It amazes me when I pause to think of all God has created to testify to His goodness and wisdom.
The world around us and the people in it are not just arbitrary products of a spectacular accident, but lovingly crafted works of art, designed with precision to reflect the Artist.
Romans 1:20 says “…His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse” (CSB). There was purpose and intent behind what has been made, namely, to display for universal understanding the ever-existing, divine force of a Creator-King with undeniable preeminence.
The Greek word that we translate into the phrase “what He has made” is poiēma. From that word, we derive the English word poem. Poetry is one of the most precise and beautiful creative expressions. A poem is not just a random mix of words but a carefully paced working of alliteration, rhyme, metaphor, and simile.
Creation is also a work of artistic expression, positioned to be marveled at and appreciated. We are a part of that display.
Ephesians 2:10 is the only other verse in the New Testament that uses the same word poiēma. “For we are His workmanship (poiēma) [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus…” (AMP).The fingerprints of divine creativity are on the very rise and fall of our breath.Click To Tweet
I’ve never been to a great historical museum, such as the Louvre, in Paris, France, but hopefully, one day I will experience the thrill of seeing those renown works of art in person. Can you imagine though? Imagine yourself there with a friend for the first time, and from the moment you step foot inside, while you are marveling at the ornate palace walls and holding your breath as you study the Mona Lisa with your very own eyes, your friend doesn’t look up once. She is staring at her cell phone and seems completely oblivious and uninterested in the singular opportunity before her. Hypothetically, that is a tragic scenario and would probably result in us shaking some sense into our fellow tourist, yet I wonder how different that scenario is from our regard for the handiwork that surrounds us.
What joy might be felt, what marvel experienced if we would take time to meditate upon the visible and invisible wonders of creation?
In a summary of Jonathan Edwards’ essays on beauty, Owen Strachan writes:
If one stopped to look at the flight of spiders or the soft light of a rainbow, one saw a reflection of a figure still more beautiful than these; if one only stopped to listen, one could hear, however faintly, a distant song calling a fallen world to discover the beauty of the Lord.
Do you hear the song?
I wonder how often our joy and gratitude is sapped by a cultural infatuation with expendable value.
Our greatest attention and highest praise often go to the new release, the headline, the upgrade.
We fully obsess with what is new and passing and we know not far behind it is the next innovation. We are free–even encouraged–to move on quickly when the newest arrival does debut. Nature’s newness and wonder have not expired, they are gifts on display, yet unperceived by haste and indifference. Strachan writes:
People [are] so infatuated with ‘newness’ and ‘progress’ that we are unable to appreciate the beauty of life in its simplest forms. It is little surprise that so many who are spiritually thin have so little connection with nature. We would do well to return to nature, so to speak, and to enjoy it– singing praises, praying, laughing, contemplating small delights, communing with God in the realm created to testify of Him.
When is the last time you found yourself “contemplating small delights” for which your heart swelled with gratitude at the kindness and love of God?
Have you paused long enough for the countless hues in a sunset to leave you short of adjectives?
Have you marveled at the curious existence of bioluminescent creatures swimming in the ocean depths?
Have you been baffled by the wisdom of God displayed in the anatomy of a woodpecker (its tongue wraps entirely around the brain, protecting it from cerebral damage while it pecks, and also extends far enough to retrieve the bugs deep within bored holes)?
Are you lost for words when the lightning displays an earthshaking storm remind you of your place in the universe?
In moments of discovery like these, I am in awe, and my heart is filled with worship! The opportunity to behold the splendor of God in creation is a privilege and a responsibility. John Bloom draws our attention to the unique blessing of such knowledge:
You are part of the infinitesimal fraction of created things that have been granted the incredible gift of being able to perceive the power and native genius of God! And to you, and you only, is given a wholly unique perception and experience of God’s holy grand poiema…What kind of being are you, so small and weak and yet endowed with such marvelous capacity for perception and wonder?
This “capacity for perception and wonder” suggests that we are beings created for worship. Strachan puts it simply, “Creation exist[s] because God desired to put His glory, His beauty, before a celestial audience.”
We are the audience before whom God has displayed infinite manifestations of His glory–and these are merely the manifestations revealed within the confines of a fallen world.
Imagine how much more we have to discover when we reach heaven! We have five senses with which to understand and experience the world God created, and the capacity to respond with intellectual and emotional praise– this was no accident. Remember Romans 1:20? God’s attributes have been clearly seen through what He has made so we are without excuse. In other words, worship is mandatory. Romans leaves no question about the alternative to reverent worship: “For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude…And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right” (1:21, 28 CSB).
Cultivating a heart of worship is the most worthwhile aim we can pursue– to ignore that aim is to ensure judgment.
In this season of thanksgiving, let us discover newfound gratitude for the evidence of grace and glory all around us. May we become passionate students with a fresh capacity for awe, studying the Ancient Presence and design of the Master Artist.
Oh, that our eyes would see and our ears hear the majesty His voice set in motion.
May our wonder compel us to worship the One who is forever worthy.