Read: Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about[d] these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
I’ve been a pastor for more than 30 years, and actively engaging the scriptures years longer than that. Yet, I continue to be amazed at how God’s word in scripture speaks to us where we are in life. Every time I read the Bible I see things and learn thing that I hadn’t perceived before. I am not alone in this; it is a common experience. The opening book of the Bible, Genesis, is particularly rich in this way. There is great wisdom there for our spiritual journey.
In Genesis chapter 1, as God is creating day after day, scripture notes six times that God saw that “it was good”. Then in verse 31, after creating humanity in God’s own image and likeness, God looks at all that God had created and the scripture says:
“God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” – Genesis 1:31
That’s how the first chapter of the Bible ends: with the declaration from God that creation is very good. That may seem like a small point; I have come to believe that it is not small at all. In our culture we focus so much of our attention on the negative. Sometimes it feels that we are constantly under a barrage of negativity. It impacts the way we view life, and ourselves, and others, and all of creation.
Let us consider, that at the very foundations of creation, is the affirmation that creation is good, and that life is very good. That’s God’s opinion. Is that your perspective? How can we better foster a perspective within us that shares God’s life-giving, life-affirming ways? Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi gives us encouragement and an important path forward. Paul tells them and us to focus on those things that are positive, beautiful, excellent, sincere, trustworthy – things that are worthy of praise.
This is not about being unwilling to acknowledge problems, crisis, and the “ugly” in the world; it is about not getting mired down in it. It is about being committed to the deep and powerful wisdom of love, life, and becoming grounded in the “big picture”, the “God’s eye-view” of the value of creation – the very goodness of life.
Pastor Rob Nystrom