The Fate of Africa (Part III): Finding Hope
Under the Covers (Vol. 1)

Creational Theology (III): Irrepressible Grace

Flower As Calvinists believe in irresistible grace, that drawing of the elect to God that cannot be stymied, so too we believe in irrepressible grace, that is, that evidence of God's providence and goodness that inevitably bubbles up to the surface of all created things.  As God draws us to himself, so too he slaps us in the face with who He is because it is indelibly imprinted on everything made, whether nature, the built environment, or human relationships.  It's right there in Romans 1:18-23: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen."  Irrepressibly seen, indeed.

Take trash cans, for example.  I'm sitting in a restaurant alone (no doubt, as I would not be thinking such airy thoughts if someone was with me), and I see a green trashcan outside the window, one of those trashcans made to fit into the shopping center environment.  It's a marriage of aesthetic form and function.  It's actually shapely, when it need not have been.  A simple can would have worked, but the design in this one is evident.  This one looks good and works well.  As I said, it need not have been that way, but it is.  Why? Because we care about beauty as well as function.  God does too, and He made us in His image, and thus we care about such things too.  It's unavoidable.  It flows out of who we are.  It's irrepressible (common) grace.

If I pull back a bit more from the trashcan, I see a whole retail shopping area that is full of considerations of aesthetic form and function, from the design of sidewalks to staircases and parking lots.  It has order to it, and beauty, and it need not have been.  Pull back again and I see a whole area of shops, apartments, streets, signs, and people, everywhere people.  I realize that the design of the entire area has been shaped by zoning and sign ordinances, and more that I do not even know about.  The point is that there is design everywhere because we bear the image of a Designer.  It need not have been.  It could have been random and haphazard, but it will not happen that way.  It simply does not.  Go to the poorest village in Africa and you'll find some organization, some desire for beauty, some semblance of design.  It's irrepressible -- grace.

Looking out my window again, there is a cafe with people, some alone like me but, more often, with another.  People have an inevitable desire for community, to be with someone else.  Even though I may choose to be alone today, so I can think, so I can carry on an internal conversation without distraction, more often than not I choose not to be alone.  I want to be with another.  Once again, we desire another because God existed in all eternity as a community -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It's irrepressible grace.

When we're traveling with our children we sometimes play a game.  We challenge each other to have a "God sighting."  We're saying "Look for His imprint."  Now I can't get a moments peace, can't even sit in a restaurant and be alone.  He's all around me.  Irrepressible grace.  Thank God for it.  Thank God for what William Cowper called a "capacious reservoir of means," God's creation, a world brimming with grace.