I want to start by telling you a story. It’s a story that began before time itself. It’s a story of the beginning of everything. The story begins when God chooses to speak. He speaks into the dark nothingness and creates the universe. He creates the sun and moon and stars. God creates water, land, plants and animals. He forms the majestic Atlantic coastline and the rolling Cape Breton Highlands. He carves the beautiful Saint John river and plants the towering Acadian forests. He raises fiddleheads and lady slippers. He fills the ocean with whales, the marshes with frogs, and the grasslands with foxes. God creates the entire natural world and He calls it “good”.
Then, to finish it off, God creates humanity. He forms mankind and places them in the beauty of a garden filled with diverse animals, luxurious fruit-bearing trees, and bountiful rivers. God looks at everything, the harmony between all pieces of creation, and declares that it is very good. As the final stage in God’s initial creative project, God gives humanity a special role. God says “let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26). As image-bearers of God, humans have the same creative and nurturing characteristics as God. God immediately puts these traits to use by placing humans in the garden to “work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).
This is our origin story. We were created by a loving God who entrusts us to lovingly care for the world that He has created. That is who we are and that is what we were made to do. The only question is, why aren’t we doing it?
If the God-given purpose of humanity is to work with and care for the plants, animals and people of creation, then why are we so disconnected from those plants, animals and people? Perhaps you will say that it’s because sin entered the world and broke God’s original plan and purpose for humanity. While that’s true, that’s also not where the story ends. Scripture continually affirms the goodness of creation (Psalm 19:1-4, 24:1, Isaiah 55:12, Romans 1:20) and urges us to follow its example in worshipping God (Psalm 96:11-12, Job 12:7-10, Luke 19:40). Clearly creation has a lot to teach us about who God is and who we are. For this reason alone, we should rethink our attitude toward the natural world.
But there’s more. We can consider our original calling in light of Christ. As Paul puts it, “sin entered the world through one man” as did “life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:12-18). Jesus makes it possible for us to live fully again (John 10:10). God “reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). That ministry includes reconciliation with all of creation, human and nonhuman. In Christ, we are restored to our original purpose of working with and taking care of the plants, animals, waterways and ecosystems of the world.
Our purpose has been clear from the beginning and although it has been neglected at times, that purpose has not changed. God created the world and called good. He created humanity and called us to take care to maintain that goodness. So, I return to my original question, why aren’t we doing it? Why aren’t we living in a way that promotes the wellbeing of all creation?
The decisions we make in every area of our lives illustrate our level of commitment to caring for creation.
In our purchases (think about the companies you support, where your food comes from, how quickly your purchases and their packaging will end up in the landfill).
In our transportation (are you able to carpool, bike, walk or take public transit?).
In our lifestyles (think about your energy and water consumption, consider using “green” devices such as thermostats, consider growing your own food or buying from local farm markets).
In our policies and politics (consider adopting a sustainability plan for your home, church and workplace, think about ways that you can let policymakers know that caring for the planet matters).
In our use and reuse (how can you reduce your household garbage, what single-use products can you replace with reusable products or simply do without).
There are so many ways that we can shift our choices, use our voices and influence to reflect our God-given purpose of caring for the world. So, I’m back to my question: why aren’t we doing it?
Will you join me in living a life that cares for all of creation?