The Mind of Christ in His World: Part 1 (2)
He does great things past finding out,
Yes, wonders without number.
If He goes by me, I do not see Him;
If He moves past, I do not perceive Him… Job 9.10, 11
Did you see that?
Most of us are just like Job. We know that God is speaking to us everywhere, going on ahead of us, flashing forth from niches, nooks, and crannies, moving on before, beside, and behind us. We know this because we believe His Word, and His Word tells us that God is revealing His glory in His world (cf. Ps. 19.1-4).
But we don’t “see Him” or “perceive” His presence – not as much as we might, at any rate. This is in part because we have not trained our mind to see Him. We aren’t looking for His glory or paying attention to His Presence in the world. Thus we fail to discern the revelation He pours out, day by day and night by night, to tell us of His glory and love.
But it’s also because we don’t know how to read the revelation of God in the book of creation. We must learn how to read the Word of God; it’s logical to expect that we should also have to learn how to read the revelation of God in the world of God.
A sound mind is crucial to a well-kept heart and a strong soul. And a sound mind patterns itself after the mind of Christ, to think His thoughts after Him and be guided by all His Word. Thus, the more revelation of Jesus we can absorb, beginning with His Word, the more we may expect to increase in a sound mind. And since revelation of Jesus comes not only from His Word but also from His world, we must train our mind to discern His glory in the everyday things all around us (Prov. 25.2). This is the work of creational theology.
Creational theology is the discipline that can help us learn to read the book of creation and culture, and creational theology beginsas we train our senses to discern and discover the words God is speaking to us everywhere.
Reading God’s world – practicing creational theology – involves six disciplines. Just as we must learn how to read the Word of God – read it all, read for our souls and lives, read for the culture and times, and so forth – so we can learn to read the creation. And reading creation begins with the discipline of observation.
Just as, when we’re reading Scripture, we ask ourselves, “What’s going on here? What am I seeing? What can I learn about Jesus here?”, so it is with creational theology. When we realize that the glory of God is revealed in His world, we will begin to look at the world with a different purpose. We’ll want to see God and His glory in created things, and to discover whatever can help us grow in the mind of Christ. Wonders without number await us, but we must learn to see them.
So we need to pay attention. We need to practice the discipline of observation.
To observe anything closely, you need to pause, look, and get your mind in gear. Focus. Describe. Perhaps even jot down some thoughts in a notebook or on a 3 x 5 card (I use both). We won’t always remember or have the time to reflect deeply on what we observe, but if we write down even the slightest impressions, these can lead to fruitful seasons of discovering God’s glory in the things He has made. If you have a cell phone, use the camera to capture some image you’ll want to think about later in the day.
Set aside time for this activity, so that you enter it alert, focused, observant, and ready to think with the mind of Christ about the things He has made and the ways they proclaim His glory.
What to observe
But what should we observe?
First, sounds: “This is my Father’s world, and to my list’ning ears, all nature sings…” The gurgle of coffee percolating, the ominous rumble of an approaching thunderstorm, the hum and whir of a well-tuned engine, the sweet whisper of a gentle breeze, the various songs of garden birds, the music you’ve chosen – all these and more can provoke us to ponder the wonder, mystery, majesty, and delight of God. What images, adjectives, or other descriptive terms come to mind as you listen carefully to the world around you?
Next, sights: “the morning light, the lilies white, declare their Maker’s praise…” Note the gentle, sloping lines of a mountain ridge, the symmetry of a beautiful tree, the destruction of a natural habitat by flood or fire – reminders of the consequences of the fall – even the different smiles of the people we see each day. Write down colors – how many different shades of yellow, orange, and red can you note in an autumn forest? Note the shapes and sizes of birds, flowers, and foods. What patterns, geometric shapes, or forms of motion can you note?
Similarly, you can enlist your senses of taste, touch, and smell in this royal quest to discover the glory God has concealed in the things He has made. How does a kitchen filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread cause you to respond? And what about the flavor and texture of that bread as you hold and bite into it?
Together, our senses can become a research team for sharpening our skills of observation, helping us to pay more attention to the creation as we make notes, jot down sketches, record immediate impressions – all of which can become fodder for deeper meditation throughout the day or at more convenient times. Don’t worry about trying to discover something “theological” in your observations; simply get them down on paper or in a quick snapshot. There will be time later to layer on insights from Scripture and the thoughts of others.
Remember that, in a good painting, a well-crafted poem, or a powerful musical composition, nothing is included by chance. Every line, phrase, stroke, note, color, meter, and rest contributes to the glory of the whole. So it is with the places God is everywhere speaking to us, every day of our lives. He is making Himself known, but we will only become adept at seeing Him if we train our minds to observe.
Begin observing God’s world. This is the first discipline for discerning the glory of God in His world. Train your mind to see and respond to the creation and culture around. And let these times of observation contribute to your seeing God as He moves past and goes by you.
1. Look around you until you find one thing you might like to observe. Write it down. Now ask, “What was it about this item that arrested my attention?” Jot down whatever comes to mind. Then carry this with you for the day.
2. Why do you think believers, like Job, aren’t more observant of the presence of the Lord throughout the day?
3. How can believers help one another practice this discipline of observing the creation to discover the glory and mind of Christ?
Next steps – Preparation: As you go into your day, make sure you’re ready to observe the world with the mind of Christ. Set your mind in prayer, carry note cards or a note book, and ask the Lord to show you His glory throughout the day.
T. M. Moore
Have you discovered The InVerse Theology Project podcast? Once a week we publish an episode dealing with one of the six primary theological disciplines, including creational theology. To listen to the current episode in this category – Ephrem the Syrian’s hymns on The Pearl – click here. For a deeper study of creational theology, order a free copy of our book, Consider the Lilies: A Plea for Creational Theology by clicking here.
All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here. Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (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.