I was looking through a baby app on my phone last week and came across this peculiar sentence:
“Breast milk is nature’s most perfect food for babies. It has just the right proportion and types of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, along with almost all of the vitamins and minerals that a baby needs in the first six months of life.”
Similarly, an article at Fox News was headlined with the title “Mother Nature takes control of Open,” which described the very wet weather conditions of the PGA tournament that golfers dislike.
A slide-show gallery showing up-close photographs of various plants, creatures, and living cells is described as “Amazing Mother Nature” and “Mother Nature from a completely different perspective.”
This article reported on strange triangular shaped cloud formations called mare’s tails that were seen around Seattle. Their origins were described as “the work of Mother Nature, but with a little help from mankind.”
What if we swapped out the term “Mother Nature” for “Our Lord Jesus Christ”? What new meaning do these headlines take on now:
“Breast milk is our Lord Jesus Christ’s most perfect food for babies.”
“Our Lord Jesus Christ takes control of Open.”
“The clouds were the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, but with a little help from mankind.”
“Jesus Christ from a completely different perspective.”
Perhaps some of these substitutions seem inappropriate or just downright irreverent; after all, our Lord doesn’t just take control of anything on a whim because he’s always in control of everything at all times — even the PGA tournament.
Some might just be poor headlines that need to be re-written. You might expect to read about breakthroughs in theology in an article with the headline “Jesus Christ from a completely different perspective,” not view photographs of microbes.
But certainly it seems appropriate that breast milk could be Jesus’ most perfect food for babies since he designed both without the slightest input from any one of us. He is our shepherd. He tends to his flocks, he gathers us in his arms, carries us in his bosom, and he will wipe away every tear from our eyes. He laid down his life for his sheep. [Is. 40:11, Rev. 7:17, John 10] It stands to reason that if every hair on our head is counted [Mat. 10:30], then Jesus, being the designer and creator, has a vested interest in making sure that, as young infants, we are properly cared for. And, as good as man-made baby formula is, scientists still haven’t figured out how to replicate breast milk’s ability to transfer stem cells to the baby.
YOUR WORLD FROM A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW
How radically would it change your worldview if you began consciously swapping out your use of “Mother Nature” with “God” or “Our Lord Jesus Christ”?
Afterall, as Scripture tells us, “by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” [Col. 1:16-17]
The problems arise when we forget that it’s really God, Jesus Christ himself, who is being masked by our language when we personify his works as “Mother Nature.”
Essentially, by doing this we are giving God’s credit to nature, stealing the Creator’s glory and attributing it to His creation instead. This is a no-no, and it is against this innate tendency for which God issued the commandment that “You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 26:1 ESV)
God alone is sovereign and in control of his creation. Creation does not think; “Mother Nature” does not have a mind of her own. It’s God’s providential governance that rules what is colloquially called “the forces of nature.”
I think a vast number of Christians, today, have lost sight of this. How many of you can honestly say that you don’t imagine some impersonal force controlling the weather when you read about “Mother Nature”?
A harmless thing?
A new word is substituted for the original (by who’s initiative, exactly?), and then the meaning of the new word is changed over time. The original purpose and principle is lost as the new word and associated meaning gradually undermine the original.
AN EXAMPLE FROM HISTORY
This is very similar to the history of the US Dollar and most all forms of money. Initially, people traded for goods in terms of gold or silver weight. Some good or service might cost “4 grams of gold” or “1 ounce of gold.” The substance of gold mass was the underlying support of the monetary system. The existence of the gold gave the money system credibility and stability.
But under the guise of patriotism, governments took monopolistic control of the minting of money and, in the process, gave the unit of money a new name. Instead of allowing prices to be established in “ounces” or “grams” of particular precious metals by individuals in a free market (or whatever else it may become), they assumed control over the money supply and transferred the authority of millions of people in the free market to a board of non-elected bureaucrats. Those bureaucrats created a new name for the money — such as “dollar”. They then arbitrarily defined that new money in terms of gold or silver weight — 1/20 of an ounce of gold, for instance.
Over time, people forgot that the dollar was defined as 1/20 ounce of gold. Instead, they began to think of the “price of gold” in terms of dollars — “an ounce of gold costs $35” — which gives the impression that the dollar gives meaning to the gold instead of vice versa.
