In our consideration of the practical consequences of being created, we’ve identified the clearest consequence as our existence in the image of God, and we’ve noted the effects of that image in our dominion over the planet, our personal nature, and our social disposition. There’s a second major consequence, which is not stated directly as such in the creation account, but is assumed throughout Scripture, from the very beginning.
You see, if we have a Creator, then we are not self-existent, and we are not random, and we are not essentially independent.
If we have a Creator, we’re responsible to him. What he thinks matters, and his purpose in creating us is at the core of our responsibility.
In short, we have to do what he says.
This concept drives all of our lives, as a human race and as individuals. Whatever we think, however we feel, whatever we do, we need to derive from the Creator’s purpose for us. To do otherwise is inherently destructive.
When my wife and I bought our first house, the inspector recommended that I cut down a tree whose branches were rubbing slightly on the roof. He said the tree would shorten the life of our shingles, and eventually the root system might undermine the house’s foundation as well.
Yikes. Big stuff.
So I went to one of those big box home improvement stores—the orange one—and I bought me a chainsaw.
Every man needs a chainsaw.
And, to everyone’s surprise, I read the manual.
I learned a lot of things—how to tension the chain, where to put the sprocket oil, how much oil to mix in with the gasoline (2-stroke engine, you know), and where to put the gasoline mixture when I had the ratio right.
Most important, the manual had a section on a phenomenon called “kickback.”
Apparently you can handle a chainsaw in such a way that the Business End will proceed rapidly in the direction of your face, and I’m told that you really don’t want that to happen.
The manual explained what kinds of behaviors increase the likelihood of kickback. I read that section very carefully, because when your face is as attractive as mine is, you have an obligation to prevent anything untoward from happening to it. I have a duty to my public.
Now, I had bought and paid for that chainsaw. It’s mine, and I can do whatever I want with it. I can empty the sprocket lubricant reservoir. I can use straight gasoline, or even jet fuel, if I feel like it. I can juggle it while it’s running. I can use it to cut concrete.
I have my rights.
But if I do any of those things, I’m an idiot. I’ll shorten the life of the machine; I’ll waste money; and most important, I might do serious harm to myself and others. I wouldn’t be much of a husband or father if I did that to my family.
I have my rights, but I have responsibilities as well.
The engineers who designed that chainsaw know how it was designed to operate. They know its limits and its capabilities. I ought to listen to them.
And so it is with us. If we’re designed, the designer knows our specs. He knows how our equipment—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—should be used. He knows what will lead to a long, happy, and useful life, and he knows what will send us to the scrap heap. So we ought to do what he says.
But it goes deeper than that. The chainsaw designers have a lot of expertise to share with me and advice to give me, but they don’t own either me or the chainsaw. But it’s different with us. God’s not just a designer whose product or services we’ve hired; he owns us. He has a right to tell us what to do. And if we ignore him, there are more than just practical or financial consequences—there are moral and even eternal ones.
We could apply this principle endlessly; God has sovereign rights over every decision we make, from the smallest to the greatest. We’ve noted in an earlier post that our obligation extends to the care with which we exercise the dominion that is ours as part of the image of God. There’s a second specific application in the creation account, one that speaks powerfully to the world we find ourselves in today.
We’ll talk about that next time.