“In the beginning…”
These words open the Bible story. And they have also opened up a number of debates about creation. For much of my Christian life, the account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 was the primary battleground about the origins of the world. It has raised a host of complicated questions: How do faith and science relate? What should a Christian believe about the origins of the earth? While I am convinced that God made the world in 6 days, there is something even more remarkable about the opening words of the Bible. They are repeated in John 1:
“In the beginning…”
What was in the beginning? John tells us it was the Word who was with God and was God, who created all things and became human (John 1:1-14). In other words, creation is primarily about seeing the glory of Christ.
This Christ-centered approach is the apostolic approach. Listen to the apostle Paul: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and form him” (Col. 1:16). These staggering words mean that we need to think about this created world with fresh Christ-centered insights.
First, this world is the stage upon which God’s great work of redemption would be performed in Christ. Everything was made to suit God’s redemptive plan. Humans were made in the image of God. Adam was a prophet – receiving God’s Word and commands and mediating that to his family. As a priest, he was to worship the Lord in Eden, the most holy place. As king, he was to rule and subdue the creation. But in failing to do so, Jesus comes to fulfill these tasks and restore his fallen image bearers to their original role.
Second, this world is designed for God’s great work of redemption in Christ. The trees that were created would one day hold the Word-made-flesh with the metal God had fashioned. The lambs that were in the Garden would become the symbol of the coming Lamb of God. All things were created for him.
Third, the world is ordered to display God’s great work of redemption in Christ. Out of nothing, God brings his creation and his salvation. By his Spirit, God creates the world and creates a new heart. Out of darkness, God’s light shines into creation and shines into our hearts to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. In creation and salvation, God produces much good fruit. In creation and salvation, the image of God is displayed in humanity. In creation and salvation, the rule of God is established and confirmed.
The doctrine of creation answers so much more than when or how God created. It answers the child-like question: “Why?” God made this world to display the glory of Christ, for whom everything was created and by whom all things were created. So open your eyes! See the white snow that covers the ground and remember Christ’s forgiveness. See the new life of spring after the death that comes from winter. Enjoy the birds that sing and remind us not to be anxious. And as you do so, you’ll see the drama of Christ’s redemption all around you!
Delighting in our Saving Creator,