A common icebreaker, during my walks downtown, is to talk about the weather. “Sure is hot today.” “Looks like rain.” “What a beautiful day.” The weather is something that people tend not to have passionate opinions about and is also something that is easily observable. Someone can talk with me about the weather and I can easily understand the point they are trying to get across.
At the same time, there is something mysterious about the weather. In spite of our often failed attempts at predicting it, we cannot control the weather. It is something beyond the human sphere that, nevertheless, we find ourselves in. The weather is part of nature; part of God’s creation.
Various individuals have argued that glimpses of God can be gained through meteorological observation. An even wider collection of contributors has contended that awareness of God comes through careful analysis of God’s creation
In his book on systematic theology entitled, Christian Doctrine, Shirley C. Guthrie Jr. defines general revelation as “the self-disclosure of God that all people can perceive by contemplating evidence of God’s presence in the world of nature, history, and human life in general.” That is to say, general revelation is the way in which we find God through examination of the world around us.
Popular evidence for such a claim centers on the idea that the universe appears to operate with purpose. The body is an extremely complex system of networks that operate in intricate harmony with one another. We breathe in what trees breathe out and trees breathe in what we breathe out. The acorn that the squirrel drops sprouts roots fed by decomposing leaves as it grows into a replica of its mother. The natural world appears to have order; purpose.
Many a heated debate has revolved around the how of the Genesis 1 story of creation. For the sake of this discussion, we are not concerned with the how, but the why. According to Genesis 1 God creates the heavens and the earth; all of existence; the cosmos. However, God does not just say a couple of words and the world poofs into existence. Rather, there is a method utilized by the Divine Creator.
On the first day God creates light, dark, and time (via the distinction of day and night). On day two God creates the waters below and above, the oceans and the sky, locations recognizable only in the presence of light and dark. On the third day dry ground appears. Dry land only exists in contrast to the seas. Its existence is dependent upon its relationship to that which has come before it. Further still God goes on to create plant life, animals of the land, air, and sea, and finally humans. Each creation made only after that which sustains it has been created. Plants are not created until after there is dry land for them to dwell, water for them to drink, and sunlight for them to “eat.” God’s creation is codependent. As the last part of the process, the pinnacle of creation, humans are dependent upon all that has come before them; all of Creation. Human beings gain purpose through relationships with the world around them. This relationship driven purpose is not isolated to ecology, but dwells within our own intra-species interactions.
Perhaps a more easily observable conclusion can be drawn from another famous founder. Perhaps my favorite mortal creator, the late Jim Henson has utilized intricate relationships is his creation of the worlds of The Muppets, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock. It takes a powerful creator to turn several yards of felt into a banjo playing theatre manager who has an on-again, off-again relationship with Miss Piggy. However, Kermit is just a puppet if not for his best friend Fozzie, temper with Gonzo, and patience with Animal. Kermit is Kermit because of the relationships he has with the world around him.
Like Kermit, we too are defined by our relationships. I know myself, my environment, and God through my relationship with you. The Kingdom of God is not to be studied, but observed. Sometimes, the most devout questions are not answered by theologians, but by the stranger. Sometimes glimpses of Heaven can be gained by asking, “How about this weather?”
This inspirational word was brought to you by Ben Wright of Grace & Main Fellowship.