I cringe every time I hear an atheist dismiss our planet—and, by extension, our place on it—as a third-rate planet in a backwater galaxy. That’s a fancy way of saying our lives, our collective history, and our beautiful, endangered planet are simply a random mistake. It’s also implies that if there actually WERE an intelligent creator (ha ha), he could do much better on a second try, in a better location.
And to place MANKIND as the pinnacle of creation, the atheist snorts, is an even greater joke. How arrogant to put ourselves at the centre of the universe! We might be one step up from the apes, they say, but look what a mess we are.
We are a mess. Yet this is exactly where God has placed us.
The Hebrew writer jumps right into the fray:
It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:
What is man, that you are mindful of him, the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the angels, you crowned him with glory and honor, and put everything under his feet. (Heb. 2:5-8)
This transcendent passage is taken from Psalm 8, written by David, and it’s worth a look at the whole psalm to grasp the context. David, considering the night sky and how it reflects our Creator’s majesty, is caught up in praise. Imagine the stunning views young David had as a shepherd, contemplating a vast canopy of stars undimmed by manmade light. When we open our minds and hearts to sights like this—if we’re lucky enough to escape the city lights—the power and scope of God’s creation is enough to reduce us to the size and significance of an ant.
Yet David surveyed the heavens and came to a much different conclusion. However staggering the countless, distant galaxies are, God’s ultimate vision—to crown mankind with glory and honor, putting everything under his feet—is even more staggering. David sees everything in proper perspective: the universe was created for us (and for Jesus); WE are the pinnacle of his creation, not his mistaken afterthought.
And the earth is not a botch-up.
As he marvels, David recalls God’s words over creation:
You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim in the paths of the sea. (Psalm 8:6-8)
But the Hebrew writer takes this concept a ginormous step further. God’s children are not only stewards of the earth as we know it; he has also subjected the world to come—including angels—to his people’s ultimate rule. After all, we’re already reigning with Christ in the heavenly realms, as his beloved bride. You could say we’re like little Kate Middletons, elevated to royalty by marriage to the (future) king, no longer commoners or commonplace. Except our kingdom, and our rule, will be infinitely more complete and glorious.
I’m not one for wielding or wanting power over others, and I don’t think we’ll be busy making court judgements when we’re finally in heaven. (Although Paul does say we’ll be judging angels in 1 Cor. 6:3. Hopefully this business won’t take up much time…but we’ll be dwelling outside of time, so I guess it won’t matter!) Instead, I like to think the emphasis on our upcoming rulership has more to do with how God will elevate us—has already elevated us—far above the rest of all created beings, both earthly and heavenly.
This ultimate specialness, the place we hold in God’s heart and over his creation, should bring us great joy. We certainly aren’t worthy of it! Most of us can’t even recite (or explain) the periodic table, let alone grasp how God made the lowly amoeba. We could all pen an embarrassingly long list of personal mistakes, sins, weaknesses, character flaws, and fields of ridiculous incompetency. Though some intrepid souls venture into politics, the majority of us would feel overwhelmed at being mayor of a mid-sized city, let alone a country—or the universe! Yet God, seeing past our weakness and folly, and knowing what we CAN and WILL be in Christ, has made us universal big-shots: co-heirs with his Son, who rules and sustains the universe.
Knowing our unworthiness and realizing we’ll be universal big-shots shouldn’t make us proud; instead, we should be humbled and overwhelmed by the One who imparts greatness to the weak and lowly.
Years after his shepherding days were over, David had a similar moment of humbling and immense gratitude to God. Now he was king, eager to build a temple for his God. But instead of giving David the go-ahead, God sent a message through Nathan, reminding David of all the LORD done for him since his days of ‘following the flock’: cutting off his enemies, making him king of Israel, and promising to establish David’s throne forever. David’s response sends tingles up my spine:
Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You have looked on me as if I were the most exalted of men, O Lord God. — 1 Chron. 17: 16-17
So next time you’re feeling bad about yourself—embarrassed, disappointed, inadequate, insignificant, whatever—take a cue from David and this passage in Hebrews. If you love God and you’re one of his children, God is ever mindful of you. He has glorious, unimaginable joy in store for you. You’re a universal big-shot. And he’s already seated you in the heavenly realms (see Eph. 1:3-14).
We just can’t see it yet. But we can believe it.