When I preached this message I began with the video below.
When we realize Who Jesus is we won't be able to refrain ourselves from worshipping Him.
We can barely grasp Him as a man, we are even farther from comprehending Him as God.
Christmas season is here and people, at least here in the southern portion of the US, are thinking about the birth of Jesus. Okay, maybe not that many people are thinking about the birth of Jesus, but it is on people’s minds more than any other time of the year. People often picture Jesus either as a baby in the manger or crucified as an adult. Think of all the times you have seen a portrayal of Jesus and roughly estimate the percentage of times Jesus was portrayed either as a Baby in the manger or crucified.
We struggle to grasp Jesus’ existence on earth as one of us, trying to understand Jesus as God is even more challenging.
Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
- Revelation 14:6-7 NKJV (bold mine)
God is worshiped because He is the creator. If God was to be worshiped solely because of Jesus’ earthly ministry only human beings would worship God. But God is worshiped by all creatures, even angels, though Jesus did not die for them, but because God created them all.
Believing that God is our creator has all kinds of implications. Worship shapes our lives, who we worship shapes our destiny. At the heart of the 10 commandments we have a reminder of creation along with a call, an invitation, a command to keep the Sabbath holy because of what God did as our creator.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
- Exodus 20:8-11 NKJV (bold mine)
I would like to point out a fascinating detail, a link between Revelation 14:7 and Exodus 20:11. These two texts are the only two places in all of Scripture where the words “made,” “heaven,” “earth,” and “sea” are repeated in that same exact order. Many see this as evidence that John, as he wrote Revelation 14, was reminded of the Sabbath and the 4th commandment. Worship is a big deal, who we worship is crucial, and when we worship appears to be a pretty big deal.
But this is a post about Jesus, how does Jesus play into all this talk of worship and creation?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend [or overcome] it.
- John 1:1-5 NKJV (bold and brackets mine)
Jesus is God and creation did not take place without Him. You could say that everything in creation that is, is because of Jesus, and without Him nothing could ever be.
Paul puts it this way
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
- Colossians 1:16-17 NKJV (bold mine)
I imagine it as Jesus holding our reality together. I don’t know about you, but this kind of statement, these ideas, they just blow my mind. I need to take a step back and ponder the implications. Jesus is so much bigger than what we tend to think.
Speaking of sizes, consider the words of Psalm 19.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Psalm 19:1 NKJV
The study of the heavens should help us better understand the glory and power of God, and how much bigger He is then what we tend to imagine.
I remember hearing, and probably reading as well, about the fights between science and the church during the medieval period. I heard how the church taught geocentrism (the idea that earth is the center of the universe), and how it fought against scientists who discovered that the earth in fact revolved around the sun.
“the Catholic Church considered Galileo's heliocentric theory to be heretical. It placed Copernicus's book on its Index of Restricted Books and tried Galileo before the Inquisition. Galileo was forced to recant the heliocentric theory and was placed under house arrest for the last eight years of his life.”
(read more here or you could just google it for more sources on this topic)
Some say the Bible teaches this. I have yet to be convinced. The theory I find more plausible is that the geocentric theory came into the church through philosophy, not theology. Aristotle “proved” that God exists and unofficially became the standard for science until the Renaissance. Aristotle placed the Earth at the center of the universe, and the church never questioned it and embraced it. Some say it was Ptolemy who produced the authoritative text on astronomy and he used a geocentric model. Either way, this model is not tied to any specific Bible texts.
I believe that the church adopted the geocentric views because it made sense in light of their understanding that man was the pinnacle of God’s creation. After all, why else would God choose to be born as a human baby in terrible conditions and die for us if we were not the center of the universe? When you think about it that way, it kinda makes sense.
Jesus became one of us and died for us.
So, we must be very precious to God.
Therefore we must be all that God has.
Putting things into perspective
There is an interesting TEDx talk by Michelle Thaller about Dark Mater that really piqued my interest. She describes how a spiral galaxy, like our Milky Way, is made up of about 1/2 trillion stars, or 500 billion stars. Though the earth revolves around our sun, our sun revolves around the center of the milky way, and it takes 1/4 billion years for our sun to go around once. She also shares how end to end, our is galaxy is 100,000 light-years across.
Not only are we not the center of our solar system, but we are also infinitely small.
But wait, there’s more!
Hubble Ultra Deep Field
This view of nearly 10,000 galaxies is the deepest visible-light image of the cosmos. Called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, this galaxy-studded view represents a "deep" core sample of the universe, cutting across billions of light-years.
The Ultra Deep Field observations, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys, represent a narrow, deep view of the cosmos. Peering into the Ultra Deep Field is like looking through an eight-foot-long soda straw.
In ground-based photographs, the patch of sky in which the galaxies reside (just one-tenth the diameter of the full Moon) is largely empty. Located in the constellation Fornax, the region is so empty that only a handful of stars within the Milky Way galaxy can be seen in the image.
- http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2004/07/image/a/ 3/19/14
So it turns out that the emptiest piece of the night sky is not so empty. This image required 800 exposures taken over the course of 400 Hubble orbits around Earth. The total amount of exposure time was 11.3 days, taken between Sept. 24, 2003, and Jan. 16, 2004. (Spacetelescope.org)
I guess we have established that we are not the center of the universe. In fact, the more science and technology advance the more evidence there is of the vastness of our universe, the smaller we become, the more amazing God’s grace to care so much about the tiny inhabitants of a speck of dust planet.
