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 people are without excuse.
One of the most important questions we must be able to answer as Christians is that of exclusivity, how we can claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation. It often comes in the form of a question like this:
“What about people who have never heard the name of Jesus? Are they to be condemned?”
God answers this question in the above verse from Romans: Every single human being, as a part of creation, is equipped to recognize the Creator in creation itself and through nature alone is able to come to some understanding of his attributes. In fact, John suggests we can come to know Jesus himself when he writes:
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
My husband and I just enjoyed a wonderful weekend on a lake in the mountains of Virginia with friends. As I read this passage it inspired me to tune in to the beauty of our surroundings with an eye to the attributes of God in our current setting. Here are some things we identified.
The first thing that came to mind is how dynamic nature is. Even as you notice a majestic tree in full bloom its beauty is changing. If you come back to it in a few weeks its leaves will no longer be green, but brilliant hues of red, orange and yellow. A few weeks after that it will stand bare, stoic and angular, its frame laid bare by the changing of the seasons…only to be renewed again with the burst of spring. And yet each year the tree is new and unique.
We too are not who we once were. The cells in our body die and are replenished constantly. So we are comprised of different cells today than when we first began.
The great Impressionists painted the same scenes over and over again, illustrating how they were transformed by changes in light, the movement of the seasons and subtle shifts in the landscape itself.
How glorious heaven must be as the Creator Himself eternally morphs, evolves and reveals new dimensions of himself, all worthy of worship.
We are able to comprehend nature because of its simplicity; for example, enjoying the refreshment of a drink of water. And yet, the more we investigate and discover, the more complex we find every element of nature to be, both in and of itself and in how it interacts with the rest of creation.
From the time I was a child I wondered how ants perceived human beings. Are we merely a shadow to them? Do they discern a piece of our foot and consider it to be the whole, unable to see or process what is behind the flesh?
So it is with God. We come to know him in nature, through the person of Jesus and by the indwelling of the Spirit, and yet we are incapable of ever comprehending the fullness of who He is.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55: 8-9
Nature’s colors, sounds and textures present themselves independently and in relation to one another, creating a rich tapestry.
To experience nature is to engage all of our senses, what we see animated by what we hear, enriched by what we feel and together creating what we experience.
And so it is with God. He engages all of our senses and our minds. God is wild and uncontainable, invoking our wonder, fear and excitement as we make space to experience who he is in all the ways that we are invited to know him: in nature, through personal reflection, through loving others and through the love of others.
To be still and observe nature replenishes and renews our souls. It is why we watch sunrises and sunsets, hike trails, walk along beaches or sit on the dock of a lake and tune our senses to what is happening around us.
It is the same with God. In fact, he encourages us to practice this very habit:
Be still and know I am God.
As we quiet our souls and learn to be, we invite the Lord to refresh and renew us, and reconnect to the peace found in synchronizing with his eternal rhythm.
Nature is destructive but never destroyed. Forests burn. Earthquakes flatten. Droughts eradicate. But never wholly. The ashes fertilize new life from the remnant, and there always is a remnant.
God is fierce. He is constantly refining and renewing what he has created, bringing forth something richer, stronger and more like him.
So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:7
It’s Sunday. Take time to be still today and take in the sights, sounds, textures and fragrances of your Creator. Invite him to reveal a new aspect of himself to you through his creation.
And consider whom you can invite to join you. This is perhaps one of the simplest, least threatening ways to invite another to come to know God.
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.