26 November 2009

Grateful for the goodness of creation (Thanks from Genesis 1:1, part four)

by Dan Phillips

[Sorry, the RefTagger program messes up the title. In this fourth and final post in the Valerie-inspired series on thankfulness, we glean yet a bit more from Genesis 1:1.]
Genesis 1:1 has shown us that God first produced the universe out of nothing.  Next we focused on the Creator/creature distinction; and then the fundamental revelation of this one Creator-God.

Finally we step back and look at the whole. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" means the universe, including all things "in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities" (Colossians 1:16). Matter was a direct and immediate creation of God.

If that simple statement itself is not plain and emphatic enough, we have the additional repetition of the narrative, to this effect: "And God saw that [the material arrangement He had just made] was good." This occurs every day (—except Monday!), and the whole is crowned in 1:32 by "very good!" Matter mattered, and the matter God created was good.

Many of us read this without raising an eyebrow, but (A) it was not always thus, and (B) it is not everywhere thus, even now. Philosophies and religions have always existed that get quivery when it comes to matter, as if material universe per se were either evil or inconsequential. "Matter doesn't matter," or "Matter is badder," would be their bumper-stickers.

Whether it is the Platonist jawing on about the Ideal, or the Christian Scientist insisting that matter is an illusion of mortal mind (even as she munches her cookie and tugs at her sweater), or whether it is the Gnostic straining with all his might to distance the Deity from creation, it is all shattered by this simple revelation: "God created the heavens and the earth."

God did not simply create a study or a La-Z-Boy, and bid Adam sit down and contemplate. He made a glorious and endlessly multiform creation, bid Adam subdue and rule it (Genesis 1:26-28), and urged him to eat to his heart's content of its fruits (2:16) — with only one exception (2:17). However, Adam ate of that one exception (3:6), which in turn changed creation. Adam's turf was tarnished by Adam's turpitude (3:17-19), and subjected to futility and the bondage of corruption (Romans 8:20-21), from which it will one day be rescued.

So, you see, how Adam interacted with matter, with created things, mattered. It mattered immediately, and it mattered eternally. His interaction with creation was a thing for the courtroom. He was to subdue it; he was to rule it; he was to enjoy it — and he was to keep his paws off of one part of it. These were God's words, and that fact gave moral and spiritual significance to the whole. His sin, committed by violating God's law as it touched on one created item, brought corruption and decay and chaos into the whole created theater.

In the meanwhile, man does not live by bread alone (Deuteronomy 8:3) — but he does live by bread, and can ask God to keep it coming (Matthew 6:11), and thank Him for all of His good gifts, material as well as spiritual (cf. Deuteronomy 26:10-11; Ephesians 1:3ff.).

So don't feel bad about thanking God for delicious turkey, bread, family, or whichever of His good created gifts you enjoy today. In fact, feel bad if you don't (cf. Romans 1:21).

Just make very sure that you heartily value yet more the bread of life, who is our Lord Jesus (John 6:35ff.). Through Him "let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15 NAS), and let us look with thankfulness to that kingdom which cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:26-29).
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him;
bless his name!
(Psalm 100:4)
Thank God!

Dan Phillips's signature

5 comments:

Mike Riccardi said...

...and thank Him for all of His good gifts, material as well as spiritual (cf. Deuteronomy 26:10-11; Ephesians 1:3ff.).

So don't feel bad about thanking God for delicious turkey, bread, family, or whichever of His good created gifts you enjoy today. In fact, feel bad if you don't (cf. Romans 1:21).

Just make very sure that you heartily value yet more the bread of life, who is our Lord Jesus (John 6:35ff.)
.

Amen, Dan. What a great call to thanksgiving for the sake of the Giver as His own greatest gift.

He gives us every good and perfect gift, and supplies us richly with all things to enjoy. Give Him thanks for such things!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, brother.

Stefan said...

We already celebrated Thanksgiving up here last month, but the last two weeks have given both my wife and me SO MUCH to be thankful for, that today (this very day) feels likes Thanksgiving for me, too.

After what my wife and I have seen the Lord do in our lives the last two weeks, I give thanks that while His testing and the hand He has laid upon us has been very painful, yet our Lord truly is a God who hears and answers prayer, who knows how to give good gifts, and who loves and cares for His children.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Cheri Radomski said...

This had a note of comfort for me. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't love material things, like books or my guitars, much as I do and it makes me uncomfortable. This reminded me that if it's a gift from God there's nothing wrong with enjoying it as long as you keep the Big Picture in mind. All in all, a very appropriate post for Thankgiving. I certainly do "give thanks" that a teacher of mine started putting links to Pyromaniacs on the class blog. If not a bit strange, I really enjoy reading these posts. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Brad said...

AMEN!, thanks, Dan

Hundred's of posts defending "gambling" and only 4 affirming Thanking God for His good gifts....

DJP said...

Thanks Brad.