The daffodils raising up and holding fast against the pounding rain that seems unceasing this winter have me fully ready for spring. I know there’s more gloom yet to come, but I’m filling the house with cut flowers and spending half my paycheck on new rose bushes nonetheless. And I’m dreaming of the next season.
Last night, we discussed why, in our discussions of the Gospel, we must start with God as creator. Despite having never clearly articulated it, one brought to the forefront, I realized it couldn’t be any other way. The whole of life mirrors it.
I love the traditional church calendar – the liturgical year – because of that reminder. Each season plays a part in telling the Gospel story. Even our physical seasons proclaim it – it once was dark and gloomy, but then! Then, God created. Life was spoken. Or sung, as Lewis wrote.
For what is spring without winter? What is salvation without Creator and creation and longing?
When it comes to talking to unbelievers about sin and our need for a Savior – or even believers trapped in recurrent sin – I have often found myself wondering “Why should people care?” I, myself, have some belief that has led me to care… but how do I communicate that to others? How do you convince someone that sin is, indeed, sin and that they do need forgiveness?
First, they must be accountable to someone other than themselves.
But how do we know to whom we should be accountable? There’s so many measures of success and the goal posts are always moving.
You really do have to begin with Genesis. It is vitally important that God is recognized as powerful Creator.
“And God said…”
In Hebrews, we read of Jesus, who is Son of God and God Himself.
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
When we begin to talk about Jesus, we often begin with His birth and move quickly through His life and resurrection. All so very important! But we must begin at the beginning.
C.S. Lewis did a fantastic job expressing the very character of Jesus in The Chronicles of Narnia. Often, a person’s first (and maybe only) experience with Narnia is through The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, where we encounter the Pevensie’s, their journey to Narnia, and their relationship with Aslan. The telling of Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy’s growing and diminishing relationships with Aslan is poetic, beautiful, and convicting.
But it doesn’t begin there.
Read chronologically, we meet Aslan in The Magician’s Nephew, in the midst of two other children’s journey to Narnia. When we first meet Aslan, he is singing.
“Digory had never seen such a sun… the earth was of many colors; they were fresh, hot and vivid. They made you feel excited; until you saw the Singer himself, and then you forgot everything else.”
Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
As Aslan sang, Narnia was breathed into existence. What once was empty and lonely was now bright and vivid. And Aslan himself – well, to watch him and to follow him was unavoidable. He was the creator. His power could not be ignored.
Books and centuries later, when Narnia draws to an end and judgement occurs, it is with similar feeling.
“They all looked straight in his face; I don’t think they had any choice about that. And when some looked, the expression of their faces changed terribly – it was fear and hatred…. But the others looked in the face of Aslan and loved him, though some of them were very frightened at the same time.”
Lewis, The Last Battle
Even those who had forgotten, or chosen to ignore, the power of Aslan, their creator, could not continue to do so once face-to-face.
We know that creation is constantly revealing the Creator. At some point, all who have been created and experienced creation will have no choice but to recognize the Creator. In Romans, we read:
“What may be known of God is manifest in them for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
In the Psalms, it is regularly declared that creation is bringing glory to its creator.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge…”
In our daily lives, we have some recognition of this. Artists are recognized for and remembered by the works of their hands. We admire what they make and, thus, we admire them as the maker. Without their works, we may not have known the talent they wield. It’s in their creations that we know to acknowledge it. As humans, we seem to be made to recognize beauty, invention, and talent. No surprise, really, when you consider whose image we bear!
The natural next step after recognizing God as Creator is recognizing our own place in this world – beloved, yes. But created. Without a Creator, we would not exist. Our characteristics, our image, our very being would cease to be. It is a humbling thought to recognize yourself as wholly and utterly dependent. To know that you were created leads to two thoughts. First, that the Creator is supreme. Second, that only the Creator is supreme. Not you nor anyone else has the authority and power of the Creator. We are humbled, both in our relationship to God and our relationship to others. What place does pride have in this setup?
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.”
“Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? “
When we reject or lose this mindset, we are led deeper into sin. Romans 1 tells us that misplaced pride leads us to idol worship – whether than be ourself, others, or things. And Galatians 5 warns us that without proper humility and love, we will only devour and consume one another in pride and hatred.
And so, we see – so much depends on first knowing and believing in the familiar story told in Genesis 1. Many can likely quote those first lines by heart. Many, likely, overlook their importance. But we cannot – cannot – understand the Gospel without them. We cannot share the Gospel without them. We cannot live out the Gospel without them.
Without a proper view of God as our Creator, we cannot recognize the significance of our sin and our need for a Savior.
Without a proper view of God as our Creator, we cannot recognize the inherent worth of our neighbor and our inherent equality to them.
“Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Without a right view of God as Creator, we are in danger of both.