This past summer was the hardest working summer in Charleston Bilingual Academy’s history. I am beyond grateful for all of the people who worked so diligently. And I am overwhelmed by the number of times that God lowered the mountains and raised the valleys to pave the path. This past week was exhilarating to see both campuses bustling with loving and learning. I have never seen students more excited about being together.
At elementary and middle school chapels, we shared the developments at our brand-new Holmes campus. And we talked about why we would work so hard to get the campus ready. We worked hard out of the love we have for our students and for the joy we get seeing them enjoy life and learning and then loving others.
At the beginning of each year, I also have the great joy of teaching about the Greatest Beginning—when God created. At chapel, I enjoy asking the students to close their eyes and imagine what it was like before creation. I would like to ask you to do that right now. Take a minute, close your eyes, and imagine.
What did you imagine? Most of us imagine empty darkness. But just like with the start of school, something did NOT come from nothing. So, what was going on before creation?
Before we go further, I have one more imagination challenge for you. What emotion do you imagine God usually feeling? We often picture God based on our own experiences and emotions. But apart from our imagination and feelings, what does the Bible tell us about God? Who was this God who existed for eternity past, before creation? In chapel, we talk about how we can know who God was before creation, by studying His creation and the Bible. (For a deeper read, I recommend reading this article by Mark Jones or this review of Randy Alcorn’s new book, Happiness.)
The Bible demonstrates that God is the happiest Being in the universe, who delights in blessing His creation. Subsequently, our deep desire for happiness–to live “happily ever after”—is derived from being created by the Happiest of Happy God. (Psalm 1 calls those who delight in the Lord “blessed.” Happiness is also blessedness.) He was Happy for eternity past. He is Happy. He will always be Happy. (I recommend reading Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves.)
What makes Him so eternally happy? I focus on these verses in the first two chapels: John 1, Acts 17:24-25, Colossians 1, Matthew 3:13-17 and John 17:24. The Triune God has always existed. Sure, before creation, physical eyes might just have seen darkness. But with spiritual eyes, we would see the glorious, joyful love between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are three distinct persons perfectly unified as One God Being—the Trinity (John 1). 1 John 4:16 tells us that His essence is love which is what perfectly unifies the three persons in one God. Acts 17 tells us God is SO FULL, that He lacks nothing. Colossians 1 tells us the Father is pleased to share every bit of His fullness with the Son. And John 17 gives us a glimpse that this fullness comes from the Father always loving and glorifying the Son. And reciprocally, we see that the Son perfectly obeys the Father, always loving and glorifying the Father. And in the baptism of Jesus, we see the Holy Spirit express the Father’s deep love for and pleasure in the Son (Matthew 3:17). It is this great joy in perfect love that led God to overflow creation. God didn’t create because he was bored and needed us to entertain Him. God didn’t create because He was lonely and needed us to accompany Him. God created out of overflow, not need—out of an overflow of love.
The Bible says God is love (1 John 4:8), but it’s not the love we usually know. Our love is often transactional: I give to get; “I like you for what you do for me. And when you stop doing for me, I stop liking you.” However, His love is completely self-denying, finding His joy in the joy of another.
Being so self-less, it completely makes sense that this abundant God would overflow a spectacular creation to share His happiness with His creatures. It would also make sense that Jesus would later come and lay down His life for rebellious humans. Why? Because that is what He has always done. He has always put the Father first, finding His joy in obeying His Father (Luke 22:42), and it was the Father’s good will for the Son to lay down His life in order to restore humans to His love and joy (Colossians 1, John 14:31)! And Romans 8:21 says He will even liberate all of creation from this current decay. Wow!
Our children are starting to ask questions about the Trinity. I hope you are also asking questions. There is mystery. First, we must recognize there is nothing else and no one else like God. We can’t simply describe Him like three states of matter (ice, water, vapor), nor that I am also a dad (to my kids) and a son (to my parents) and a husband to my wife. Probably the closest illustration would be to take three markers in your hand and at once draw one big triangle at the same time with all three markers—three persons, but one God. Scripture often clarifies God is One—joyfully and gloriously One! (Here is quick, simple video you can share with your children).
Many schools are teaching their children that they came from nothing and will return to nothing. And we wonder why kids are lost in purposelessness, engrossed with self-entertainment, and drowning in mental illness (see recent CDC statistics). It is a contagious joy for me to start our school year proclaiming to our students that they have been created by an eternally Happy God who wants to share His love with us both now and forever. We are not cosmic accidents. We are not purposeless. We are not lost or unloved. We are purposefully, beautifully, and wonderfully made as image bearers of the Great Loving Creator.
We can remember Jesus’s prayer for us in John 17:24-36: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world… I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
At the end of our chapel time, we ask the students the students look at each other and say, “your recipe is love.” We are made by love, to be filled with love, so that we would purposefully overflow love to our neighbors—bearing the image of our loving Maker.
About the Author
Based on his studies, experiences in missions, and passion for bridging cultures and sharing the love of God, Nate Johnson founded Charleston Bilingual Academy in 2014. CBA is a PreK-8th grade that makes disciples through a Christ-centered, Spanish and Mandarin Language Immersion School. Nate also serves on the ACSI Board of Directors.