Christians have always wanted to be known as people of the Book. Ever since we were little children, we’ve been singing “I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.”
But there is another book to stand on. It too is authored by God. We’ve said that for centuries. But sometimes we have forgotten.
We know him . . . by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God: his eternal power and his divinity . . . (Belgic Confession, Article 2).
This world is “like a beautiful book.” Paul said so in Romans 1:20: “God’s . . . eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been mad . . .”
We live and move on the pages of a book written by God to tell us about God. The world’s amazing resources, its phenomenal wonders, its teeming creatures all are chapters in one of God’s books pointing us toward himself.
That means we must walk carefully. We must preserve the text of Volume 1 (it was, after all, written first) as carefully and reverently as we protect the text of Volume 2. We must be as careful not to distort the pages of God’s first book as we are to honor the pages of his second. We must be as hesitant to call the first book “mine” as we are to say that about the second. We must be as attentive to all the paragraphs of Volume 1 as we are to all the verses in Volume 2.
Recently I was pumping gas into my car when a neighbor walked up to greet me. He had a handful of discarded paper and other trash. I said to him, “Cleaning up the neighborhood?” He answered, “Of course; it belongs to the King, and nothing is too good for the King.”
That, I think, must be the attitude of us all. The story began when God “wrote” the book to which I refer and then told the first major characters in the story to take care of it. And it continues to this day, with God expecting each of us individually—and all of us corporately—to take care of the “beautiful book” that shows us who God is.
I have heard folks say that our primary task is to tell others about Jesus. With that I would never argue. But too often that means they pay much more attention to Volume 2 than Volume 1.
Let’s remember that Volume 1 was written not only to provide us with a comfortable environment in which to live but to remind us of its author and point others to him. Volume 1 is not only the first to be written; it is almost always the first to be read. If we do not care for it and protect it and honor it and preserve it, we distort its message and make it difficult or impossible for others to read. Such failure also shows disrespect for its author, who told us to take good care of it for him.
We care for this book the way we ought to when we let it point us and others to the author of that other book, the one that tells the even better story of the new creation.