College Chaplain Reflection
October 7, 2015
-And God saw that it was good.-
My family often have a go at me because I have a really poor memory of my childhood. There are many people and events I have entirely forgotten, and indeed much of what I do -‘remember’ is more likely the projected memory of my sister filling in the blanks. Some things do stand out though; one being my recollection of a -‘deep and meaningful’ conversation I had with my cousin Shayne with whom I shared a tent while on holidays. We pondered a rather serious question. We were being taught about the story of Adam and Eve and God creating the world. All well and good, but at the same time we were also being taught about the Big Bang and about humans coming from monkeys. Which story were we supposed to believe and how were we to make sense of the whole thing?
I have come to realise that I was hardly the first to grapple with this question and that I certainly won’t be the last. And so, I thought it would be helpful to pay a particular focus to how we are to understand what the Scriptures teach us about God’s act of Creation. The first thing for us to take note of is that there is more than one account of Creation in the Scriptures. One story follows another in the book of Genesis, but there are also other versions given in the Psalms and echoes of an explanation in other books such as Job. Compare each text and we notice something; the precise details of how God goes about his act vary in each account but some solid themes shine through each version. This helps us to understand how exactly we are to read the texts. They are a means of teaching us certain truths about our existence. In other words, they are written in answer to that fundamentally human question of -‘Why’?
There are two common threads running through the various accounts that I want to draw particular attention to. The first is this; God created everything there is, both things we can see and even those things we can’t. He is the foundation of everything and everything is dependent on him. His act of Creation was an entirely free and independent one; no-one made him create the world and no-one helped him. Now, obviously this is a very strong statement of God’s sovereign power, but the point isn’t being made so strongly for his sake as if he needs to be defended. Rather, the point is hammered home for our sake and in our defence.
Consider this; if Creation has its source in God and was created by him, then Creation reflects his goodness and is fundamentally ordered. He willed it and so it is good. He made it and so it has order. Creation isn’t random, it has meaning and purpose. Where there is evil and suffering (and we will come back to consider this problem later), it is a distortion of the good and a disruption of the way things are meant to be. And no matter how bad things might get Creation’s identity as something fundamentally good can never be robbed or taken away.
The second common thread is this; at the summit of God’s work of creation is the particular act of his creation of humankind. Human beings, man and woman, have a unique and important place in his plan. There is a meaning and purpose to Creation. There is also a meaning and purpose to our existence as humans. The different Creation accounts help shed light on what sense we are to make of our existence. We will delve into these in the next piece, but for now we will just make this final point. The fundamental goodness of Creation is reflected in a very special way in the inalienable dignity of each and every human person. The words -and he saw that it was good- are addressed to everyone. He has willed every individual into existence and for each he has a unique plan. We would do well to always recognise this in the way we share this life with our fellow men.