Written by Jonathan K. Corrado |
Sunday, September 17, 2023
Observing God’s creation can inspire greater reverence for God and His handiwork. The splendor of nature serves as a reminder of God, and in nature, encircled by His creation, we might feel more connected to God. When we venerate any aspect of God’s creation, whether it be nature or another person, we recognize the significance of what God created and admire the Creator.
Have you ever wondered why a sunset on a beach is captivating, snowcapped mountains are breathtaking, and a valley filled with wildflowers is enchanting?
Scripture, as a whole, teaches that God brought the universe and everything in it into existence to magnify His own glory. The creation of all these things serves as a testament to His glory, love, grace, mercy, wisdom, power, and goodness (see Psalm 8:1; 19:1; 50:6; 89:5, among other verses). Jonathan Edwards expressed it this way:
It appears reasonable to suppose, that it was God’s last end, that there might be a glorious and abundant emanation of his infinite fullness of good ad extra, or without himself; and that the disposition to communicate himself, or diffuse his own fullness, was what moved him to create the world.1
On this topic, Proverbs 16:4 succinctly states, “The LORD has made all for Himself.” In other words, God’s glory is the reason He created (see Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16; and Hebrews 2:10). If God created for His glory, naturally He would find His creation beautiful since it is a reflection of His glory. Historic Christianity asserts that the origin of all beauty can be attributed to God, either through direct acts of creation or through the creative endeavors of human beings, who are considered to be bearers of the divine image.
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By Michael Clary — 4 months ago
We do not live in a perfect world. Every household will make decisions based on their life circumstances, and Christians should avoid being overly prescriptive about matters that are truly secondary. God is honored when Christians prayerfully consider how to best pursue their God given priorities. Even though motherhood is diminished in the world, the church can uphold its glory and dignity.
Motherhood is Life
I recently rewatched “Saving Private Ryan” for what must have been the 10th time. Saving Private Ryan tells the story of a young man whose three brothers were killed in combat in WWII. Private Ryan was the only brother to survive D Day. When military officials realized this, they dispatched a special regiment of eight soldiers to track him down, somewhere in France, to retrieve him and bring him home.
Saving Private Ryan is a masculine movie. It’s all about brotherhood, war, duty, honor. But when I watched the movie this time, however, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before—mothers. Many of these young men, who were fighting for their lives on another continent, were thinking about their mothers back home. In a particularly disturbing scene, a soldier lies on a beach in Normandy, clutching his bloody stomach that had been blown open, crying out “mama!” while he died.
The mission to save Private Ryan was deemed urgent because the military command wanted to spare his mother the overwhelming grief of losing her last remaining son. One scene depicts the awful moment just before she learned the news that she’d lost her other three sons. She is standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes as she notices a military vehicle approach. A man dressed in a military uniform exits the front passenger side of the vehicle, turns toward the back door of the car and opens it. A chaplain steps out. She knew immediately. She falls to her knees in grief, knowing that she’d lost one of her sons. Surely her mind is racing with questions. “Which son? How did he die?” But the audience knows the situation is much worse. She’d lost three of her sons in one day, and the fourth was still missing.
Scenes like this show the power of motherhood. When strong, young men in war are in the throes of death, their hearts are naturally drawn to the safety, comfort, and love of home. They long for the woman who gave them life. Mothers embody everything they hope for in dangerous times. War is death. Motherhood is life.
The World’s View of Motherhood
Many young women feel the need to suppress their maternal instincts because they’ve been culturally conditioned to devalue motherhood. They’ve grown up watching shows and hearing stories celebrating how “girls can do anything boys can do.” A friend once noticed a poster in a school highlighting girl’s potential in a series of pictures associated with different careers. One was a doctor, another was a business executive, a third was an astronaut. Of all these images inspiring young girls about what they could become in life, none of them depicted mothers.
