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ReVision

Integration

The third discipline of creational theology.

The Mind of Christ in His World: Part 1 (4) 

And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. Ecclesiastes 1.13

This burdensome task
Solomon was wise because he understood that everything on earth has its proper place in the divine scheme of things – “under the heavens” as he put it. Everything we see or hear, every experience and fact of creation, all of it has a place in the divine economy (Eccl. 3.1-8) and can reveal something about the glory and mind of God.

And God has put eternity in our hearts – the ability to peer through temporal reality into the eternal counsels of God – so that we can know Him and His world, using the mind of Christ, if only imperfectly (1 Cor. 2.16; Eccl. 3.11). We enrich our minds by seeking and discerning the glory of God all around us; and a sound mind helps to maintain a well-kept heart and a strong soul.

Creational theology is the work that lets us get at the glory of God which He has concealed in creation (Prov. 25.). This entails six disciplines, and we have thus far considered two of them: observation and association. If you have begun jotting down observations of your world and associating those observations with how God uses such items in Scripture, you’ll be doing the same kind of work Solomon did.

You’ll also probably discover that such work takes time, can be a little tedious, and doesn’t always yield the experience of God’s mind or glory that you’d hoped. Reading creation as a book of divine revelation is hard work – it’s a discipline, and we struggle with disciplines, simply because they are hard work.

But if we keep at it, we might learn, like Solomon, to understand the place of everything in our lives within the divine economy and see our experience in the world as a means for knowing God and being renewed in His mind.

But for this to occur, we’ll need to practice the third discipline of creational theology.

Be bold, but cautious
As we press ahead in our work of creational theology, we’ll want to integrate our observations of the world with the Scriptural associations they suggest. That is, we need to reach some conclusions about what we’ve seen or learned. Here we will make bold to offer some concise statement describing the glory of God we have discerned in the things He has made and we have observed. 

The activity of integration involves summarizing what we have observed in creation and the Scriptures in our own words, so that we make a statement concerning what God has spoken to us about the things we have seen.

We will be bold but cautious here, bold because we’re making a statement about the glory of God or the mind of Christ which we have “read” in some aspect of the creation, and cautious because we understand all such statements are conditional only.

The conclusions we reach about God and His glory, as we integrate our observations and associations, are not to be considered normative. That is, they are not true or prescriptive on the same level that Scripture is true. Rather, they express our heightened awareness of God, enhance or clarify our understanding of Him, deepen our experience of Him, and bring us into His presence in more consistent and meaningful ways. While we expect everyone to read the same truth of God in His Word, we do not expect everyone to read the same truth as we do from His world.

But that does not mean that the truth we discern about God’s glory and mind in creation is not true or real. It is merely conditional, and not normative, but it may be enriching and exciting nonetheless.

The world a battleground
Our world may, in many ways, seem out of sorts and wrong – not what God would want it to be. But we may reflect from such observations that “This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done…” The creation groans under the burden of human sin, and that condition of groaning can make it difficult for us to discern the glory of God in His world.

However, God is still bringing His redemptive work to bear on creation as we, His people, take up the good works for which He has redeemed us in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8.19-21; Eph. 2.10). By integrating your observations with Scriptural associations, you train yourself to respond to the “voice” of God as He speaks to you everywhere. That passing thunderstorm over the sun-burnt grass says, “I will never fail you nor forsake you; wait on Me, and do not despair.” The reliability of your office computer and the fruitful work it allows you to produce can speak of the steadfast love and faithfulness of God, Who never sleeps, and Who causes all our work to prosper in His Name. Such observations, associated with similar items in Scripture and integrated into some conclusion, can greatly enrich our minds and enhance or sense of God’s Presence with us.

Your growing sensitivity to the presence of God’s glory in His creation may even lead you to some more conscious and deliberate, hands-on work of creation-keeping, as in gardening, or caring for your lawn, becoming part of an environmental effort, or discovering new ministry uses for your computer, art work, music, baking, corresponding, or so much more.. You will find it difficult to say to yourself, with increasing specificity, “God is speaking to me in creation,” and not expect to take creation – and culture as well – rather more seriously.

Once you have matched your observations with relevant Scripture, integrate them into a statement, prayerfully considered, carefully crafted, and boldly set forth, that will be for you a record of how the glory of God has come to your attention in your daily walk with and work for the Lord. Then pray that statement back to the Lord with praise and thanksgiving for what He is showing you of Himself from the things He has made. He extends grace to encourage and edify you through the works of creation and culture, and He delights to receive thanks and praise, as we shall see (2 Cor. 4.15).

For reflection
1.  Why is it important to say something about the observations we have made, and the ways we associate these with the revelation of God in Scripture?

2.  How might such works of integrating revelation in creation with revelation in Scripture serve as conversation-starters with people in your Personal Mission Field? How did Jesus use them?

3.  Make some statement about the observations and associations you have made thus far. What have you seen of God’s glory, or learned about the mind of Christ from the book of creation?

Next steps – Conversation: Reflect on the work you have done to this point, observing and associating items from around you, and including your statement of integration about one of your observations. Talk with God about what you are learning, and give Him thanks and praise.

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.
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