God Loves “Stuff”
Yes, you read that correctly. Let me say it again: God loves “stuff”! What kind of “stuff” does God love? Well, stuff like the dirt that gets stuck under your fingernails when you are working in the garden. Stuff like the sweat your body produces when you are working out in the gym. Stuff like the grass and the trees, the snow on the ground, the clouds in the sky and the stars in the heavens. Stuff like the birds of the air and the beasts of the field, even the slimy insects that we tend to view as “pests.” God even (perhaps I should say “especially”) loves “stuff” like the human body and all of its various functions (eating, drinking, seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, sleeping, sex, etc.).
Of course, the reason why God loves the “stuff” of the created order is because He made it all! As Genesis 1:31 tells us, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (ESV) God delights in the works of His hands, especially in human beings, His image-bearers. Sadly, mankind’s fall into sin and rebellion against God has brought death and decay and the curse into God’s good creation, thus marring the created order and bringing man under subjection to death and Divine judgment — a subjection that is only broken by Christ’s redemptive work. But even in this fallen world, God still loves the “stuff” He made!
“So what?” you may ask. Believe it or not, this assertion that “God loves stuff” is a fundamental, core truth of orthodox, biblical Christianity. The ancient gnostics (from the Greek word “gnosis,” which means “knowledge”) taught that the “stuff” of the physical creation (especially the human body) was evil, and only “spirit” and “mind” was good. But the biblical gospel and historic Christianity teach that the eternal Son of God took upon Himself a real human nature – soul and body – in order to live among real flesh-and-blood human beings just like you and me! Jesus of Nazareth, the very Son of God and second Person of the Holy Trinity with respect to His Deity, walked among us as a very real, physical, flesh-and-blood man. God took upon Himself the “stuff” that He made (i.e., a full, though sinless, human nature) in the Person of Jesus Christ! “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14, ESV; emphasis added). The Incarnate Lord Jesus experienced the physical realities of our daily existence. He “walked in our shoes” (or, in His case, our sandals). He experienced hunger and thirst. He got tired. He laughed. He wept. He perspired. He went to the bathroom. He had to eat and drink. He had to sleep. He had to bathe. He had to dress. He required shelter to protect Him from the elements. He experienced both pleasure and pain. His greatest pain was a tremendously physical experience — undergoing an indescribably brutal, agonizing death by means of the skillfully refined torture of Roman crucifixion. And on the third day He rose again in glory with the same physical body that had been crucified (contrary to all gnosticizing attempts by heretics to spiritualize Christ’s resurrection as if it were something that happened subjectively within the hearts of the disciples rather than something which happened objectively to the body of Jesus). Nothing more powerfully illustrates the truth that “God loves stuff” than the Incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of our Divine Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Against all gnostics (and gnostically-inclined Christians), the Apostles’ creed which we confess declares (in agreement with Holy Scripture) that our Incarnate Lord was “conceived…born…crucified, died…was buried…rose again…ascended…” Against all gnostic devaluing of the human body, in the creed we confess “I believe in…the resurrection of the body” (emphasis added), not merely in the salvation of the soul (though we believe in that as well!). Against all gnostic hyper-mysticism and Spirit-obsessed revivalism, Scripture teaches that our extraordinary God usually chooses to employ rather ordinary “stuff” to assure us believers of His presence and to touch us with His grace (“stuff” like the written words of the Bible, the spoken words of the preacher, the waters of Holy Baptism, and the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper). Let us be thankful that “God loves stuff” and chooses to use the stuff of His creation to bless us! And let us also be diligent in using the “stuff” that our Lord has promised to employ in communicating His presence to us (i.e, the means of grace), receiving His gracious promises communicated in those means with hearts of faith in our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.