There is One God who Created and Sustains Everything.
Reviewing your core beliefs is healthy, both as a church and as an individual. For the next few weeks, the EC crew is doing just that by walking through the Bones of our Belief. You cannot act in a way that is consistent with your belief unless you know the consistency of your beliefs. The journey from the head to the heart, that is the intellectual agreement with information to the personal acceptance and application of information, is a long and often misunderstood process. This is the reason that we should respond in gratitude to God's sustaining nature.
What we believe and what does it mean?
1. There is one God who created and sustains everything.
"Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one!" - Deuteronomy 6:4
"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for "'In him we live and move and have our being';" - Acts 17:24-28
It is very easy for to over-generalize the statement, "God created the world." Christians can take it for granted and the non-religious can either find it contentious statement or one that they needn't bother addressing at all. It is always worth addressing the origin story. We have a natural curiosity about the circumstances of our own birth, why should we expect to not have a natural curiosity about the origins of humanity? The two parts of this foundational belief is rich in the context of our origin and our future.
This belief can be looked at in two parts. First, there is One God. Packed into these four words are cardinal declarations of Christian truth that tell us of:
- The unity and community of the Trinity
- The supremacy of Jehovah God
- The illegitimacy of pantheism, humanism, and other false gods
God, as One, also created and sustains everything. As the sole proprietor of the known and unknown universe all awe, wonder, and glory belongs to him alone. However, we would ere if we only said, "God created everything." It is important to remember that he sustains everything as well. As the apostle Paul noted in the passage in Acts (directly above), a grand Creator could seem so distant and so out of reach to those who would be inclined to try to find Him. But, as Paul says, he is not far from anyone of us because, "in him, we live and move and have our being." God is not like a clockmaker, who, after winding the mechanics of the universe in place, steps back and watches from a distance as the natural order of events unfolds. Rather he is very active in the events of his creation. As Francis Schaeffer puts it, "He is there and he is not silent."
Why does this matter to you?
Your smartphone, laptop, or whatever you are using to read this post left the factory after it was assembled and brought into its retail existence through the marketing channels. When you purchased your device an overwhelming joy sprung up in your soul because now you could join in with all the Empty Church faithful in reading blogs and listening to our shows...ok, I admit, thats a reach. But, the point is you had something that you didn't have before. Being the smart consumer that you are, though, you know that the first push of the power button is the only time you 100% expect a perfectly operating device. With every day your new phone is in use it is one day closer to facing the end of its existence.
Because we know that gadgets fail we expect the makers to offer some kind of insurance that our devices will return an equivalent amount of productivity in exchange for the money that we used to purchase the device. In short, we expect our money's worth and we expect the manufacturer to stand by the claims it has made for the product. This assurance is usually referred to as the manufacturer's warranty. If anything goes wrong with the device in the set time limit, the manufacturer is responsible to replace the device at no additional charge to the customer. The manufacturer of the product has promised to sustain the product for a set amount of time.
What do cell phones have to do with God? God, as the creator of the universe, has also promised to sustain it. He did not set the world in motion and turn his back on it. He has his watchful eye on everything that goes on and he allows the story to unfold as he wills it. And just like with electronic manufacturers, we sometimes disagree with the methods that God uses to sustain his creation. We say things like, "If I were in charge I would do this instead," or "He obviously has no idea what he is doing." The truth is, God knows what he is doing and his plans are much wiser than ours.
Alas, there is comfort in these words if we choose to hear them. You, as part of God's creation, are being sustained by the sovereignty of God. He has not abandoned you - neither in the good times nor in the bad times. Sin has given us some faulty wiring and we are in need of constant repair. God the creator and sustainer is ready to make good on his warranty claim and he has proven that through his Son, Jesus Christ.