“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, June 20, 2010

All Creation Bears the Image of the Creator

...Perhaps the greatest symbol of all is us. Human beings are made in God's image, and many human qualities and actions (thinking, feeling, knowing, loving, etc.) are to be found first and foremost in our Maker. Scripture speaks of God's thoughts and knowledge, of his love and joy, much as it speaks of human thought and emotion.*

If we look back over these many images, it becomes clear that all of creation bears the image of the Creator. The natural world is marked with his "invisible qualities" (Romans 1:20), human relationships bear a fragrance of the divine, the whole of history as God's Story reflects and reveals the Author. Not just elements of creation, but creation itself - the whole of it, all reality - is a "layer" that reflects the greater reality of God himself.

This dynamic Creator-creation relationship is, I think, a beautiful design of God's. On the one hand, there is a deep connection between God and his creation. Everything in creation is striving towards God and bearing his mark and shining his light, and if Christianity is right, the connection goes much deeper than this. God, the Creator himself, has entered creation and become part of it in Jesus Christ. In the miracle and mystery of Incarnation, the bond between the Creator and the created is forever sealed, and the new things God has brought into being are gathered back to him. Created beings, whether humans or angels or of some other form, can know and love their Maker, who made them to share in his glory and beauty.

Yet on the other hand, there is and always will be an infinite chasm between God and created things. Creation changes and grows, yet God is eternal, transcendent, unchanging, and in a very real sense forever beyond his created designs, unknowable in his fullness. Lewis writes of "the Abyss of the Father, into which if a creature drop down his thoughts for ever he shall hear no echo return to him." Because of his very nature as the Uncreated One, nothing he makes could ever be on the same level. In summary, then, the relationship between Creator and creation can be described in terms of both an unbreakable bond and, in a different sense, an uncrossable chasm. Once again we find the beauty of paradox.

*See, for example, Psalm 139:17, Romans 11:33, Isaiah 55:9, John 17:24.

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