Connect (2)

Let God's works lead you to serve the Lord.

Growing in the Knowledge of Christ (8) 

O LORD, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
Psalm 104.24

The witness of creation
We have been saying, following the teaching of Scripture, that the works of God in creation and culture display His handiwork, manifest His wisdom, and thus can serve as guiderails along the path of increasing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The purpose of divine revelation – whether in His Word or His works – is threefold. First, God displays His many excellencies – His immensity, greatness, beauty, wisdom, incomprehensibility, holiness, power, goodness, and more – so that we might know Him better. Supremely, He has revealed Himself in Jesus; if we wish to know God, we must let all our knowing lead us to Jesus. In and through Him, we may come to know God as fully as possible.

Second, God reveals Himself to us so that knowing Him, we might increase in love for Him. Loving God is that for which human beings have been created. It is our raison d’être, source of all joy, means to all goodness, fount of all wisdom, wellspring of all wondrous mysteries, and purest satisfaction of all our desires.

As we increase in love for Jesus, we will know more of joy, peace, purpose, and resolve, so that we bear Kingdom fruit in our lives and by our endeavors. And this is the third reason God reveals Himself to us, that knowing and loving Him, we might serve Him in every aspect of our lives, worshiping and bearing witness to Him in everything we do.

Jesus has called us His disciples – learners – to know Him increasingly, and to devote ourselves untiringly to the study of His Word and His works, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.

This life of learning to which Jesus calls us is difficult – a “burdensome task”, as Solomon put it. We must be firmly anchored in His Word; but from there, we must seek Him in all His works. The Lord rejoices in His works (Ps. 104.31); and He commands us to do so as well, because by studying the works of God, we may know, love, and – as we connect what we’re learning with our everyday lives – serve Him more consistently and fruitfully.

How can the works of God lead us to serve Him? Let’s consider three ways by examining a well-known hymn.

In the hymn, “This Is My Father’s World”, Maltbie Babcock (d. 1901) meditates on the creation around him, concentrating, and comparing and combining his observations, to derive some revelation of Christ from them. In each of the three stanzas, Babcock lets the works of God lead him to an action step, thus connecting the revelation of Christ in creation with Babcock’s calling as a disciple. Here’s the first stanza:

This is my Father’s world,
And to my list’ning ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.

Note that Babcock takes the time to listen to the creation – concentrating on the sounds immediately around him, and imagining those that pulse throughout the entire creation. He finds this listening to the combined sounds of creation – the wind through the trees, birds singing, perhaps the trickling of water somewhere nearby – leads him to think of the “music of the spheres”, that ancient notion that all the planets and galaxies emit harmonious sounds too sublime for us to hear, but essential to the integrity and order of the cosmos.

He reflects that this world is his Father’s world, and He is shining out through all the sounds around him. And this makes him want to rest in the secure knowledge of the sovereign wisdom, power, and love of God.

Rest is an important way of serving the Lord, as He Himself has indicated by setting one day of each week aside for us to do just that. As we rest in the sovereignty of God, we banish anxiousness, refresh our souls, refortify our bodies, and delight in God as our Creator and Redeemer. God commands us to rest, and it is an important part of our service to Him that we rest as He intends.

Praise and proclaim
In the second stanza, Babcock is caught up in creation’s proclamation of God’s praise:

This is my Father’s world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

Babcock lets the praise of creation instruct him in how to praise and proclaim the Lord, and he composed this hymn for precisely that purpose. Babcock saw Jesus in songbirds, the dawn of a new day, and a white lily, and he heard Him rustling in the grass wherever he went. All these observations come together in Babcock’s hymn, and they and he teach us that praising the Lord and proclaiming His beauty and goodness are works we must take up as well. Creation declares God’s sovereign Presence and love, and Babcock connected the praise of creation with his own need to praise and proclaim the Lord.

Finally, Babcock turns to the world of men and culture, and he observes that much work remains to be done in turning the world rightside-up for Jesus:

This is my Father’s world:

O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

Wrong is everywhere strong, and the struggle for men’s souls continues. But God, Who is sovereign throughout creation, is sovereign over nations and cultures as well. Jesus will not be satisfied until all the world He has reconciled to the Father is in fact restored to Him, in all its variegated goodness. And this hymn is Babcock’s declaration of intent to stay engaged, to join in Jesus’ work of redeeming the world. Through this hymn, for well over 100 years now, Maltbie Babcock has connected with believers like you and me to celebrate the beauty and sovereignty of Jesus, resting in Him, praising and proclaiming Him, and joining Him in His ongoing work of making all things new.

And if Maltbie Babcock can connect himself and so many others with the sovereign rule and reconciling work of Jesus, revealed through the works of God in creation, then we can do the same. As we discern the Presence and power of Jesus in the things of this world, let us make connections to our daily lives – our priorities, plans, ways of working, and opportunities for witness. And let us share these with others, that they might realize the benefit we are gaining by thus growing in our knowledge of, love for, and service to our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Reflection
1. Why should we expect creation to reveal things about Jesus? What kinds of things would you expect to learn from creation?

2. How can you make sure that what you learn from creation makes a connection with your daily life?

3. Creation offers fruitful opportunities for bearing witness to Jesus, as we see in Acts 14.17. Explain.

Next Steps – Demonstration: What one thing can you learn about Jesus from observing His works today? Be patient. Concentrate on your surroundings. Let the Scriptures speak into your observations. Then jot down what you learn about Jesus, and make a connection from that with something in your daily life. Commit what you have learned to the Lord in prayer.

T. M. Moore

One place to begin learning is in understanding the times and the world around us. Our book, Understanding the Times, outlines the broad scope of what we need to understand to live as witnesses in this secular world. Order your copy by clicking here. To see how and why the small stuff of your life matters, order a copy of our book Small Stuff (click here).

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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.
Books by T. M. Moore