catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 10 :: 2004.05.07 — 2004.05.20


For the beauty of the earth

There is something about spring that breaths new life, not only into God’s creation, but also into our lives. For myself, I enjoy a newfound wonder in the natural world. Spring also is the time when I am asked to teach to various sizes and types of groups about our responsibility to take care of the earth. It seems as if I’m not the only person who is reminded of the natural world we live in when the weather begins to warm.

I work in the development department of the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), a campus ministry organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’m part of a team responsible for raising a significant portion of money. I look forward to going in to work every day, I enjoy my co-workers and I feel passionate about how we in the CCO go about our mission of transforming college students to transform the world.

Over the past few years, I have been learning that there is something else God has created me to do. When I do not do it, I feel like a parched flower. God has knit me together in such a way that I practically self-destruct when I am not teaching about creation care on a somewhat regular basis.

I have had the privilege to speak with college fellowship groups, adult Sunday school classes, summer camp staff orientations, urban day camp students and during worship services. Most of those I teach come without much knowledge about our calling to lovingly steward God?s earth. Most of my talks are in introduction to the biblical basis behind an earth-careful way of life, in 45 minutes or less.

I address similar heresies (that God created the world for us) and challenges (what about our call to dominion?) in every group with whom I speak. Certain variables change from talk to talk, but I do find myself going back to a few basic points every single time.

God’s Role as Creator and Sustainer
My first point is that God is the creator of everything and that God intended for there to be diversity—humanly and non-humanly speaking. God cherishes everything he made, and has made a covenant with creation, sustains creation, and loves the cosmos so much as to literally die for it. God created everything for God’s glory and it belongs to the creator.

This may not sound difficult to swallow, but there are many who mistakenly believe that the world was created for us and belongs to us. For that reason, we read Colossians 1:16: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” It is also helpful to look at passages where God?s ownership of the earth is duly noted, such as Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the LORD’S and everything in it.”

Creation’s Call to Praise God
Secondly, we study texts that speak to Creation’s role in teaching us about the God who created. Creation tells us about God’s faithfulness, power and strength. Creation praises God simply by doing what God commanded it to do. Creation belongs to God.

Some friends of mine own a border collie named Spirit. Before being adopted by my friends, Anthony and Randi, Spirit was kept in a small confining crate. Now Spirit enjoys his life on the farm. One morning while having breakfast in their kitchen, my husband and I noticed something whiz past the window, but we didn’t think much of it. This happened multiple times. We finally realized that it was Spirit running laps around the house. He was doing what God created him to do: run and keep us in the house. This is the picture that comes to mind whenever I think of creation praising God.

Our Call to Serve God and Steward Creation
It is an honor to be created in the image of God, to be a part of God’s creation, and to be given the task of working and keeping God’s good earth. Genesis 2:15 states, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it (abad) and take care of it (shamar)” The Hebrew word abad is understood to mean “to cultivate,” while shamar means “to protect.” Shamar is the same word used in the Hebrew blessing, “May the LORD bless and keep (shamar) you.”

Jesus’ teachings are full of models of stewards, good and bad. In Revelation 11:18, we are taught that God will judge and destroy those who destroy the earth.

The legalism of Jesus’ day is alive and well today. It is easy for us to get caught up in the legalism behind earth-keeping, to look down on those who patronize McDonalds, to shun after-church coffee hour because of the use of non-biodegradable Styrofoam, or to think that God will love us more because we recycle. The truth is, God’s grace is scandalous and he would love us the same if we drove a Hummer or a Prius.

We need to remind ourselves that we aspire to live a life that demands less of the earth because it is a response of thankfulness to all we have been given by a very good God.

In The Lord of the Rings, one of the sons of the steward of Gondor is asked why his family’s line doesn’t just take over the rulership of Gondor since it is obvious the King will never return. The son is offended that someone would suggest something so dishonorable. In faith, the people of Gondor anticipate the return of the King; the son of the steward and family were assigned the role of stewards and would never turn their back on that responsibility.

What an apt comparison to our role here. The role of steward is one that should inspire joy, awe, and respect for the one who chose to allow us to be keepers of the earth. Like the sons of the steward, we eagerly await the return of the true Lord, the one King, the one who rules and whom we gladly serve.

When Jesus returns, may he be able to say to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” because of the way we lovingly protected and cared for his earth.

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