For by [the Son] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.(1)
Our Bibles begin with the simple statement that God created the heavens and the earth.(2) On the surface, this seems like a simple statement of narrative fact, like I might say that I made a sandwich for my lunch. However, God’s act of creation is not a fact of historical curiosity with no present-day impact: it defines an ongoing relationship between all things and Himself.
The work of the Creator
No modern football club can be discussed without reference being made to their owners. In the example of Manchester United, the Glazer family who owns it has been a deeply controversial presence since the 2003 leveraged buyout. That acquisition, which took the debt (and interest repayments) the Glazers accumulated to purchase the club and named it as the club’s own debt, soured relationships between the owners and supporters. The Glazers’ announcement of their intention to sell the club in November 2022 brought about yet more controversy. Renovations to the Old Trafford stadium are needed, and require investment from the owners. The owners do little to dispel the notion that they own the football club as a financial asset, which prevents any reconciliation with the fans who see other clubs rising to success in the Premier League when backed with the financial investments of their owners.
What is God’s relationship with the world that He has created? Is it a system from which He extracts resources, or one that He is close to and willing to invest in?
In His revelation to Job, God shows Himself as the one who hunts prey for the lion’s young,(3) among many other statements that show His continuously intimate knowledge of the world and the processes that keep it suitable for life. Jesus adds to this idea by describing His Father as the one who feeds the birds and clothes the lilies.(4) Through His teaching, we see that the Creator is someone who can be continually relied upon for kinder care than any earthly father.(5) Paul wasn’t understating anything when he told the Colossians in Him all things hold together! His involvement far exceeds the owner of a sports team who pays to keep the lights on; His continued involvement as Creator is the way in which we continue to exist, and all good things that we have come from Him.
The authority of the Creator
The popularity of TV shows such as The Great British Bake Off, Masterchef and Iron Chef are often based on the perception that the audience has of the show’s judges. The people who are evaluating the food that is made by the contestants need to be understood to be experts in the culinary field. Either they are renowned critics who can unpack all the flavours in the food and how they interact with each other, or a chef who is of such fame that their proven track record gives them the authority to tell the contestants what they have done wrong in their work. As humans, we can push back against the authority of other people unless they demonstrate to us that they have good reason to hold that judgement over us.
Peter calls on us to willingly submit ourselves to God as Judge over us on the basis that He is our Creator: Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God are to entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.(6) Due to His unique position as the all-knowing Creator, God is the only one with the qualifications to act as Judge over all things. Therefore, His faithful character means that He will act in restoration to all those who have lost unfairly, and with comeuppance to any who have gained through wicked means.
Of course, as Creator, God’s position as Judge is inarguable, regardless of whether we choose to accept Him as such or not. The great divide between our status and God’s is the natural conclusion of God being Creator, but it can leave us feeling frustrated and helpless. Ultimately, when we come to trust His character, those frustrations dissolve into gladness, and that helplessness is overcome by finding His absolute help.
The uniqueness of the Creator
Whether it be music, a painting or novel, architecture or film, we commonly consider the finest works of art to be those that are the result of a particular artist. Something that their distinct human experiences mean that only they could produce. For example, the books of Tolstoy, such as War and Peace and Anna Karenina, required his particular experience as a landowner becoming dissatisfied with his own wealth, his experiences of war in Crimea, and his developing understanding that Christian faith was supposed to be life-changing and not just understood academically. As a result, they are appreciated as art by those who do not share those experiences, yet recognise how he portrays human experience upon the page.
God’s creation is of a magnitude of artistry that goes beyond all the collected works of art the human race has produced, and His glory is demonstrated in the goodness that can be seen in it. His role as Creator also makes Him unique more than we can truly comprehend: when He declared of Himself to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”,(7) He claims that He alone exists without having first been made. Indeed, the statement apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being(8) leaves Him alone as that which has not ‘come into being’, because He is the origin of all others. One of our hymns says of Him:
‘The undivided three,
And self-existent One;
Where reason fails
with all her powers,
There faith prevails
and love adores.’(9)
It captures the fact that this is a truth that we can only truly appreciate by faith, because the substance of God as Creator is entirely different to the things that we know within the creation.
However, the things that both Paul and John were commenting on in the passages we’ve cited from them are intending to make plain one thing: this Creator who has no beginning has entered into His own creation in the person of Jesus Christ. This being who is alien to us in authority and self-existing nature has made Himself known to us in ways that we can understand; having been born as we are born, He lived and walked upon this earth as we all do, being sustained by His Father while He was also fully under His authority(10) and kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.(11)
Knowing our Creator
Following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are not to be intimidated by the difference between ourselves and our Creator (while remaining full of awe and respectful towards Him at all times), but are invited into a relationship of intimate dependence upon Him. He is not distant or disengaged from our world, so we should not act distant or disengaged from Him. This is the unique declaration of Christianity, so absurd that it would be considered sacrilegious if it were not true: that we can know someone so apart from us, and that He cares for us individually. Sometimes that dependence will not see an answer in the taking away of our troubles, but in those circumstances it is all the more important that we entrust ourselves to the faithful Creator who existed before all things, and will remain and reward us after all these surroundings have passed away in His judgement. We might be small in comparison to the powers that surround us – governments and corporations, those who seek to tempt us – but we are held safe by the one who is greater than all, by having limited all such things to their place through His creative power.
References: (1) Col. 1:16-17 (2) Gen. 1:1 (3) Job 38:39-41 (4) Mat. 6:26-30 (5) Mat. 7:11 (6) 1 Pet. 4:19 (7) Ex. 3:14 (8) John 1:3 (9) Isaac Watts, PHSS 37, v.4 (10) John 4:34 (11) 1 Pet. 2:23
Michael Johnston, Kirkintilloch, Scotland
Bible quotations from NASB20