During a small group discussion with some Christian friends, one young woman sheepishly admitted that what she most wanted out of life was to be a wife and a mother. She was hesitant to acknowledge this, because she felt that this was somehow aiming below her potential, wasting her gifts, and settling for second best. All her life, she’d heard about how exciting a career can be, but she’d heard relatively little celebrating the fact that she can create and nurture new life. In pop culture, pregnancy is depicted as a hurdle to overcome. But the testimony of scripture is that children are a blessing and motherhood is a glorious vocation (Ps 127:3-5). This is not to say that women should not get an education or have a job. For our purposes here, it’s simply a matter of priority. Motherhood is highly valued in Scripture but devalued in modern culture.
Motherhood has never been an easy calling ever since it came under the curse of sin (Gen 3:16). Nevertheless, throughout history, societies have always valued motherhood as a social good to preserve and nurture civilization. As the industrial revolution radically changed the household, some feminist thinkers began arguing that the traditional household was outdated, oppressive to women, and needed to be changed. It was holding women back, enslaving them to their husbands and children. But women could be liberated from this bondage by seeking careers outside the home the way men did. They assumed that women could be more free, more fulfilled, and more valued in the marketplace than in the home.
Even though most Christian women would quickly recognize the error of this thinking, the basic assumptions and desires of feminism can nevertheless seep into our unconscious minds, training us to devalue the vocation of motherhood. Women are being subtly conditioned to believe that the marketplace is immanently desirable—where true happiness and fulfillment can be found. Motherhood is a secondary endeavor if a woman chooses to succumb to her own biology. Homemaking should rarely be the top vocational choice, unless she’s going for a trendy, boutique, trad wife flex. This thinking is ungodly. Nevertheless, the feminine nature has a way of asserting itself. It cannot be so easily denied. Women are naturally and instinctively inclined to make homes.
The Feminine Design
I have pastored many women through infertility struggles and have personally seen how devastating this trial can be. For these women, their missing motherhood can feel like a personal failure. Why is missing motherhood such an emotional weight for so many women? Because it’s their design. Motherhood is the goal (or telos) of the feminine design. Women are physiologically oriented towards it. A woman’s menstrual cycle is a monthly reminder that her womb was designed to bear life, and her breasts were designed to feed and nurture life. This astoundingly powerful ability to create life should be affirmed and celebrated, not minimized or dismissed.
The Scriptures present motherhood as one of the greatest blessings a woman could receive. Similarly, a barren womb was one of the greatest trials she could endure. Womanhood cannot be properly understood apart from her potential for motherhood. It is the unique design of her body. When God created Eve, he was not merely solving a loneliness problem, but a reproduction problem. She was God’s answer to man’s inability to fill the earth on his own. This is why Adam named her “Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Gen 3:20). God gave him much more than a wife. He gave him a potential mother.
A common word Scripture uses to describe motherhood is “fruitfulness” (Gen 1:28). This word appears in the Bible over 200 times, covering a range of interrelated meanings from gardening to sexuality. Fruitfulness is multiplication. Just as the Garden of Eden was meant to grow, expand, and multiply to cover the earth, Eve was meant to be fruitful and grow, like a garden. Women are uniquely equipped to multiply and amplify things. A woman’s body can take a single sperm from a man and knit together a new human being from it. Just as her name suggests, Eve truly did become the mother of all living, giving birth to the whole human race. This feminine ability goes beyond physical childbearing. Femininity represents the ability to expand what is received. As author Rebekah Merkle put it, “When God gave Eve to Adam, he was handing Adam an amplifier… Adam is the single acorn sitting on the driveway which, no matter how hard he tries, remains an acorn. Eve is the fertile soil which takes all the potential that resides in that acorn and turns it into a tree, which produces millions more acorns and millions more trees.”
The Vocation of Motherhood
Women are natural homemakers. Marriage is all about making a home, and wives will naturally devote themselves to it. The question is not whether she’ll do it, but to what degree she’ll prioritize it. Every household will need its cabinets stocked with groceries, meals prepared, and laundry washed. Beyond this, the children will need to be fed, nurtured, clothed, disciplined, and educated. Typically, the mother takes the lead in handling these chores. She may do them all herself, or she may outsource some or all of them to others. For example, a well-trained and qualified nanny can be hired to come into the home and perform all these tasks. A nanny may be a better cook, better housekeeper, and better teacher of the kids. This being the case, why not hire them to do as much as possible? Some families see this as the wisest option, since, after all, the nanny is the professional. She’s the expert. But homes need more than domestic expertise; they need a mother’s presence.
