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Faith

D.C. Collier: Finding Your Place in the Universe

Since the dawn of creation, mankind has been making up gods as it goes along — from the earliest idols made of stone, silver, gold and wood, to ancient human “gurus” and so-called prophets.

Today, our gods are more sophisticated and include secular “elites,” humanistic academics, nontheistic scientists and thought leaders of every stripe. A growing number of modernists simply default to the materialism-reductionist’s notion that we are alone in the universe and that the whole thing is just one big physics experiment gone wrong.

The truth is that we are not alone. We live in a universe that is infused with the presence of its creator and sustainer. In Him, “we live and move and exist.”

Everything that has ever been created or ever will be created exists for a singular purpose: to reflect the glory of God. Truth be told, the universe isn’t about us — it’s about Him.

                                                                 •        •        •

In his book, Renovation of the Heart, the late philosopher Dallas Willard quoted Leo Tolstoy:

“There are two Gods,” Tolstoy once said. “There is the God that people generally believe in. A God who has to serve them (sometimes in very refined ways, say by merely giving them peace of mind). This God does not exist. But the God whom people forget — the God whom we are created to serve — exists, and He is the prime cause for our existence and of all that we perceive.”

All creation is infused with God’s glory and is aglow with His presence. Like a mirror, the physical universe is intended to reflect Him. Think of our moon. It is nothing more than a dead, dark rock. But as it reflects the rays of the sun, it projects its brilliant light onto an otherwise benighted earth.

And as we, His creatures, take our proper place in his universe, we discover the reason for our own existence and therefore the fulfillment of our deepest longings: to take part in a cause greater than ourselves, an everlasting adventure.

From the beginning, God has been seeking, not slaves or servants, but sons and daughters who He can love.

So, Where Did Things Go Wrong?

For this, we must digress:

God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive — a living soul!1

The biblical account of mankind’s beginnings begins not with lower life forms “endlessly becoming” over billions of years. God sets about to intentionally and methodically bring about His greatest triumph — in finished form — man, in His own image and likeness.

The result was a species of beloved creatures capable of sharing His feelings, His hopes, and yes, His pains and disappointments; someone with whom He could spend eternity in intimate fellowship.

God proceeds to tenderly create Adam, first by forming his body from the dust of the ground — the very same dust with which He made the animals. But note that the original Hebrew language of the scripture (literally, yatsar) indicates that God did this by squeezing Adam’s body into shape with His own hands, as a potter might form an exquisite piece of art.

Up to this point in the story, God creates the universe, somewhat clinically, using only His spoken word from a distance, and everything obediently falls into place on command. But then God moves in closer, more intimately, and in so doing indicates that there will be a very special portion of His creation that He will form with His own hands and bring to life with His own breath.

He confides that this creature will be vastly different from anything that has come before or since. Never had the universe witnessed such a closeness between creator and creature, not even among the angels in heaven.

The Trinitarian Godhead expressed in community as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit gives birth to a mini-reflection of Himself. It is impossible to overestimate the significance of this singular momentous event.

And then, God gently lifts His precious creation to His lips and blows His own breath into Adam’s mouth — the breath of life. It doesn’t get any more intimate than this. God elevates Adam above every living species when “The Man came alive — a living soul.”

Dust meets deity. Man becomes a uniquely spiritual being, literally “stamped” or infused with God’s very own image (indicating intimate relationship) and likeness (indicating similarity of character).

And the greatest risk God took in creating man in the first place was, in some ways, the least obvious. Although His other living creatures, particularly animals, have some semblance of a free will, they are largely controlled by built-in instincts which, like pre–programmed ROM chips in a computer, determine how they behave in almost any situation.

Not so with humans. God imparted an independent spirit into this, His most unique creation. And this independent spirit makes humans capable of freely choosing between good and evil, without the restraints of overriding “instinctual circuitry” like the animals.

This also makes man dangerous, indeed lethal, to himself and to others.

And knowing the likelihood of mankind exercising its free will and choosing evil, God was fully prepared with the means to remedy the situation and to save His creatures from themselves. The remedy is known as salvation, and yes, mankind would come to need it badly — individually and corporately.

At the center of the universe, we discover a heavily invested creator, a risk taker, a giver, a long-suffering and patient parent who is desperate for the companionship of His children (us!). A dad who withholds judgment in the face of continuous rejection and who is stirred to deep emotion when one of his own returns to him.

How About You?

The trouble is that most us are out of position with respect to God, which renders us incapable of reflecting God’s image, even for a moment. Like physical mirrors, most of us are “pointed” in the direction of our fellow man, giving glory to others and accepting it from them, in exchange.

Are you ready to consider a major paradigm shift? Hint: Lift your eyes upward, oh child of the stars!

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. Genesis 2:6-7 MSG

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