Updated: Jun 27
This is an understandable question for anyone exploring Jesus and His way of life. In this post, I simply want to lay out the space one has, including the boundaries, on this topic. But for any issue, the way of Jesus is a calling to live in the world as it is, in other words, to live in accordance with the truth.
Does Jesus invite us to a life of living against what is true? The answer is certainly not! Throughout the record of what Jesus said and did there is a consistent calling to live according to the truth. Jesus even identified Himself with the truth (John 14:6).
So, a follow up question might be, "Isn't evolution true?" Before I offer some thoughts to consider, let us look more closely at what the word "evolution" refers to. Evolution has been used to refer to something as small as bacteria becoming to resistant to anti-biotics and as large as the complete and total explanation of how the universe began, developed and living things came to be on the Earth.
There are followers of Jesus who accept the large explanation and find it compatible with Jesus and His teachings. There are some followers who do not accept this large explanation, but accept evolution on a much smaller scale. The word "adaptation" is often used to refer to evolution occurring on a smaller scale, like changes within species.
So, for anyone considering Jesus and His way of life, there is a lot of room here. Here are some boundaries for how far one can use evolution as an explanation. First, evolution cannot imply that God does not exist. Jesus referred to himself and demonstrated that he is the Son of God. This does not make sense if God does not exist. This means one cannot be a follower and extend the larger meaning of evolution to discount God's existence.
Second, evolution cannot mean that God is not the Creator. As Creator, God is the starting point and the sole foundation for the existence of everything that has come into existence. This was Jesus' view, which agrees with the Old Testament's view. Jesus was involved in creating (Colossians 1:16). So, a follower of Jesus would be in contradiction to Jesus if one held this claim. Evolution may be the mechanism God used to bring about life and diversity, but that is as far as one can go.
Third, one's understanding of evolution cannot imply that God and Jesus are not present and active within His creation. Jesus referred to God as His Heavenly Father who looks after the birds and feeds them. More importantly, God looks after His children and provides for them what they need because His children are of more value than the birds. This implication would contradict one of the main reasons why Jesus came: for God so loved the world that He sent Jesus (John 3:16).
Furthermore, the core of following Jesus is being in relationship with Him in the here and now on a daily, moment by moment basis. This would not make any sense if evolution implies that Jesus is not present and active right now.
In conclusion, I have tried to sketch briefly the wide space available in considering evolution and following Jesus as well as the clear boundaries. Unfortunately, and honestly, not all followers of Jesus disagree graciously on this topic, but neither do evolutionists.
Let me leave you with a question or two to consider. Where do you think you land on evolution, small, large, or somewhere in between? What do you think about the boundaries that following Jesus sets? Are they hindrances to you? Why or why not?