There is a sneaking suspicion that lurks in the back of most of our minds.
A suspicion that colors the way we look at ourselves as well as the world around us.
It is the suspicion that sin has completely undone the goodness of Creation.
It is the suspicion that sin has broken our world and our bodies so thoroughly that there is nothing left to it but the ugly.
And if we view Creation through these dark lenses, we will treat it with contempt and shame. Even more, we will increasingly view the world, including our own bodies, as though they have nothing at all to do with God.
We will fall in line with our culture’s idea that we can live perfectly well in this world without ever thinking about how to consider with our lives the glorious reality of God’s Creation.
Without beginning our salvation story with Creation itself, without including in the gospel the amazingness of God-in-flesh, we are left with a hollow salvation, one that does the bare minimum to get us through the gates rather than one that accomplishes abundance upon abundance of redemption.
When God the Son died and resurrected, He redeemed not just our souls, but our physical bodies and the entire material world around us as well.
The stuff of creation is what God the Son redeems through his becoming flesh, bearing our sin, enduring death, and rising to life. When we have a truncated doctrine of creation, we have a truncated understanding of salvation. ~ Jonathan Wilson, theologian and author of God’s Good World
Romans 8 speaks of creation in the same terms it uses to speak of men. It speaks of creation as waiting to be redeemed, as yearning to be set free from bondage, as groaning as it waits in the exact same way that we groan as we wait for our own redemption.
We groan indeed. We groan as we labor through the pain of childbirth, we groan as we struggle to live life well and fail over and over to obey, we groan as we age and approach death.
We are a part of Creation and we groan and wait and hope right along with all of this material world for the return of Christ and for the redemption and perfection of all that we know.
And we would be a bit more successful in living our lives more beautifully if we would continue to consider the ways in which Creation should guide us toward or away from different patterns of life.
The glories of Creation and the ways in which God continues to interact with Creation have the possibility of helping us to understand how a “well-ordered life in the body presents opportunities for glorifying God and enjoying Him forever by participating more fully in the glorious giftedness of Creation”. (Ken Meyers of Mars Hill Audio Journal)
There is not room in a blog to explore such huge ideas in any depth at all. I only hope to spur on thought and seeking and exploring. Share with me what God shows you?
Today is going to be a bit different. One small difference is that I’m not going to use pictures. As you read on, perhaps you’ll understand why. The main difference? Usually, I write about things that have a fairly wide range of interest for people rather than writing for parents or musicians or thirty-four-year-old women who love art and logic. Today, though, I feel as though God is asking me to speak directly to my women friends. To be honest, I’ve actually been avoiding this essay for a while. I’ve found, though that it’s usually best not to disobey God. To my men friends: please don’t go away. Keep reading if you like and hear some things that could teach you how to better love all of the women in your life. The impetus for these thoughts was a conversation I overheard at a Hearts at Home conference last month. Yes, I was eavesdropping. It’s a really bad habit of mine. My darling husband has tried his best to break me of it, but people always have such interesting things to say! I can’t help being curious about people I see. The two women were talking about a marathon that one of them had just completed. My own thought was “Wow! That’s impressive. What discipline and what an amazing accomplishment.” The comment of her companion? “Wow! No wonder you’re as skinny as a stick!” My heart grew just a bit heavy as I glanced back at them. May I say something here in this space that we don’t talk about much, if ever? Something that is a really hard thing because this place in our hearts is so very sore and tender? All of the women I know, with whom I have spoken about these things, struggle with their body image. All.
Small, large, tall, little, plain or stunning by this world’s standards…all. If you do not and never have struggled with this, you are in a blessed minority. I am so grateful that you have not had to hurt over this. Will you keep reading so you can know how to help the rest of us? Sweet friends. Our world, our culture, screams at us that we should look a certain way, that our bodies should be a certain shape. Most of us (all of us?), at the least, go through periods where we do not like what we see in the mirror. Some of us never like what we see. With our world forcing impossible images in front of our hearts and minds, could we, as sisters in Christ, vow to stop talking to each other in the manner I overheard? Could we stop complimenting each other on how skinny we are and bragging about how little we eat? Could we, instead, praise each other for working hard at a difficult task, for doing yet another week’s laundry for our family, for working on the fruit of self-control, for spending a little extra time with God yesterday? Yes, we should take care of our bodies. Yes, we should encourage each other to eat well and exercise so as to stay healthy and to have enough energy to accomplish the tasks that God sets before us. But could we please stop reinforcing our culture’s obsession with the size of our waists? We seem to think, and to communicate to each other, that we are made beautiful by what we do or don’t do, rather than by the simple fact that God made us. To paraphrase James: my sisters, this should not be! We are called to be different, to speak God’s truth to each other. Out of love for each other, out of love for your sister who is struggling to see herself as a beautiful work of God, could we all promise to choose different compliments? The words that we use with each other can either reinforce our culture’s perspective that we are how we look or our God’s view that we are beautiful because He made us. My beautiful sisters (and you amazing men who stuck with me!), will you choose to be mindful of how you speak? Will you promise to use words that encourage rather than words that make us want to either run into a darkened room to hide God’s amazing creation or to take sinful pride in what we have accomplished in our own strength? If you wish, we could use the comment space as a safe place to talk about this subject. We have only kind words and compassionate hearts here.