Remembering the Goodness of Creation
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He created light, day, night, sky, land, and sea. He created plants and trees, the sun, moon, and stars. Fish. Birds. Animals. And finally, human beings.
Genesis 1 informs us that God looked at each installment in His created world and “saw that it was good.”
And it was good. It was good. It was good. It was...yada yada yada...good. We get it.
Then after creating humanity, God looked at all He had made and concluded that it was very...wait for it! Yep, you guessed it. Good. “Good” is such a ho-hum word in today’s lexicon. Our culture is prone to inventing fresh new words to express even greater levels of awesomeness. “Amazeballs,” to give just one example, officially entered the Oxford dictionary in 2014. The definition? “Extremely good or impressive; amazing.”
For us, the word “good” falls somewhere in the boring middle of an evaluative spectrum—ranking right alongside “okay” and “fine,” but a mere half-step away from “bad.”
“How was dinner?”
“Yeah, it was fine. You know, it wasn’t amazeballs, but it wasn’t bad.”
I imagine God’s initial response to His creation being slightly more significant than that.
I don’t think God looked at the radiant hues of blues and greens on his newly-fashioned earth and observed the movements of the squirrels and cheetahs and sloths as they scurried and climbed over verdant foliage and freshly packed sediment underneath the whispery clouds in the expansive sky only to shrug and say, “Eh, it’s pretty good. Not great. But you know, it’s okay.”
God’s assessment of creation is not the same as our critique of the newest season of our favorite TV show, or the new Star Wars movie everyone was so eager to see a couple months ago. God’s appraisal is not subjective like ours. While we try to compare dinner, movies, Adele’s newest album, and whatever else to...something, God has the ability to assess and announce simply, “It is good.” God’s declaration in the beginning of Genesis is not arbitrary. It’s not subjective. It’s true. God saw that it was good. And that has implications for each one of us today.
In the words of Madeleine L’Engle, “Story makes us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving. Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically.”
It’s crucial that we understand the goodness of God’s creation, because it’s the beginning of the story of our world. And it’s the beginning of our story. If we don’t understand the absolute and objective goodness in the beginning, then the scope and the significance of the story loses something.
Jesus didn’t come to redeem an evil world. He came to redeem and reclaim a world that was created good.
Understanding the goodness of the beginning of our story helps us understand the tragedy of the following chapter, the glory of the next, and God’s ultimate plans for the future of this world—including His plans for each one of us.
This means that the things we are passionate about, the careers we want to pursue, the hobbies that give us life and energy and joy—all of it stems from the created order of a world that is good.
In Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller writes, “All work has dignity because it reflects God’s image in us, and also because the material creation we are called to care for is good.”
The injustices we want to address, the evils we seek to confront locally and globally, the sins we struggle with and often want to conceal—all of this, though evidence of the fallen nature of God’s creation, should also point us back to the goodness in the beginning. Because we know that this is not God’s original design for His world.
In other words, things weren’t always this way. But here’s the good news: God doesn’t intend for things to remain this way forever.
So understanding the goodness of the beginning should give us hope. If God created a world that was pure, and if God plans to redeem and restore His creation, then we can genuinely long for restoration with an understanding that it’s coming.
Yes, there is work to be done. Yes, we have a part to play in it. Our responsibility is to remember the goodness of God’s creation, to remind ourselves that God created a world that was good, God cares about all of it, and he has a plan to restore it.
That restoration is coming. And just like our story’s beginning, it’s going to be good. Very good.
Who knows? Maybe even amazeballs.
Tyler Charles is Staff Director for Ohio, supervising CCO campus staff. He first joined CCO staff to minister to college students at Ohio Wesleyan University.