By Greg Harris — 2 months ago
Christians decry abortion and medical assistance in death because each human person is imago Dei. Christians decry sexism, racism, ableism, and other dehumanizing -isms because each human person is imago Dei. Christians care about alleviating poverty and providing holistic care because each human person is imago Dei. Christians seek justice for all who are oppressed, marginalized, and ignored because each human person is imago Dei.
We were listening to the music team finish their rehearsal before heading into the pre-service meeting. My five-year-old daughter, my middle-little one, stood beside me in the foyer as she does most weeks when she comes early to church with me. Oftentimes she doesn’t recognize the songs the band plays. But when she heard them playing the song “Great Things,” she confidently looked up at me and said, “I know this one!”
The band arrived at the chorus, and my daughter sang along.
Oh, hero of Heaven, You conquered the graveYou free every cactus and break every chain
I smiled at the thought of Jesus freeing every cactus from its chains. I didn’t correct her; we will sort that one out another day. She is in a stage of life where her vocabulary is growing exponentially, and she gets a remarkable amount of the words right. But sometimes a captive gets called a cactus.
Another one of the words my middle-little mispronounces these days is human: she calls them “few-man.” I’ve tried correcting this one, but to no avail quite yet. It’s one thing to mispronounce the word human, but it’s quite another to misunderstand the intrinsic importance of each human person. Ultimately, I am more concerned that my daughter understands the value of each human than properly pronouncing the word itself.
I have been contemplating the concept of theological anthropology for a while now as I search for answers to the question: what is a human? When it comes to the topic of humans as imago Dei, the response is often similar to my pre-service sidekick in the foyer. We either meet the term with silence because we don’t know what it means, or we meet it with confidence because we are sure that “I know this one!”
The Image of God
The bedrock scriptural passage for all Christian thinking regarding humanity is Genesis 1:26–27, 31 (NIV):
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,in the image of God he created them;male and female he created them . . .
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
This key anthropological passage contains the English phrasing the image of God, or imago Dei in Latin. There is no shortage of material written on imago Dei, but one fairly standard and representative definition of the image of God is “that man is like God and represents God” (Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology, 442).
By Robby Lashua — 1 year ago
Micah 5:2 meets all three of our requirements and so gives evidence that God was supernaturally involved in the writing of this prophecy. Fulfilled prophecy is evidence that God communicates and is involved in mankind’s history. Pointing out all that Jesus fulfilled can help us draw people’s attention to his message and ministry. Let’s begin to use fulfilled prophecy in our apologetic approach.
If you were God, how would you grab people’s attention? You’d have to do something out of the ordinary, something that would pique people’s interest—something miraculous.
The Bible is a record of God doing this very thing. But what about those of us who have never seen a miracle in our life? How does God get our attention? One way is by performing miracles using history, time, and written records. We call it prophecy.
Biblical prophecy is often overlooked as an apologetic for Christianity. We need to change this. One type of Old Testament prophecy predicts the coming of the Messiah. In fact, some have counted three hundred prophecies predicting when, where, and what the Messiah would be. If we can show these predictions came true, it would help us to build a case for the validity of Scripture, God, and Jesus.
There are three important criteria for using a messianic prophecy in apologetics.
Jesus didn’t fulfill the prophecy deliberately.
The prophecy predates its fulfillment.
The fulfillment of the prophecy can’t be a coincidence.
Once, Jesus appeared to fulfill a prophecy on purpose. Zechariah 9:9 predicted the Messiah would come into Jerusalem seated on a colt. The fulfillment is recorded in Matthew 21:1–11 and John 12:12–16. Jesus, knowing what Zechariah 9:9 had predicted, deliberately fulfilled this prophecy by asking for a colt for his triumphal entry. This kind of fulfilled prophecy would not be persuasive to a non-Christian.
Next, what evidence do we have that a prophecy was written prior to Jesus’ life? If there isn’t evidence the prediction predated the fulfillment, we can’t claim a specific event was foretold and fulfilled in Jesus.