The Great Upholder

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Providence

“He [Jesus] upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

We are very used to thinking of creation as a single event, something which happened at a single point of time. This is not the view of Bible. Rather than creation being a single, finished event it is understood as something which is ongoing. God creates the heavens and the earth, and he continues to sustain it. No idea of making something, setting it going and then leaving it alone. Rather the idea is that the God who is being continues to keep things in existence though the life which he gives.

In this passage, Christ is identified as the one who sustains the universe. There is a logic here: if creation was spoken into being with a “let there be...” (Genesis 1), and if Jesus is the Word of God (John 1), then it follows that Jesus is the one through whom everything came into being. As the Apostle Paul puts it: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:16). More: in Acts 3:15, Jesus is referred to as the “Author of Life”.

Life not only came from God, but continues to come from God. This is the way in which Christ “upholds” the universe, and This act of upholding serves to underline our entire dependence upon God. We not only owe him our existence, but also our continuing existence. As life flows back into the countryside in Spring, it flows from God. As life ebbs from the body at death, it continues in eternity before God.

What is Providence?

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17) - Providence is not a word much used in Christian speech. Whilst a very common concept in the writings of previous ages, for whatever reason it has faded from much of the modern church. Providence is more than mere foreknowledge. In Christian terms it is the understanding that God continues to care for his creation and his people. And he cares through providing for it and for us.

God Given Growth

“With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” - So Christian, fret not! We may be weak but God is strong. The Gospel is still good news, and the scriptures still have their power. Mustard plants need mustard seeds, and revivals in the fortune of the church need small starts. Maybe what we are experiencing now is just the beginning of that small start.

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