At the right is a photo of a fossil cast of Albertosaurus – a smaller version of the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex. Most of us are familiar with such fossils. They fill museums, are the subject of countless documentaries and textbooks, and have filled the hearts of people everywhere with awe and mystery. Fossils are like shadowy windows to the past. They reveal some facts, but others remain shrouded in mystery
The most popular theory holds that fossilization occurs when a living thing dies and is buried in sediment in the presence of running water. Molecule by molecule, the organic material is washed out of the carcass. The microscopic voids left behind are then filled with mineral material. In time all that is left is a rock which has the exact size, shape and contours of the original animal. Popular scientific opinion holds that the fossil record represents life that has existed throughout the last several billion years. Taking the Bible as our standard, we see the fossils as having been formed within the earth’s 6,000 year history. Since flood conditions present the most favourable environment for fossilization, many Bible-believing Christians posit the Genesis flood (and the post flood catastrophism that resulted from it) as the likely cause of most of the world’s fossils. For the Christian, the fossils are object lessons which teach several important truths.
First, because the fossils are the remains of organisms that have perished, the fossils are an ever-present reminder of God’s judgement upon sin. The Bible declares that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and that through one man sin entered the world and death by sin (Romans 5:12). The fossils are our reminder of the seriousness of sin.
Secondly, fossils are the remains of things once living. These creatures once reacted to their environments, ate, grew and reproduced. In their place now is nothing but inanimate rock. Even though the rock has the exact size shape and contours of the one living organism, it is nevertheless unable to react, eat, grow and reproduce. The lesson for us as Christians is subtle but important. Many individual Christians, indeed even great Christian organizations, have begun their walk with the Lord in vibrant fashion. They indeed felt both the Lord’s leading and the needs of those around them and reacted accordingly. In addition they continued to feed on the Lord’s word illuminated as it was by the Spirit of God and reproduced themselves as their witness yielded the fruit of Christian converts. Sadly, however, many such “living systems” begin fossilizing. That is, though they retain the outward appearance of Christianity – reading the Bible, going to church, singing worship songs, listening to the sermons – spiritually they barely have a pulse! Spiritual fossilization is complete when professing Christians stop feeling, stop listening, stop reacting, stop feeding on the word, stop growing and stop reproducing.
Our life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). The only way to prevent spiritual fossilization from occurring is to remain surrendered to the Lord; to allow Him to live His life in us (Galatians 2:20). By His Spirit He is able to give us a heart of flesh instead of hearts of stone (Ezekiel 11:19).
May God keep us alive to Him and loving toward each other. May God keep us from becoming spiritual fossils!