A working analogy
As a preface, I had some engaging conversation on this subject last year with a Chinese friend. He was curious about Jesus and the teachings of the Christian faith; we had many conversations over Chinese cuisine. One of the first questions he ever asked was: How could a spiritual "God" create a material world of which he was not? Good question.
This morning, the image of a match came to mind. The fire does not know the match yet, but the match exists. The match is an image of God eternal, the living spiritual, self-sufficient Being. But the match can create a flame, sparking a new reality - i.e. an image of the material realm. Now, of course this analogy - as all analogies are prone to do - breaks down. The material world will not consume God as a flame will consume a match :) But it continues. God was not content to let the flame die out, as it will certainly do. So, God in his infinite wisdom and joy, set up a new pile of kindling, twigs, branches and large logs nearby. Upon the death and resurrection of the Incarnate God - Jesus Christ - a new age was begun. This can be imagined as the moment when the match reaches over and ignites the bonfire. The kindling sparks and crackles, a new flame has emerged while the smaller flame on the match still exists. This dual flame can be likened to this present age, in which brokenness still stains the world - the old flame still sizzles. But a new fire has commenced, resurrection is happening. As many have put it: the kingdom of God is "already but not yet." There will come a day when the old flame of the material world as we know it will die out, but a new fire is being kindled which will burn with a glorious blaze that will give greater warmth and light than ever could have been imagined under the luminescence of the old flame. A day is coming when the breath of God will be breathed out, extinguishing the old flame and simultaneously bringing oxygen to the new fire, causing it to burn bright and anew. Creation groans for that day, when all will be made right and God will make his dwelling with his people in a new creation!