What It Means to Be Created (James 4:13-14)
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” — 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. -James 4:13–14
There are two types of reality in existence: the Creator and the created. There is one who makes and one who is made. There is God alone, the Creator, and then everything else as his creation, including us. We are creatures. Creatures. That is the foundational category beneath these words from the apostle James.
What does it mean to be a creature? Well, first — and this is important — it means we are not the Creator. It means we don’t make reality. We don’t bring about tomorrow. We didn’t start today and we won’t be the ones to finish it. This realization, as simple as it is, is indispensably humbling.
Do you realize that right now you are breathing air in a given universe? It is given. You exist in a world you did not make. You move in space that comes from another. Everything around us is put into order and kept by Someone other than ourselves.
This isn’t rocket-science, but to be sure, the darkness of our fallen hearts resists bowing to this truth. The first thing that sin corrupts is how we submit as creatures. Or, in fact, we could say that the essence of sin is the despising of our creatureliness. Wasn’t that the case with Adam and Eve in the Garden? Satan deceived them by the thought that God was distinct from them, which he is. But Satan’s tactic was to make our first father and mother doubt God’s goodness in it. God knew things (and still does) that Adam and Eve didn’t, and they were tricked to think this was malicious. In the effort to “bridge” the gap they took the fruit. It was nothing less than a futile attempt to reinvent themselves. They despised the way God made them and sought to spin into being an improved existence. But they were creatures, remember, and so corruption entered the story. Adam and Eve wanted to rule the today and tomorrow. And in the darkness of our hearts, so do we.
But today and tomorrow is not ours. What is our life? We are a mist. We appear for a little time and then we are gone. Vanished. We are creatures.
So do we sulk? Do we complain about our creatureliness? No. We bow. We kneel our hearts to God. We yield our lives to his sovereign rule. And we know that his command of reality is for our good in Jesus Christ. He is a good God and his distinction from us is not malicious — it is marvelous.