Why Did God Make Us? Was He Just Lonely?
If you were God, and possessed all knowledge and power, existed for eternity, and had no need for anything, what would motivate you to create anything outside of yourself? A book I am reading called Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves tries to answer this question. Reeves starts by referencing a very old answer from ancient Babylon’s creation story:
What Sharing Pigs Teach Us About God:
Now the Christian God is completely opposite of the self-gratifying Marduk. To see this, we don’t even have to open the Bible. If Marduk had his way, creation would not be extravagant, it “would simply provide the raw materials to keep the work-gang going.”3)Ibid., 56. However, this is not how our world actually works, especially if you look at animals. C. S. Lewis explains: “Talking of beasts and birds, have you ever noticed this contrast: that when you read a scientific account of any animal’s life you get an impression of laborious, incessant, almost rational economic activity . . . but when you study any animal you know—what at once strikes you is their cheerful fatuity, the pointlessness of nearly all they do. Say what you like…the world is sillier and better fun than they make out.” 4)C.S. Lewis, Collected Letters: Books, Broadcasts, and War, 1931–1949, ed. Walter Hooper (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), p. 930.
Lewis gives an example of what he means: I saw “one young pig cross the field with a great big bundle of hay in its mouth and deliberately lay it down at the feet of an old pig. I could hardly believe my eyes. I’m sorry to say the old pig didn’t take the slightest notice. Perhaps it couldn’t believe its eyes either.” 5)C. S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3 (HarperCollins, Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 363-365.
The Difference Between Gift-Love and Need-Love:
When we open the Bible, we find a God who creates humans not because he wants slaves to gratify himself, but because he is love, and can’t help but express love. Unlike the other ancient gods who created people as slaves to look after them and to bring them food, the Christian God creates people whom he clothes and feeds. Yes God gives humanity work to do, but it is dignifying work: “to name the creatures”, and “to cultivate the garden”. Work is not slave labor, but creative imitation. Genesis states clearly that God made people with dignity and worth because he made them in His image. The image of God speaks directly to creativity and art: it “affirms human creativity as something good since it is an imitation of one of God’s own acts and perfections…The creative impulse of the artist is an expression of human likeness to God.”6)Leland Ryken, The Liberated Imagination: Thinking Christianly About the Arts (Wheaton, Ill.: H. Shaw Publishers, 1989), 67.
This kind of theology “makes all the difference: is this world a desert of mere, grim survival—a workhouse for the gods—or is it the gift of the most kind and generous Father?”7)Reeves, 57 Of course the conclusion of Christian theology is that like a fountain, our God does not give out of need, but out of fullness.
Little Pictures of God:
If we taste love that comes from fullness, we no longer have to love from a place of need. The message of Christianity is that God’s love displayed for others “renders visible the god who in himself cannot be seen.”10)Robert W. Yarbrough, 1-3 John, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 245. Jesus made it very clear that people are most like God when they love others. So Reeves concludes: “Have you ever known someone so magnetically kind and gracious, so warm and generous of spirit that just a little time spent with them affects how you think, feel and behave? Someone whose very presence makes you better—even if only for a while, when you are with them? I know people like that, and they seem to be little pictures of how God is. 11)Reeves, 26.
One of the best side-effects of being created in the image of a giving God, is that our work in the world becomes significant. Work is not slave-labor but the thing we were made for. It is not to be performed: “as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. That… man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.”12)Dorothy L. Sayers, Creed or Chaos? (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1949).
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012), 39.|
|4.||↑||C.S. Lewis, Collected Letters: Books, Broadcasts, and War, 1931–1949, ed. Walter Hooper (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), p. 930.|
|5.||↑||C. S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3 (HarperCollins, Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 363-365.|
|6.||↑||Leland Ryken, The Liberated Imagination: Thinking Christianly About the Arts (Wheaton, Ill.: H. Shaw Publishers, 1989), 67.|
|8.||↑||Reeves, 47. Quoting Jonathan Edwards.|
|9.||↑||C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1960), 1-4.|
|10.||↑||Robert W. Yarbrough, 1-3 John, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 245.|
|12.||↑||Dorothy L. Sayers, Creed or Chaos? (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1949).|