Beautiful sunsets, crashing waves at the ocean, cycles of life and death, earthquakes, storms, disease; what can we learn about God from such things?
First, consider the greatness of God. The vastness of the universe reveals a God whose power we cannot comprehend. The complexity of life, and of nature in general, reveals a God whose understanding and creative ability far exceeds our own. Indeed, some reject belief in God simply because they cannot comprehend a God who has power and creative ability that is so unfathomable. Perhaps it would be wiser to acknowledge our own limitations in this area, rather than try to limit God to something we can fully comprehend.
Throughout history, people have struggled with just how great God is. The Italian astronomer Giordano Bruno was among the first to propose an infinitely powerful God based on his understanding of an infinite universe. Unfortunately, few people of his day could comprehend the vastness of the universe as science now understands it to be, and most of the religious leaders of Mr. Bruno’s time insisted on an Earth-centered model of the universe. Mr. Bruno had many other beliefs that were contrary to the religious leaders of his day. Eventually his non-conformist thinking was deemed to conflict with traditional beliefs too much, and history indicates that Mr. Bruno was executed in Rome on February 17, 1600 AD, after a lengthy trial regarding his beliefs.
Giordano Bruno’s understanding about the vastness of the universe is now widely accepted, given the tremendous advancements of scientific knowledge since his death. I believe Mr. Bruno was also right about the greatness of God. This brings us to an important truth about God:
God is greater than we can comprehend.
Second, consider the stark contrasts displayed in nature. Much beauty and joy seems to be paralleled by much ugliness and suffering. And perhaps that is the point: So much of nature is a matter of contrasts. Only when compared with something ugly can we understand the value of beauty. Good health is only appreciated when contrasted with poor health. Peace is valued only to the degree that it is contrasted with conflict. Clean is valued only when contrasted with dirty. So, I conclude from these many contrasts in nature that making distinctions is part of who God is. Distinctions between beauty and ugliness; between good and bad; between healthy and sick; between strong and weak; making distinctions between such things appears to be part of God’s character.
Some might suggest that God is indifferent about such things, since both sides of these contrasts are present in nature. On the contrary, I find that the existence of such contrasts indicates that God does care about them. And just as we people naturally pursue “good” things and reject “bad” things, I think it is clear that God, likewise, prefers “good” things over “bad” things. Let’s summarize this idea this way:
God makes distinctions between things that are good and things that are bad.
This raises an important issue: It seems to me that it would be wise of us to value the things that God values, and reject the things that God rejects.
For Further Reflection:
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