Romans 1:19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
As a I reflect on this passage, I remember when I was growing up that this passage was used as the justification of throwing Eskimo’s or the tribe in Africa in hell. But, as I have gotten older, and hopefully a little wiser, I have begun to see this differently. Theology calls uses this passage and calls in natural revelation. Nature is used to reveal God. Then nature itself becomes an agent and an expression of God. I wonder how checked out I must be not to experience the illuminating presence of God through the stars, the sunset, the breeze, and the living creatures around me.
Henri Nouwen once said, “When we contemplate creation rather than manipulating it, we are able to see nature as a gift of God to be cherished and cared for. When we receive in our hearts with gratitude and awe what God has created, we see nature as it truly is– a transcendent reality that asks for reverence and respect. Then it becomes transparent, and life starts to speak a new language, revealing to us the goodness and beauty of God. The plants and animals with whom we live teach us about birth, growth, maturation, and death, about the need for gentle care, and especially the importance of patience and hope.”
This has been my hope and prayer for myself recently. I begin to wonder what it would look like to be present to the God who is saturated in all that is around me. I wonder what it would be like to take joy in all of the simplicity of everything that simply is. Instead of using this passage to try and condemn people to hell, I wonder if it is really asking us to enjoy a new presence in everything that is. And, maybe as we have learned to be ministered to by our pastors, priests, and spiritual leaders, I also wonder if we could learn to be ministered by the animals, the rivers, and the sky around us.
“I have long thought that anyone who does not regularly – or ever – gaze up and see the wonder and glory of a dark night sky filled with countless stars loses a sense of their fundamental connectedness to the universe.”- Brian Greene (The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, And the Quest for the Ultimate Theory)