Lenses & Building Blocks Part 1: A broken world

The limits of our broken world… Putting on the right lenses… 

When we want to know God, we need to be clear about where we need to look for God to know Him. The first place we often look is creation…

  • Creation’s original intent: a window to see GodStars blurred edges

The Bible is quite clear that, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Since God created the universe, like any author, painter, sculptor, musician or potter, all of creation bears His signature; as Ps. 19:1-4 points out, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world”.

God has made Himself known through His artistry, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). No wonder, as Isaac Newton studied gravity, he exclaimed, “O God! I think Thy thoughts after Thee!” Stephen Hawking, when considering the fine-tuning of the universe, concludes, “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe would have begun in just this way except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us”.

So, yes, there is a sense that when we look at nature, we see something of the glory of God: God’s majestic artistry displayed for everyone to see every day. However, there is a problem if this is our only avenue to know God…

  •  Creation today: a broken window

There are a lot of aspects to nature that tell us something is wrong. The universe seems to be in a continual downward spiral of decay, filled with novas, dying stars and black holes. To use an analogy, if the universe was a tapestry, it is a tapestry that has many burnt threads and holes, patterns lost in nothingness. Closer to home, we see a world governed by entropy, continually moving towards disorder/chaos and losing energy. Our eco-systems are dominated by death, being in a continual struggle for survival.

We see beauty, but we instinctively know something is wrong with this creation. If creation was a window to see God’s glory, it is a broken window. It is a little bit like the one ruin in the Noordhoek Milkwood forest. The ruins indicate that there was a great house, but it is now a shadow of itself. The problem we observe is this: in Gen. 3:17, God cursed the ground because of humanity’s rebellion. In judgment, we read in Rom. 8:20ff, “creation was subjected to frustration…” and is in, “bondage to decay”.  It has become, to some extent, as the Ecclesiastes 1:2 puts it, “meaningless”.

This poses a serious problem to knowing God.  Trying to know God Page blurred edgesby only looking at nature is like trying to read a book that has fallen into a puddle of mud and was afterwards left in the scorching sun and picked up by a band of toddlers… it is smudged, brittle and has lost some key pages. You will have great difficulty making any sense of the story the book was supposed to convey. Similarly, Creation is smudged, brittle and has lost its clarity. It is no longer “true nature”, as 2nd Century author Tertullian put it, but “false nature”, since it is marred/smudged/ruined by sin.

With God’s artistry damaged by the rebellion of humanity, we discover that God made Himself known in a much more personal way than the book called “creation”: God the author of creation stepped into creation to make Himself known…

  •  A new window: Jesus

In Heb. 1:1-2, the Bible tells us that in the past (Old Testament) God the Father, “spoke to our forefathers through prophets and in various ways”. God made Himself known by speaking into His creation. However, as the author continues, “but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son (Jesus), whom He appointed Heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe”. 2000 years ago, God the Son stepped personally into creation, to speak to us face to face. To continue the book analogy, the Author of the book of creation, dropped His pen and climbed into the pages of His own book, making Himself part of the world of His book, to speak to us.

Having stepped into His own creation, we need to realise, as v. 3 shows, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being”… Basically, Jesus, God-incarnate, is the perfect window to see and know God. Jesus is, as Tertullian would put it, “True nature”.

That’s one of the primary reasons why Jesus came, so that we can know God personally again and see God as He is. As Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life… If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well…” (Jn. 14:6). Consequently, in our pursuit to know God, we need to realise that the best place to start looking is not creation, but Jesus as He is revealed in the Scriptures…