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Association

Connect God's Word with His world.

The Mind of Christ in His World: Part 1 (3)

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters… Revelation 1.14, 15

Glory in images
We are exploring some disciplines which engage the mind for seeing the glory of God in the things He has made. These disciplines can lend soundness to our thinking, so that we see the world as Jesus does and have our minds enriched by conscious and thoughtful exposure to the glory of God. We began this part of our study of a sound mind by considering that God does reveal Himself in created things. Knowing this should encourage us to pay a bit more attention to them, if perhaps we might glimpse a bit of the glory God has concealed there (Prov. 25.2). A second discipline, association, helps us in discovering what God wants us to learn of Him from creation and culture.

Throughout the Scriptures, God uses items from the created world, including culture, to refer to Himself, His attributes, or His plan. These are so many and so familiar that we can easily overlook the meaning they convey, or fail to think with the mind of Christ about why these items are so apt as referents to God. We can fail to see what these suggest about the glory of God and the mind of Christ – whether we encounter them in His Word or in His world.

Consider just a few of these: God’s people are like arrows, which God, like a great archer, uses to subdue His enemies (Zech. 9.12). His voice is like the thunder and roar of mighty oceans (Ps. 29.3, 4), suggesting His power and immensity. He is wise like the ant and everywhere-present like the lizard (Prov. 24-28). He is the clothes-maker for lilies (Matt. 6.30) and the caretaker of birds (Matt. 6.26). A single blade of grass contains mysteries relating to His Kingdom (Mk. 4.26-28). We could multiply such examples by the score.

God wants us to know Him, and so He speaks to us in familiar terms and says, “I’m a little like that.”

The more we observe the creation and culture around us, the more we’ll collect objects and impressions that can lead to fruitful reflecting on the glory of God. This, in turn, will enable us to realize more of the mind of Christ. By learning to associate what we have observed in creation or culture with descriptions of God we read from His Word, we take up the second discipline of the glorious work of creational theology, the discipline of association.

Resting in thought
“This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas…” From this point on, as you are reading your Bible, use your creational theology notebook to jot down instances in which God refers to Himself in everyday forms or terms – clouds, stones, birds, shepherds, and more. From time to time, choose one of these to reflect on at length as part of your time in God’s Word. Ask yourself: How is God like this? Or, How do such things speak to us of God and His glory?

God uses familiar, everyday things and experiences to teach us something about Himself. As we reflect on the way He does this in His Word, we’ll train our minds to do the same as we observe such things in His world. We will learn to associate created things with how God uses created things to reveal Himself in His Word. God is speaking to us everywhere through the things He has made, and the associations He makes in Scripture can guide us in making fruitful associations between our observations and God Himself.

Scripture must be the touchstone and standard for all our work in creational theology, so the more time you invest in meditating on these Biblical references to creation and what they say to us of God, the better equipped you’ll be to tease out the hidden glory of God in your daily observations.

Some examples of association
A lengthy thunderstorm has just passed through your drought-parched community. Shall you merely ascribe this welcome relief to the chance vicissitudes of wind and humidity? Should you grouse and complain, as doubtless many will, that it’s all too little, too late?

No; instead, you will acknowledge the voice of the almighty God as He thunders His steadfast love and faithfulness upon a largely ungrateful people, who take for granted His common grace and spurn the grace He offers them in Jesus Christ. But you will be reminded that His voice is like many waters – threatening, perhaps, but refreshing, timely, and just what we need at any moment – and you will lift your voice with thanksgiving and praise to the God Who speaks to us in the rain.

Or when the gas flame leaps to life on your oven top, can you see the glory of God in it, watching over you with the flaming eyes of Christ (Rev. 1.14), providing for your needs through the mystery and reliability of fire?

Will you allow the colors of the world to speak to you of the wonder, majesty, purity, and beauty of Christ? And as you do, you’ll be more aware of His Presence and promises, and more attuned to His purposes and plans.

Scripture teaches us to associate things we see in creation with some aspect of God. By paying attention to such images and references in His Word, devoting ourselves to understanding them as deeply and completely as we can, we’ll be more alert to the ways things in God’s world point to Him as well; and we will train our minds to think the Lord’s thoughts after Him, which, in turn, will lend strength to our entire soul.

Remember, the same God is speaking to us in His Word and His world. The mind of Christ lies back of all God’s revelation, whatever the source. By observing the world more carefully and understanding the uses God makes of creation in His Word, we’ll associate our observations with the glory and mind of Christ which are being revealed to us in His world, and this will help us immensely in our ongoing effort to be renewed in the mind of the Lord.

For reflection
1.  Today, find something else to contemplate. This time, choose something which God uses in Scripture to reveal Himself – a stone perhaps, or clouds. Meditate on God’s use of this item. What do you learn about Him?

2.  Throughout the day, jot down as many observations of this item as you see – where you see it, what it looks like, how it’s being used. Do you discern anything more about God in these observations?

3.  At the end of the day, rest in thought about these observations. What has God shown you about Himself? Did paying attention to this item make you more aware of the presence of God with you throughout the day? Do you feel your mind being shaped to think about God in new ways? Give Him thanks and praise.

Next steps – Transformation: Begin giving thanks to God each time you make an observation and jot it down. You’ll see how practicing creational theology can be a great help in learning to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5.17).

T. M. Moore

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Thanks for your prayers and support
If you find ReVision helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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