Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash
In our study of what it means to have a Creator, we’ve noted a couple of significant consequences: the fact that we’re in the image of God, and the fact that we’re responsible to the one who created us. Last time I noted that the Bible seems to place our sexual behavior fairly high on the list of our responsibilities to God. Here, rather than itemizing further down the list, I’d like to make a larger point.
Since we have responsibilities, it’s possible to shirk them. We can fulfill our responsibilities poorly, or half-heartedly, or we can ignore them altogether. Most of us know how irritating that can be; we’ve had children who didn’t do what we asked, or we’ve been assigned group projects with people who just didn’t care, or we’ve had employees who acted as though we were paying them primarily as a philanthropic endeavor.
Boy. Some people.
Imagine, then, the heart of the Creator when we ignore or trivialize our responsibilities to him.
He has made us—we are in debt to him for every breath of fresh air, every floral scent, every brilliant sight, every soothing sound, every delicious taste of food or drink, every hug, every laugh, every moment of passion or delight. We exist, and we know every one of the joys that existence has brought, because of him.
Beyond that, he has made us in his image, far greater than any other creature, so that even mighty animals respond to us with respect. He has given us dominion over all we see, so that we can use it freely for our own survival and prosperity.
We owe him everything.
So how despicable is it when we despise his gifts and ignore the responsibilities he has given us? when we turn every one to his own way? when we treat him as absent, or even enemy, instead of loving Father?
There’s a word for that kind of attitude or behavior. We call it sin. It’s possible only because we are creatures: if we were random accidents, no other creature could claim that we owe him any duty; we would all be lords of our own flies and nothing more.
But we are not random accidents. There is such a thing as sin, and it’s very, very serious business. It’s far worse than anything any ungrateful child or apathetic fellow team member or entitled employee has ever done to us. It’s worse than inattention or even hostility; it’s a denial of our very selves and the One to whom our very selves are owed.
What should be a Creator’s response to such ingratitude and rebellion? After we have despised his many gifts, what more does he owe us? What should we now expect from him?
Well, the reasonable response would be for him to take our unappreciated toys away from us. Joy. Delight. Pleasure. Freedom. Rest. Peace.
And life itself.
But he doesn’t.
Oh, my friend, does he ever not.
In the midst of his anger, rightly earned, he gives more grace.
He determines to forgive—and to find a way to do so without violating his perfect justice.
He determines to do for us what we could never do for ourselves.
Astoundingly, he steps into our world, lives in the dump we have made for ourselves, and does perfectly what we have done badly or not at all. He meets his own standard of perfect righteousness.
And then—what?!—he punishes himself for our graceless acts of rebellion. He pays the price himself, through death.
Even the death of the cross.
And because he will not tolerate defeat, or even apparent defeat, he uses that death to destroy the one who has the power of death, the one who led us willingly astray in the first place. Rather than counting us enemies, he soundly defeats our greatest enemy and so counts us his friends.
There are no words.
Now, after all that, what does it mean to live as a creature?
It means gratitude, devotion. It means steely determination to live for him, for the publishing of his fame to every corner of what he has created. It means loving our enemies with the same fervor with which he has loved his.
It means using every breath, every neural impulse, every calorie, every heartbeat to be his servant.
What difference does it make that we are created?
Every possible difference. Every one.
What patience would wait as we constantly roam?
What Father, so tender, is calling us home?
He welcomes the weakest, the vilest, the poor!
My sins, they are many; his mercy is more!