The Deep Things Of God
During an interview with Norwegian singer Sissel, the host commented on her Sunday hikes with the family when she was growing up. Her response on nature is common: “I didn’t go to church on Sundays, but in a way I felt like coming out into nature – that was my church. ... For me, walking out into nature – that’s the closest you can get.” This expresses the feeling of those who say, “I am spiritual, but I don’t read the Bible or participate in organized religion.”
It is appropriate on a basic level to contemplate God in nature. Paul acknowledges, “What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19-20).
This mirrors David’s thoughts, probably from tending sheep in the fields: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. ” (Ps. 19:1-3). From the Judean hills to the Norwegian coasts to Virginia’s Shenandoah Mountains, the message is the same: Nature bears witness to a powerful, intelligent Creator.
But stopping here leads to two mistakes historically made by mankind:
1) Nature is deified. “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God in to an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things” (Rom. 1:21-23).
People who overly elevate creation are vulnerable to moral inversion and depravity. The natural world is a smorgasbord of elements unsuitable as a moral guide. Carnivores and viruses kill indiscriminately; some animals abandon their young, elderly and wounded to fend for themselves; many species mate indiscriminately. Men do wretched things in the name of nature.
Despite David Attenborough’s reverential narrations, nature is not God. And Sissel’s cherished hikes along the North Sea are not a substitute for worshiping God as He instructs.
2) God is neglected. While the study of creation is an introductory class, God Himself is not known unless we enter into His thoughts. This is only possible through what He has said: “‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. ... These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches. ... We have the mind of Christ” (I Cor. 2:9-16).
With all due respect to Sissel, nature is not the closest one can get to God. Walking into a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is not the closest one can get to him. Only if he graced you with conversation would you come to truly know the man.
So it is with God. We must walk through the pages of Scripture and listen to God’s thoughts in order to really know Him – who He is, what He offers and expects, and why we should worship Him.