Good, but Groaning

God reveals His goodness in the things He has made.

Creation is Good (1)

Read through to the end of today’s column for a special announcement about ReVision.

For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4.4

Goodness for granted
God is good, and we can learn about what goodness is, and thus how to pursue a good life, by looking to God as He reveals Himself in His Word. The Scriptures consistently show us the unity of the Persons in the Godhead, and the holiness, harmony, order, creativity, and love They enjoy and express. Since God is good, these attributes must also be good. This is how the Bible teaches us to think about God, goodness, and the good works and good life to which we aspire.

But God does not reveal Himself to us through the Bible alone. While this is the primary light within which we may see the Lord, and the defining light for all other revelation of God (Ps. 36.9), it is not the only source of revelation from which we can learn more about God and His goodness.

The creation around us is also a source of divine revelation. God makes Himself known, and reveals His glory, through the works of creation:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There isno speech nor language
Wheretheir voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
Psalm 19.1-4

So clear and convincing is this revelation of God in creation, that it is sufficient to instill in every human being an undeniable and irrepressible knowledge of God: “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…” (Rom. 1.20) Every person thus knows God, but most people do not acknowledge Him, saying to themselves instead, “God does not exist” or “God doesn’t matter to me” or “I can make my own gods and serve them as I wish” or even “I’m more qualified than God to be god for me.”

Imagine how difficult that must be for unbelieving people! Here they are, made in the image and likeness of God – His handiwork, stamped with His divine essence – and all day long the creation is revealing their Creator and calling them to acknowledge and seek Him. Yet so often and so fervently have they said to themselves, like Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess, “It ain’t necessarily so,” that they’ve convinced themselves it necessarily is not so, and they go about being little deities unto themselves.

The persistent creation
Yet the creation does not relent. Every creature in creation is good. The creation is sanctified and special because God created it and is in it, throughout it, under it, and over it all. His grandeur oozes forth and flashes out continuously and often unexpectedly (Hopkins), and can catch even the most hardened unbeliever off guard, so that he finds himself standing amazed in the presence of God. Artists and tourists and lovers of nature in every generation have understood the unrelenting goodness of creation.

As in the closing scene in the film, Grand Canyon, when several troubled people, whose ways and woes have been detailed throughout the film, and whose troubles and worries seem to have no solution, come together to stand on the lip of the Grand Canyon. There, before the grandeur and majesty of that magnificent work of God, their fears dissolve, their woes are lifted, their haggard faces flood with peace, and they stand bonded together in wonder and love.

Creation witnesses continuously to the goodness of God. And even though people “have trod, have trod” on the creation, smearing and blearing it with their self-interested, ravenous ways, still, “nature is never spent;/There lives the dearest freshness deep down things…” which, upheld by the Word and Spirit of God, never fails to gleam and glisten with the glory and goodness of God:

And though the last lights off the black West went
        Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
        World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. (Gerard Manley Hopkins,“God’s Grandeur”)

Groaning and waiting
Still, creation “groans” under the burden of sin which humankind’s rebellion against God has occasioned (Rom. 8.19-22). Its goodness is too often concealed from us. The glory which creation everywhere refracts is smeared and bleared, and the creation awaits the liberating work of the sons and daughters of God, that it might fulfill its role in making known the goodness and glory of God.

We can look to creation to learn more of the goodness of God, and to be instructed, in the light of Scripture, how to know, enjoy, and promulgate His goodness in the land of the living. Let’s take a closer look.

For reflection
1.  Is it preferable to speak of the world and its creatures as creation rather than as nature? Explain.

2.  Can you think of some ways the creation has impressed you with the goodness of God?

3.  Paul says the groaning creation waits to be delivered “into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8.21). What does he mean? What obligation does this impose on us, with respect to the goodness and glory of God?

Next steps – Transformation: Start looking for evidence of the goodness of God in creation. Write down what you observe, and plan to meditate more deeply on your observations at some point.

T. M. Moore

Beginning today, ReVision will be published on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. T. M. offers other teaching newsletters for the remaining days of the week, and you can subscribe to these by using the pop-up at www.ailbe.org to revise your subscriptions.

What are you doing at 8:18 am? If you’re with Bruce Van Patter, you’re observing the goodness of God in your immediate surroundings. Take a look at Bruce’s column, and let your world come alive with goodness (click here). You can sign-up to receive 8:18 as Bruce posts it by using the pop-up at www.ailbe.org.

Creation reveals the glory and grandeur of God. Order T. M.’s book,
Consider the Lilies, to learn how to look at creation to discern God’s glory, and to use that in your walk with and work for the Lord (click here).

We look to the Lord to provide for our needs, and He does so through those who are served by this ministry. Please prayerfully consider becoming a supporter of The Fellowship of Ailbe with your financial gifts. You can send your tax-free contribution to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452, or use the Contribute buttonat the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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