Is it simply the songs we sing in worship services? The prayers we offer in our small groups? The words of a sermon?
Or is the truth we seek and find in these settings also threaded throughout our larger lives and broader landscapes?
Philip Yancey addresses these questions in a reflection in Christianity Today, drawing heavily on creation as one mode for inspiration and holy communion outside the physical walls of the church building. According to Yancey (paraphrasing Eugene Peterson), we rely upon “the whole good world” to deepen and extend our understanding of and connection to God:
“It was this whole good world outside as much as anything that brought me back to Christian faith. I emerged from childhood with a distorted image of God: a frowning Supercop looking to squash anyone who might be having a good time. I have since come to know God as a whimsical artist who fills the world with creatures like the porcupine and skunk and warthog, who lavishes the world with wildflowers and tropical fish more beautiful than any design on display in an art museum.”
What we find in “the whole good world” gives texture, taste, color—ultimately, a rich, swelling, fleshing-out—to what we know of God, and what we make of this life he’s given us.
After all, says Yancey, referring to the words of historian Mark Noll, “the rest of the world grows clearer, not dimmer, in the light of Christ. God created matter; in Jesus, God joined it.”