Lesson 2: Creation in the New Testament

If you think of creation only as the origin of the physical world, the New Testament has little to say about it. It does speak quite a bit about a broader concept of creation.

It builds on the Old Testament’s understanding that God creates everything by uttering words. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.”(John 1:1-4).

It also agrees that Creation is not something that happened long ago, but rather is on-going. In Matthew 6: 25- 34 Jesus says we need not be anxious, because God provides our daily bread. In Matthew 4: 4 he cites Deuteronomy 8: 3 to make clear this is not only the baked food but every word that comes from the mouth of God. As Luther explains, confessing God as creator means not only that “God has created me and all that exists” but also that “He provides me with everything I need from day to day”. Some rabbis used to say God creates today on the debris of yesterday.

However, The New Testament identifies the Word of God with Jesus. It claims he is the controlling principle through whom God created and creates. As the Risen Christ he “holds all together”. (Colossians 1: 15-20) and “sustains all things by his powerful word from the right hand of God” (Hebrews 1: 3). In the end he shall create the peaceable kingdom when he unites all things in heaven and earth (Ephesians 1: 9, 10)

If Genesis 1 recorded the beginning of God’s conversation with his people, the Incarnation has God coming into our time and space to speak face- to- face. John proclaims. “The word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1: 14) and later elaborates “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” (I John 1: 1-3).
Now Jesus’ story gives meaning to our lives. If the Exodus narrative explained who the Israelites were, what they believed, and what they were to do, now the Resurrection story speaks to all humanity. God is the one who “gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4: 17). “Anyone in Christ is a new creature, everything old has passed away, everything has become new” (II Corinthians 5: 17).

If the rabbis identified God with his Torah, the New Testament proclaims, “God is love” (I John 4:7). It claims love not law gives order to the chaos of our lives. Perhaps it is better to say it presents love as the spirit of the law. Love is always creative; law can become rigid and stagnant. Love gives life to the law. There is always freedom and spontaneity in creation’s conversation. Any determinism fails to help us on a social level, where we live and breathe, make and break, give birth and kill.

Today we usually speak of the Gospel dealing with redemption, how sins of the past are forgiven so we can return to the peace of Eden. The New Testament writers just as often proclaimed the Gospel with creation language, focusing on how God frees us to move toward the Kingdom of God and eternal life.

They define the church as part of the new creation. Just as God’s Spirit passed over the waters of chaos in the first act, so the Spirit passed over Jesus’ disordered disciples and gave them life. They call us to participate in creation by proclaiming “the word” that makes all things new and baptizing that makes all truly alive. Thus Luther explains, “Water by itself is only water, but with the Word of God it is a life-giving water which by grace gives new birth through the Holy Spirit.” We also participate in Creation through prayer which is our part in creation’s ongoing conversation. In a sense, we express our desires before God creates the next moment.

How does it affect our everyday lives to proclaim Jesus’ kind of love makes the world go round? It is easy to see how this creative love enabled the early Christians to annul the dietary laws. If God made all good, no food is be unclean (I Timothy 4:4 and I Corinthians 10:23-33). It all depends on whether we use the things of creation according to God’s will, acting with love and giving God glory. Does this also apply to human sexuality? Does establishing homosexuality as a genetic condition give us a basis for changing old laws? Do changing social conditions justify dropping first century laws about the man being the master of the house? Does it help overcome our fears about genetic engineering and stem cell research?

Tags: , , , , ,

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top