God is Self-Giving Creator
Text: Genesis 1:26-31, Philippians 2:4-11
There are few things in life more enjoyable to me than a succulent summer strawberry. It’s even better in pie form. Strawberries didn’t have to be amazing. God could have created an entirely bland world filled with only broccoli’s and cauliflower’s (which in my opinion is evidence of the fall) and no cheese to drown out the taste. But he chose to make “spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food”. God isn’t merely a functional creator. He is extravagant in the way he decorates His creation. Why does he do this?
John Calvin was certainly correct when he referred to creation as a “dazzling theater of God’s glory”. It certainly is a display of his power, his majesty, and his glory. But it’s also a display of His goodness and His self-giving nature. God didn’t have to create. And He certainly didn’t have to create things as wonderful as He did.
Theologians have discussed for ages what it means for humanity to be made in the image of God. One thing we can say for certain is that God makes us in His image is a testimony of God’s self-giving character. The greatest gift God is giving is the gift of Himself. He created humanity in His image to have the capacity to enjoy creation just as he enjoys creating. Being created in the image of God is first and foremost a gift from a benevolent Creator. And we are called to reflect this self-giving God.
We were placed on this cosmic stage to bring glory to the Author. But we’ve attempted to upstage Him. We foolishly labor to make the story about us instead of Him. The placement of two trees in the garden would be a test of the devotion of our first couple. Would they enjoy all of creation that was gifted or fixate on the one tree which wasn’t to be grasped? This would expose whether they would worship and serve the Creator or the creation. They, just as we, failed in this test. Their hearts became beholden to stuff instead of to God.
We’re just as the first couple. The sad story of humanity is that we worship and serve creation rather than the Creator. It’s a foolish exchange but one we engage in daily. Will I enjoy a strawberry just as a strawberry or will I see it as a kind gift of the self-giving Creator? Apart from grace we’ll make strawberries into gods to serve our own drama.
Thankfully, Jesus came to rescue us from our foolish self-worship. What does it mean that Jesus “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped”? It means that the very that He is deity caused him to be self-giving instead of self-consumed. It’s the very nature of God to give of himself. And Jesus does exactly this, when he takes “the form of a servant” and becomes “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”.
By doing this Jesus is restoring in us the ability to enjoy a strawberry, because he is putting things back in their proper order. The Son perfectly reflects the self-giving Father and he calls us into a life of self-giving love. He has given of himself to make us a new creation!
Enjoy God through creation today. See it as a sign of his self-giving love to you. And reflect on ways that you too can be self-giving.
God: Father, you are such a wonderful creator. Thank you for the gifts that you’ve given to us. You did not have to make creation beautiful, but you did. You’ve given me the joys of family. You’ve given beautiful sunsets, delicious foods, wonderful creatures, and so much more. You put such beauty even into the small things. And I know that I too am fearfully and wonderfully made. I know that this is all to be a display of your glory and your goodness. I know that it’s a display of your majesty and glory as well. But it also shows that you give of yourself to us creatures.
Man: I’m but part of your creation. This means that I’m not God. I’m not the center of the story, you are. But I confess that so often I see the whole world through my tiny vision. I make idols out of your good gifts. I turn and worship the creation instead of you. My fear of man is a picture of this. I make things too big and you too small. Create in me a heart that sees things as they actually are. I know that when this happens, I’ll be freed up to be more self-giving in my character. As it is, fear so often drives me to cling to things which I think are mine. Help me trust you.
Christ: Thank you Jesus that you aren’t like me. You are in fact God but you didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped. Your self-giving love is the reason that I have any hope. You have restored to me humanity. You are restoring the image of God within me. All of creation was created by, through, and for you and yet you’ve given of yourself so that I might have life. I’m grateful that your work has made me a new creation. May your Spirit help me to reflect your self-giving love.
Response: Lord, I want to enjoy your creation better. And I want my enjoyment of your creation not to turn me inward into selfishness but to be turned outward into self-giving love for others. May my enjoyment of you be a way to testify of your greatness. Give me eyes to see your fingerprints today. Help me to look to others as more significant than myself. I want to reflect you.
Now you give it a shot:
 Calvin Institutes, 1.5.8