A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make… What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind. They are more like statues or pictures of God (p. 157-8).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
This quote could be reflected upon in many technical ways. It explains why scientists can create an artificial heart, but not muscle tissue or a blood cell. It provides a framework for understanding how God the Father and God the Son are one essence. But my purposes here are not technical. I hope they remain very practical.
We, as people “made” in the image of God, reflect something that Jesus possesses as the “only begotten” Son of the Father. We were made with dirt and inside of time to point to something greater than ourselves. Jesus is eternal, existing outside of time, sharing the same nature as God the Father.
With the exception of human beings, signs do not get the privilege of knowing what they point to. That is the uniqueness of the Bible and the incarnation. In Genesis 1-2 God revealed to humanity that we were created to reflect His glory. Through the rest of the Old Testament, we grow in our knowledge of the character and glory of the God whose image we bear.
In the incarnation, God became like the image-bearers He created. We were broken signs – reflecting a distorted view of God based upon our bent nature and the lies we embraced. Rather than discarding us as the broken signs we were, God showed us His glory in the constraints of what our senses and understanding could bear to call us to point back to Him.
God acted as a Father towards His creation. Steve Jobs would not do this for a broken I-pad. Truett Cathy could not do this for a spoiled Chic-Fil-A sandwich. A carpenter would not do this for a warped board. Even if it were possible, the sacrifice would seem absurd.
Yet the outlandishness of God’s actions are meant to set our hearts straight and point them back to Him. How could we now believe that God would withhold good from us? How could we believe the lie that God was trying to restrict our freedom in any way that is to our detriment?
But we should take this reflection a step further. When we see God relating as a Father to what He “made” not just what He “begot,” we should both find rest and be challenged.
First, we should rest in the reality that God is a good Father. Like the toy maker (Geppetto) in Pinocchio, God loves His creation even though it is only made in His image. When you are loved as a son/daughter even before you have life (Eph 2:1-10), you can rest in the love of the Father who adopts you (Rom. 8:15-17).
Second, we should be challenged as parents. We are called to respond towards our children (our begotten) as God has responded to us (His creation). He chose the name “Father” as the name by which we primarily address Him to daily remind us of this. It is in this relationship to our children that we should most faithfully and clearly be the sign, pointing to Him, that we were created to be.