we start with something and turn it into something else, usually something we think is better than what we started with. But it's not as if God sat down in front of his typewriter ready to write and loaded a blank page a blank page. God didn't stare into the grain of the painter's canvas for a while until the lighting and inspiration was right. There wasn’t even a blank canvas waiting for the artist's paint before the, “In the beginning,” because God initiated everything.
God is the all-powerful Author and Creator of all things, including the our eyes through which we see his creation and our minds in which we try to understand it. And before “in the beginning,” he knew the beginning, the middle, and the end. It’s his story. It’s The Story. And God is the Author. God is the Creator. And God is Lord over it all.
But some--including many of America's Founding Fathers--would argue that after creation, God was no longer involved. It was as if he created a clock, wound it up, and then set it on a shelf and forgot about it as it is winding down. But this is not how the Bible describes God and the relationship he initiates with his creation.
In his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis describes a time in his early atheist life we he understood existence through the lens of the playwright. It was clear to him that, “if Shakespeare and Hamlet could ever meet, it must be Shakespeare's doing. Hamlet could initiate nothing” (1). As the author and creator of the play, Shakespeare alone held the ability to revel himself to his creation. He controlled the setting, the characters he placed into the setting, and the plot. As a created character, Hamlet could only know Shakespeare if Shakespeare initiated the conversation. Shakespeare would have to be a part of the play somehow. But it appears that was not the case. Shakespeare was not We on the other hand are a living creation. Yet, where Hamlet never knew of Shakespeare, God initiated a relationship with us, his creation. Standing before us is a grand opportunity to know our God.
To initiate a relationship, God scribed his autograph upon us, his masterpiece. Created deep within us is a desire to know God. As a very part of who we are, we desire to worship. But left on our own, we end up worshiping sticks and rocks, mountains and animals, money and people, our politics and sexuality. Left on our own, with our need to know the Creator, we come up with weak ideas about who God is. We try to define God from our perspective. Our finite minds use science and religion, philosophy and our imagination to fill in the blanks in an effort to initiate the conversation. But all of these ideas fall grossly short. These ideas can't really show us who God is; because if we are to know God it is God himself who opens the conversation. It is God who defines who God is. Our responsibility is found in the call to humbly listen and then respond accordingly.
Take Abraham in Genesis 12 for example. Here’s a regular guy just minding his own business when God spoke. God initiated the conversation. Specifically, God introduces himself to Abraham and Abraham listened. It wasn’t that Abraham was doing everything right; in fact, he was a sinful man. It wasn’t that Abraham had made some special discovery or cracked some secret code. God spoke and Abraham responded. They conversed – the Creator and the created.
It gets even more remarkable. God continued to speak to Abraham, and the descendants of Abraham, and even gentiles outside of Abraham's family. Many were listening and in turn proclaiming the glory of God. More and more people were entering into the conversation with the Creator. By God’s Word—his initiated revelation—we were learning more and more about him. His Word was put to writing so many more could know God better and love him more. And then, the unthinkable happened. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) God entered his story. He became the ultimate manifestation of his Word. He became the ultimate revelation of himself, to us, in terms we can understand. But why?
The Author wrote himself into the story because the story is about the Author. His name is Jesus. But this isn’t the only reason Jesus wrote himself into the story. The Bible, God’s Word, shows us that God did more than initiate creation. The Bible teaches us that God did more than initiate a relationship with his creation. The Bible proclaims that God authored and initiated our salvation. And when God initiates a conversation, it's best you respond!
1. C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1956), 223-224.
*The graphic used in this post is in the public domain.