The Object Lesson – Playing with Shadows
Shadows are fascinating things. In one sense, they are images or replications of the world around them. A tree casts a tree shaped shadow while a car casts a car shaped shadow. On the other hand, shadows are constantly changing. As the sun moves across the sky, the shadows shift along the ground becoming longer or shorter and changing their position along the ground in response to the movement of the sun. Shadows are completely dependent upon their surrounding circumstances.
You can replicate this image by using a white screen (or a white king size sheet), a distinctly shaped object (I used a decorative tree), and a halogen spot light. By placing the tree in front of the white scrim and shining the light directly at it, you can create a large shadow. Next, as you explain the ever-changing nature of shadows, you can move your spotlight around. As the light moves, the shadow will change.
The Bible Connection – An Unchanging God
In James 1:17, the Bible tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James writes this passage as a conclusion to a lengthy section on trials, temptations, and the faithfulness of God. As trials come and go, we can depend on the consistency of God. He is the father of lights, not the shifting shadows.
A shadow changes and moves as the world around it shifts. We are like that. We are happy on good days and grumpy when things don’t go our way. We change as we get older and have kids. Our actions and attitudes are constantly reacting and responding to the circumstances in our life. We are ever-changing creatures: like the shadows shifting and moving as the world around us changes. But God is not. God’s nature is unchanging. He is always good. He is always powerful. He is always wise. We can always count on him no matter the situation.
This unchanging nature of God (called “immutability” in theological circles), is one of the most unique things about God. The oceans move with the tides. Mountains are worn down by erosion. Even the stars will eventually burn out. But God remains the same. We can always count on him.
Scriptures to Study and Use
James 1 isn’t the only scripture that speaks the unchanging nature of God. Here are some other passages you might use in your Bible study.
In the midst of this book of sorrow, Jeremiah tells us that God’s faithfulness and mercy haven’t changed. In fact, they are new every single day.
As the prophet calls the people to return to God, he reminds the people that God still has the same nature. He will still accept their repentance and show them mercy.
The writer of Hebrews encourages us to remember and follow the faithfulness of those who came before us because Jesus hasn’t changed. He still responds to us the same way he did then.