Through a series of “reforms,” the gold-backed dollar was gradually replaced in a series of steps by international decrees of fiat. Each step placed the actual physical gold a little further away from the hands of the citizens. If they didn’t have foresight enough to cash in their green paper dollars for gold coins when they had a chance (prior to March of 1933) then it would be 45 years and at much higher costs before they’d get the next chance.
The result is that, when people talked about “dollars” in 1900 they were speaking of ounces of gold, but today when people talk about “dollars” they are talking about a fiat currency that has no remaining connection to gold whatsoever, but instead to “what the government says it is.” As a result, the government and its agents (bankers) can counterfeit at will. Its citizens become the victims of constant theft.
Though we may think this name-substitution is a rather innocent maneuver initially, it always leads to debasement: our silver becomes dross, our wine is mixed with water, and our morality is diluted with debauchery.
The one is connected to the other: ethical cause-and-effect. Christians are at fault for this erosion. When we try to compromise with culture, the culture corrupts us. This is the tyrannical power of sin operating in our lives.
Whereas once people may have understood that they were speaking of Jesus Christ when using the loose terms of “nature” or “Mother Nature,” now people have no idea at all that he’s who is ultimately being referred to. Without that base understanding, people are free to sink into the thick mires of their vain imaginations and dredge up all manner of foul misunderstandings about who they think “Mother Nature” really is.
Changing our vocabularly can be a powerful weapon of witness against a largely-godless culture.
Culture has tightened the screws on Christians at the same time. Non-Christians have really fought to make it politically incorrect to reference Jesus or Christianity directly. People don’t want to hear the Gospel and be reminded of their sin, and they become hostile when Christians try. Consequently, Christians cower and comply with the demands of the damned rather than taking dominion in the name of our reigning Lord Jesus Christ.
“Mother Nature” it is. “Jesus Christ” is only for Sunday mornings.
Jesus warned the Apostles that they would be attacked, stoned, and killed for bringing the Gospel to the world, and they accepted their roles with vigor. Modern Christians shrivel up and become timid just as soon as the name-calling and ad hominems go flying.
Instead of ducking stones, we’re ducking pejoratives. Is our acceptance of the use of colloquialisms like “Mother Nature” truly rooted in sound reasoning, or is it an excuse to hide behind our cowardice and flake out by shirking our responsibilities?
Is it reverent to our Lord Jesus when we give verbal and written credit to a fictitious personification of nature, swapping his Lordship with the impersonal forces of chaos and chance of Darwin’s evolution? What about, instead, swapping his loving hand, his graciousness and slowness to anger, with the random whims of a bipolar and reckless “Mother” who is capable of deciding at any moment to destroy us rather than nurture us for no reason any of us can discern?
It is disrespectful to our Lord when we imply to others, especially unbelievers, that instead of being full of mercy, truth, and compassion, he is whimsical, unjust, and arbitrary. If Christians don’t even think that their God is in complete charge of everything, why should anyone else?
Don’t we honestly believe what Paul wrote, that God works all things together for good for those who love him? [Rom. 8:28] Or do we secretly doubt that Paul’s words, the words of the Spirit himself, are good and true?
The Westminster Confession of Faith captured this issue well when it was written there that “God the creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.” [5.1]
God works all things to the purpose of his glorification. Acts of nature are no different.
The pagans have personified nature ever since the Fall. They bowed down to Ashera and Baal. [1 Kings 14:23] God forbids us from swearing by heaven, earth, or any other thing in creation [Mat. 5:33-37, 23:16-22] in matters of small importance where a simple “Yes” or “No” would suffice. To do so is to swear falsely in violation of the Third Commandment, which is an attempt to steal the authority of God’s name from him.
How much worse is it to steal God’s glory and radiance, the goodness of his works, mighty and small, and give them instead to a dumb thing of wood or stone, or an idea that originated from within someone’s depraved brain, in violation of the Second Commandment? How terrible is it to take hold of God’s goodness and justice and rip them apart to be cast down upon the swine of the feckless false gods of creation who men conjure out of their own minds?