Our Place in the World

The next time you’re outdoors, spend some time noticing all that which is around you. Take notice of the blades of grass that sprout forth from the ground. Look at the bark on the tree. Observe the birds and squirrels as they forage and chatter. The precision with which God has created all things is quite remarkable. It’s no wonder that diverse portions of Scripture from the poetry of Psalms to the prose of Romans proclaim the wonder of God’s creation.

Nonetheless, there is something even more grand than the seas, the stars, and the sun. What is it? People. Psalm 8 expresses that the grandeur of creation might, at first, make us feel rather small and inadequate. After all, what am I in comparison to the work of God in the skies? However, the truth is, God has given us the task of caring for and cultivating that which God has made. Psalm 8:5 states that man has been crowned with “glory and majesty.”

On the one hand, we can certainly see Christ in the Psalm. Jesus is truly the One who is crowned with glory, having all these under His feet. Yet, this would also seem to be an echo of the creation account in which Adam and Eve, as those made in the image of God, are said to have dominion in the garden.

Creation is indeed remarkable. It is also remarkable that God invites the created to care for what He has made. Psalm 8 is a Psalm which helps us understand our identity and where we fit in the big picture. None of us is God; nor are we the coming Messiah. But, we are not just another part of the creation to be considered alongside the trees, the birds, and the squirrels. We occupy the in-between space. We are different from God, and we are also different from the rest of creation. We are created, yet we are meant to reflect the Creator in unique ways.

This truth ought to make us pause and reflect on how we view other people. We all probably have sources of frustration and irritation. We all probably wish that people would just view things the way I view them and then there wouldn’t be any problems. If we are not careful, we can begin to think ourselves as the one with all the answers. In short, we can begin thinking of ourselves as functioning in the role of God. The Scriptures have a word for this: idolatry. In the biblical story, idolatry always leads to the mistreatment of others.

We must live our lives with a great sense of responsibility—after all, we are unlike the rest of creation. And yet we must also live our lives with a great sense of humility—after all, we are not God. Let us be thankful for the world we have, appreciative of our role within it, and humble enough to serve the One who ultimately reigns.