But that’s not all
“It turns out that roughly 68% of the universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27%. The rest - everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter - adds up to less than 5% of the universe. Come to think of it, maybe it shouldn't be called "normal" matter at all, since it is such a small fraction of the universe.” (NASA)
Many continue to wrestle with this mystery and there are many theories available, but none have managed to provide a satisfactory answer. One theory is the following:
The first property that Einstein discovered is that it is possible for more space to come into existence. Then one version of Einstein's gravity theory, the version that contains a cosmological constant, makes a second prediction: "empty space" can possess its own energy. Because this energy is a property of space itself, it would not be diluted as space expands. As more space comes into existence, more of this energy-of-space would appear. As a result, this form of energy would cause the universe to expand faster and faster. Unfortunately, no one understands why the cosmological constant should even be there, much less why it would have exactly the right value to cause the observed acceleration of the universe.
- NASA (bold mine)
Ultimately, the consensus seems to be that the thing that is needed to decide between dark energy possibilities - a property of space, a new dynamic fluid, or a new theory of gravity - is more data, better data. (NASA)
There is an article from Time Magazine that has this to say about Dark Matter
It’s a mystery that has haunted astronomers for nearly 80 years now: what is the mysterious dark matter that outweighs ordinary matter—all of the atoms that make up stars, galaxies and clouds in the cosmos—by a factor of four to one? We know with near-certainty that it’s out there because of its powerful gravity. Galaxies spin so fast that they’d fly apart without the massive cocoon of dark matter that surrounds them, pervades them and holds them together.
The most recent information I found on Dark Matter and Dark Energy came from Gizmodo
Five-sixths of the universe’s stuff seems to be missing, and we just can’t find it. It’s called “dark matter,” and scientists have gone looking for it with some of the world’s largest, most expensive experiments.
Time and time again, these experiments come up empty handed. Most recently, the scientists at the XENON1T experiment, a literal ton of super-sensitive liquid xenon, didn’t find the signal they were looking for after a nine-month search. Nor has the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland, managed to turn up anything. So, you might wonder, what are we looking for and why? And why are the world’s physicists so deeply divided about what “dark matter” could be?
But the most significant evidence for dark matter, as University of Chicago physicist Dan Hooper explained at a recent conference, comes from observations of the large-scale structure of the universe itself. It seems to be taking on some sort of gravitational structure for apparently no reason, so something—something thus far undetectable to us—has to be holding it all together. Calculations now imply that there’s around five times more of this dark stuff than regular matter.
- Gizmodo (bold mine)
I recognize that I am not an expert in any branch of Physics, and I am not trying to discuss nuances of the research, I am here simply as someone who finds this fascinating. I am totally biased as I read all this because I am reading this as a Christian with a background in biblical theology. I will bring up one more theory and I’ll share my thoughts on what I take away from all this.
A theory of everything (ToE) or final theory, ultimate theory or master theory refers to the hypothetical presence of a single, all-encompassing, coherent theoretical framework of physics that fully explains and links together all physical aspects of the universe.
(Wikipedia [I know Wikipedia is not a reliable primary source but I like the simple way it summarizes this.] for more information you can also check out Steven Weinberg. Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-307-78786-6.)
For the sake of brevity I will focus on String Theory, and to keep things simple I’ll share how NOVA puts it.
Far from being a collection of chaotic experimental facts, particle properties in string theory are the manifestation of one and the same physical feature: the resonant patterns of vibration—the music, so to speak—of fundamental loops of string. The same idea applies to the forces of nature as well. Force particles are also associated with particular patterns of string vibration and hence everything, all matter and all forces, is unified under the same rubric of microscopic string oscillations—the "notes" that strings can play.
The way a string-theory string vibrates may confer the properties of various fundamental particles, just as the way a violin's string vibrates confers the resonant frequencies we recognize as different musical notes.
- Brian Greene ( NOVA)
As a pastor, what comes to mind when I read this is the creation account found in Genesis 1, where God speaks and creation takes place.
Think about it, God speaks = sound = vibration
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
- Genesis 1:1 NKJV
Also, since the creation account is found in the form of poetry, I like to imagine God singing as creation takes place.
The Bible tells us that God speaks and creation takes place (Genesis 1). The Bible also tells us that Jesus is the Word (John 1). Science tells us that something is holding all of reality together and we cannot detect what it is with our instruments.
I say there is room for God. I am not suggesting that we stop studying or searching, I just don’t see science as being opposed to God, I see strong possibilities for both to get along. I look at science and I see evidence of God.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV
It is fascinating that in any area of study, physics, math, biology, chemistry, there comes a point where things are taken by faith. We know enough and for the remainder we make an educated leap. We are unable to prove everything. I am comfortable with that. I just don’t appreciate it when people make it seem like faith exists solely in the realm of religion and spirituality. In religion, I believe we also ought to study and advance. However, inevitably our studies and research will only take us so far, then we take a leap, but it is not a leap in the dark, it is an educated leap, a leap into the light. I do not believe in, or preach a blind faith, but rather that we all believe things by faith.
The beautiful thing about faith is that it is available to everyone. A child can believe, and a Ph.D. can believe, it is available to both artists and engineers. Salvation is available to everyone because it is by grace through faith. You don’t need to answer every single question, just enough to make the leap. I believe there is plenty to support the Christian faith. We may not be able to explain everything in great detail, but then again, neither can science. There is a beauty to enjoying the journey that must be admired. The journey should continue, we should remain curious and with a teachable spirit, but until certain things can be proven, its okay to take them by faith.
I would like to close with Acts 4. I would highly recommend you read the entire chapter, but allow me to share with you a few verses below.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:8-12 NKJV (bold mine)
Ultimately we believe in Jesus by faith but it is not a blind faith. Jesus is our creator and our savior, science can’t find Him, but there is plenty of room for Him, and by the way, He is coming again.
Yes, I believe in these things.
I believe it is all about Jesus.
I believe we can sum it all up in