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Lowell Brueckner

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God Made the Country


In the beginning, God brought order out of chaos with no help from man. Someone has said that God created man last of all His handiwork, so that he would not interfere with His work. I think we can all agree that man is a wonderful meddler. The record declares, in any case, that man was created on the sixth day and God used that fact as a point of argument in dealing with Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” Thankfully, none of us were there.

  The story is told of a famous painter, who took brush in hand to portray on canvas a masterpiece of a lifetime. He drew inspiration from the depths of his being and moved his hand with all his acquired skill. The work obsessed him. He toiled through long day-light hours and seldom went to his bed before midnight. One day, his son entered the house to find his father napping, exhausted on the couch. His little mind, with the best of intentions, quickly determined to help his poor father with the labor that devoured his time. He slipped into the studio, grabbed a brush, dipped it into oil and within minutes irreparably marred the priceless painting.

Contrasting God’s work and man’s
In Adam’s age, the earth possessed a raw beauty, worthy of the One who formed it, for even His perfect heart was satisfied. God said that it was very good. Ezekiel calls Eden the Garden of God and the remnants of that loveliness still stagger us today. Yet, nature is delicate. The forests and ponds have a natural balance, which will disintegrate, the ecologist tells us, if upset by civilization. Every plant, animal, and insect contribute to the whole and, if even a seemingly insignificant part is removed or damaged, it will start a domino effect that will eventually tumble all.

  Nature was created for the pleasure and glory of the Creator. “Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Referring again to the story of Job, we find the Lord delighted with the work of His hands. He speaks of the wild goats, wild ox, ostrich, horse, hawk and the eagle.

  A tree serves as a shelter and a living home for living creatures. Man takes that tree to build his shelter, kills it and forms a corruptible frame, covering and pre-serving it with a thin layer of paint. He has fallen since the time that he was appointed caretaker of God’s garden, caring little for the longings of His Maker. He cultivates nature to satisfy his whims.

  Man builds towers to house his businesses and offices, stacking hundreds of people over a small plot of ground. God makes mountains. How different are our reactions, when we stand beneath one and then the other! We experience awe under the majesty of the mountain and inside, our soul warms to a worshipful response, because we are gazing upon the handiwork of Almighty God. It teems with life, which man’s best efforts cannot duplicate. Looking on his steel and glass towers, although we may marvel at the technology, deep inside we are unmoved.

  We drive through a city and muse about its organization. There are perfect square blocks and straight lines. Every house and business sits in its appointed place. Every store is licensed and each person has a number. The street corners are strictly regulated. Signals order pedestrians and vehicles to stop and go systematically.

  Somewhere, I have an A. W. Tozer tape, telling of the difficulty of finding spiritual life in an unnatural ambiance of concrete, electric lines and flashing lights. Men of God have always been led away from the hustle and bustle of civilization, worldly ways, and the sterile atmosphere of technology into a solitary place, to find a living God and to hear His voice. 

The subtle order of nature
  If we are accustomed to city life, our first impulse, as we enter a wilderness, might be that we are experiencing chaos. Without any apparent reason, there is a rock obstructing our path. We weave among trees, growing randomly where nature planted them. We walk blindly through a field of grass, higher than our heads. A deer ambles aimlessly, pausing to graze from time to time. The unadapted ear might find sleep difficult, hearing the unmelodious voices of the night creatures.

  Yet, a closer study of the two settings will reveal; in the first, tension, crime and sin out of control; in the second, serenity and beauty, with a subtle, living structure. The rock is a shelter to a den of foxes. The tree is the home of a family of squirrels and in the tall grass, a fawn securely slumbers. God seems near at hand.

A more serious consideration
  I have a higher intention than that of a naturalist, as I undertake to charge mankind with the ruin of God’s handiwork. We are going to consider His church, an organism not designed primarily as an institution to meet the needs of man, but to fulfill a heavenly purpose. It is true that man will find real help and satisfaction there, but only if he enters on God’s terms. The church, you see, is totally God’s idea. Long before He formed the worlds, he pre-destined her to be an everlasting bride for His Son. It is created, not manufactured. It is alive, not sterile and cold. It is built by Christ, ordered by the Holy Spirit, and purposed for the Father’s glory. It possesses a supernatural naturalness.

  Man tries to seize and sophisticate it. He attempts to bring it under his control, numbering and labeling it and all its members. In so doing, he condemns it to death. The living stones (even stones are alive in Christ’s house) are chiseled, made uniform and united by the mortar of sectarian loyalty. What was destined to be an organism, degenerates into an organization. The body becomes a building. The breath becomes a program and a schedule. The grieved Holy Spirit eventually departs. It ceases to be the Son’s bride and the Father is robbed of His earthly glory.

A little heaven on earth
  The pantheist is wrong to teach that all earth’s nature is God. Earth simply reflects the glory of God. However, it seems to me that heaven perhaps can be described as pantheistic. At least, the Bible tells us that the Lamb and He who sits on the throne are the light and the temple thereof. God is in everything there. I don’t expect to see man-made structures in heaven, but perfect, glorious, natural settings, depicting the beauty of God. Heaven is a total theocracy and the will of God is carried out to perfection. In heaven, God keeps records and is in control of every detail. Every angel and redeemed human being finds his place and fills it, without intruding on another or lording over him.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”. In this prayer, we look to a future when Christ will literally reign upon the earth. Nevertheless, our prayers are the words of hypocrites, if there is no passion for the divine will to be performed, as perfectly as possible today, through our lives and corporately through His body, the church. She is meant to be a piece of heaven on earth, manifesting the will and nature of God before the eyes of the world. The Head of the church must take full charge, as the only one capable to realize heaven’s purposes. He must order it and bind it together with infinite care, far beyond the efforts of limited, finite minds and bodies.

God invites us to the privilege of co-labor and cooperation with Christ in the practical work, but we dare not tamper with the blueprint. The poet said, “Only God can make a tree.” Concerning the formation of the living, eternal queen, the bride of the King of Glory, it must be said, “Only Christ can build the church.” ■


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