I believe that everything God created is good, therefore useful, and therefore important to experience.
Let me explain.
I recently had a conversation with Tom Breeden and Mark L. Ward, Jr. – the two authors of the book Can I Smoke Pot? Marijuana in Light of Scripture (great read by the way). They begin their discussion on this relevant topic by saying that marijuana is good. I’ll readily admit that this phrase took me aback at first. “How could marijuana be good?” I thought. However, in our conversation, Tom said something important:
“I think the danger is, if we don’t say that marijuana is good we actually risk sinning against God, because, if we can’t say His creation is good, then we’re actually denying something about His work.”
The truth is, everything created by God is naturally good (I wouldn’t, however, say that everything created by God and modified by humans is good). Genesis 1:31 makes this clear, as Moses writes, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” As Christians, we can truthfully and joyfully proclaim that all naturally created things are very good. And we should! Why wouldn’t we want to rejoice in the artwork of our Father?
The next thing I’d argue is that all things good are useful. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines useful as “helping to do or achieve something.” Every good thing that God has created helps do or achieve something – the most profound and beautiful being to bring Him glory. David writes in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
Every created thing by God is good because it ultimately declares His glory.
Now, when I say that everything God created is good, and therefore useful, and therefore important to experience, what exactly do I mean by ‘experience?’ I don’t believe there’s a specific criterion in which to fulfill to fully experience something. I can experience a visit to a new restaurant without sitting at every table, being served by every server, eating everything on the menu, and so on.
Take the small insect, the inch worm.
According to what we’ve been discussing, an inch worm is a naturally created insect by God, and therefore good, and therefore useful, and finally, therefore, important to experience. So, how do we experience an inch worm? We must remember that things can be experienced a multitude of ways. I would never eat, smell, smoke, or discuss political matters with an inch worm, but I would look at it and study its movements. If David Attenborough on the next “Planet Earth” series does a section on the inch worm, I’d be invested.
So, what’s so useful about my experience of looking and learning about the inch worm? Well, whatever brings us to glorify God is useful. So if my experience leads to a better understanding of God and His creation, then God is glorified.
There’s a doctrine in Christian theology called “General Revelation.” This means that God reveals Himself through nature and history (the other form of revelation is called “Special Revelation,” in which God reveals Himself through His Word and through His Spirit). God has much to reveal about Himself in and through His good creation, and He desires us to experience it. Every time we experience a piece of God’s good creation, we learn something more about who God is – in the same way that when we look at a painting or sculpture, we learn something about the painter or sculptor.
It’s important, therefore, to experience God’s good creation. This doesn’t mean we glorify God through getting drunk off alcohol or high off marijuana – some things aren’t meant to be greatly consumed or lit and smoked.
Sometimes all it takes to experience God’s good creation is merely (and profoundly) looking, listening, and/or thinking about.