Monday, August 1, 2016

Valuable Restoration

There have been times in the past, not recently, that someone expressed the knee-jerk sentiment that God put us on earth and then abandoned us to fend for ourselves. In the past I’ve tried to reason with such ones that no inventor ever puts years of energy, expenses and dedication into an invention only to turn his back on it. I then try to help them appreciate that even science has proven the literal 6 24-hour creative days that some fundamentalists claim is wrong. While the creative days shown in Genesis 1 could easily document tens of thousands of years, the amount of time that the earth was formless and desolate (Other versions: Gen.1:2), is unspecified. But to be clear this wasn't a child's messy finger painting that was easily discarded. It was and is an intentional effort that took time.

But now we are talking only of the last creative work on the 6th day. Genesis seems to refer to it in terms that are nothing short of the crowning glory of Jehovah’s work. Prior to putting man on earth, besides just making the untamed wilds of the planet, Jehovah prepared a pleasant surrounding. For a while, Genesis remarks that God would talk to Adam at a particular time of day. Genesis also cites that before Eve came on the scene, Adam had time to name the animals. (It is noteworthy that the actual mention of God speaking with Adam didn’t occur until after Adam’s sin. But the verse does say that Adam recognized Jehovah’s voice, so it was not a first-time occurrence.) Again, point being that God took time to prepare a garden for Adam, to get to know Adam and let Himself be known by Adam.

All the above is to prove the point that at no time and in no way was it ever God’s intent to leave us to our devices. He fondly cared for and continues to care for us. So what about the damaged relationship? I recently read an article that I thought was something that happened within the past year, but when I went back to search for the article it turned out to be an event that appeared in the New York Times in 1988. It was a story about a Leonardo da Vinci painting that had been shot by a madman. (In case the NYT removes the article, a Backup is stored here.)

Now if we stop to think about it, there were at least two options: 1) Leave the damaged piece as is (for fear of further damaging the delicate art piece). 2) Take painstaking efforts to restore the painting as close to the original as possible. The choice made was the latter. (There could also have been a sentiment of, "Oh, who needs this one painting? There are others,” but no such sentiment was even voiced.) If you read the article, you'll see the extensive and meticulous lengths they went through for this painting. No effort was to be spared in restoring it to its original beauty.

Now, what of we humans? Just how valuable and precious are we to our creator? The Bible leaves no doubt when it states: “By this the love of God was revealed in our case, that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might gain life through him.” (1 John 4:9; John 3:16) So he didn't choose another angel, not even a Cherub. He didn't choose a human already living and then say, if this one stays loyal (unlike Adam his ancestor), then I will forgive mankind. No, he sent someone so precious in his eyes that the Bible says it was God's only-begotten son. Now, critics have tried to dismiss the idea that Jesus truly was a son, but that's another discussion. We believe what the Bible plainly states. We don't try to rationalize it because of some false preconceived idea that Jesus is God and therefore cannot be God's son. Actually such an idea implies the Bible is a liar.

But there is another point in the illustration here: Those restoring the painting wanted not something better than the original, they wanted the original, nothing more, nothing less. Now, since God’s original purpose for the earth was to have it filled with human life, why would he change his purpose because we were “shot” (with sin and imperfection)? Rather, as I’ve argued many times in my blog, he would restore things back the way they were before. Again, God doesn’t need more angels in heaven. He has uncountable billions of them. Taking us out of the environment he designed for us does nothing for him and nothing for us. Some may argue that they would be “closer to God,” but that really is a small-minded physical reference that has no scriptural basis. Those who truly come to know their God, don’t need a physical location to love him and feel a real bond. (Acts 17:27; James 4:8) But still some will pout, “Well, I want to be in heaven with God.” Sorry, but serving God has never been about what we selfishly want. We accept whatever assignment and placement we are given.

For myself, the relationship I’ve developed with God has helped me appreciate he truly is the God of all comfort. Now as my own life comes to an end, I am looking forward (if he allows) to being resurrected to life right here back on earth. I am very content in seeing all creation reunited.

1 comment:

  1. That Deist watchmaker view of God you’ve alluded to Bart is pretty common I’m afraid; kind of a semi-safe somewhere-in-between position for the human who isn’t comfortable acknowledging the immanently-near Creator God to whom we’re personally accountable…and the untenable position of atheism or agnosticism (it’s even a notch up from the concept of the abstract, impersonal, non-sentient creative Reality that keeps no accounts whatsoever for the human to answer).

    I enjoy your writing Bart. And even though I don’t agree with some things you say (theologically speaking), I still appreciate the insight & thoughtfulness you exhibit in what you share.