“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:18-23 ESV)
A few weeks ago it snowed. I love snow especially great big soft flakes of snow falling lazily through the air. The thought that frozen water falls from our sky never ceases to bring me joy. It seems illogical that water would fall from the sky, let alone water that is frozen into intricate uniquely symmetric shapes. Rain, snow, sleet, it is just one way that I see the wonder and majesty of God’s creation. It reinforces the reality of God.
Last time we discussed the Gospel as the power of God for salvation, and now Paul begins to develop that teaching, and central to that teaching is: that we have drifted. God made it plain to mankind that he existed yet we drifted away. Even though God is revealed to us each time we look out the window at his creation we have had a hard time following him.
Paul tells us we can see his attributes of eternal power, and divine nature in creation. We see his power in the glory and wonder of his creation. When we consider why everything exists, and where it comes from we begin to realize that something or someone of great power must have brought it about. The delicate balance of our universe that allows life on this planet is mathematically impossible without God and that alone speaks to his great power. And everything in this world bears the fingerprints of the all powerful creator God.
However, its not only his power, but also his divine Nature on display. A nature seen in how this world works. For example it is built into the nature of this world to give of yourself. Soil gives of itself so plants have nutrients, plants grow, give fruit and then die giving nutrients back to the soil. If the leaves and fruit did not give back to the soil the soil would die and also the plants living in it. If the soil didn’t allow its nutrients to be taken the plants would die. Thus there is an unconscious giving built into our world. You can see it in the water cycle. Streams give water to oceans, oceans give it to the air and the air gives it back to the streams. If lakes become possessive of the water and do not let it flow the lake dies (think Dead Sea). Built into creation is a picture of a selfless giving love, the kind of love God himself is.
This law of giving was broken when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3, but we can still see it built into our world. Even among animals we find it. Herbivores live in a giving cycle with the earth. Carnivores and herbivores are also in a giving cycle. Herbivores give their life to carnivores who give balance and health to herbivore communities–in essence giving life back by taking it. Thus God’s nature– loving and giving of himself– is on full display in the world around us.
However, this means that when we deny God we deceive ourselves, or we never truly paid attention to the world. God’s creation leaves everyone without excuse about acknowledging God. But there are those who would deny God.
Paul points to those who decided to worship creation instead of the Creator, and he shows us how you and I can drift away. This drift causes us to pay more attention to the created things instead of the one behind it all who created it. We get so focused on the material objects of this universe that we fail to remember the one who creatively formed the universe, who powerfully holds it together, and fills it with his presence. And just as jumping off a plane without a parachute has consequences so does drift in our relationship with God. It causes us to be out of alignment.
Our challenge today is to examine our life to see if there is a part of God’s creation we have allowed to become more important in our life than him. Have we joined with the ancients in elevating creation over the creator? Is comfort, or money or pleasure become greater in your eyes than the creator? How about family, or how we look? Perhaps it is a person, maybe your spouse, or a celebrity. If we are to be aligned with God we must find where we have drifted and confess it and remember the one who created and sustains all of creation.