Trinity

Why Did God Make Us? Was He Just Lonely?

“Single God, Nonsmoker, Seeks Attractive Creation with Good Sense of Humor . . .”1)Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012), 39.

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:

“the god Marduk puts it bluntly: he will create humankind so that the gods can have slaves. That way the gods can sit back and live off the labor of their human workforce. Now Marduk is more plain-speaking than most other gods, but whatever the religion, most gods since have tended to like his approach…Imagine a god who is the origin and cause of everything else. He brought everyone and everything into being. Now before he caused anything else to exist, this god was all alone. He had not made anyone yet. Solitary for eternity, then. And so, for eternity this solitary god can have had nobody and nothing to love. Love for others is clearly not his heartbeat. Of course he would probably love himself, but such love we tend to think of as selfish and not truly loving. By his very nature, therefore, this lonely, single god must be fundamentally inward-looking and not outgoingly loving. Essentially, he is all about private self-gratification. That, therefore, is the only reason why he would create.” 2)Ibid., 39-40.

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.

“The eighteenth-century New England theologian Jonathan Edwards put it strikingly. God’s aim in creating the world, he said, was himself. But because this God’s very self is so different from that of any others, that means something utterly different from what it would mean with other gods. This God’s very self is found in giving, not taking. This God is like a fountain of goodness, and so, he said, ‘seeking himself’ means seeking ‘himself diffused and expressed’—in other words, seeking to have himself, his life and his goodness shared…In contrast to all other gods, the exuberant nature of this God means that his pleasure ‘is rather a pleasure in diffusing and communicating to the creature, than in receiving from the creature.'”8)Reeves, 47. Quoting Jonathan Edwards.

Little Pictures of God:

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves that there is a qualitative difference between God’s love for us, which he calls “gift-love” and our love for God, which is a “need-love.”9)C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1960), 1-4. The difference is that we absolutely need God’s love because we are empty in ourselves, whereas he gives his love to us freely out of his fullness.

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).

Recommended Books:

  
  
  
  
  
The Trinity – What Sharing Pigs Teach Us About God, Work, and Art

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