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I recently received a copy of The Story of Everything by Jared Wilson. Jared’s a gifted writer, and I hope I write as well as he does when I grow up.
I was reading through The Story of Everything the other day, and I came across this passage on creation care, and I found it to be helpful:
On the one hand, some people look at creation as the be-all and end-all, and they will be incredibly surprised on that day when creation gets better and they have to miss out. But if you follow nature’s trail to nature’s Maker and worship him alone, everything else will get thrown in with it. You can have those walks on the beach. You might even be able to walk across the oceans from continent to continent. This comes from believing not what you see right now, but from believing what you hear in the words in that map called the Bible.
On the other hand, some people care too little for creation. “This world is not my home,” they say, but they’ve mistaken the sinful way of the world’s systems and the spiritual darkness at work in creation with the created world itself. The created world is our home, and it will be our home. And just because God is going to change it, to fix it, doesn’t mean it’s our job to contribute to its degradation.
Therefore, there is a way to care about creation too much and there is a way to care about creation too little. With Christ’s gospel at the center of our lives and his restoration of the broken world in view, then, we can engage in respectful, diligent creation care that gives God glory.
If he declared the world good, why would we mistreat it? It is fallen, yes, but so are our neighbors, and God has commanded us to love them. One way we might love our neighbors, in fact, is by working to care for the world we all live in. This, in a sense, “makes the world a better place” but, more importantly, it casts a vision for the day when God actually makes the world a better place. With appropriate creation care—respecting our environments, reducing wastefulness and pollution, treating the animal world humanely, etc.—we depict God’s future plans for the earth.
Still, God has a plan for everything. Not just for mankind and creation, but for what we make of it all.
It’s all about the balance. We must care for creation, tending it as God tasked us in the Garden, but we must not worship it either.
The world in which we live is not merely the stage upon which the drama of our lives is performed.
I must confess: I’m not really an “outdoorsy” guy, primarily because I hate bugs and all other sorts of creepy-crawlies. But on our recent trip to Niagara Falls I was reminded of the natural beauty of the world around it and how all of it is purposed to declare the magnificence and glory of God.
If natural wonders such as Niagara Falls do not exist to give glory to God, they simply exist as a coincidental creation of a chaotic world and they are beautiful for no other reason than they look pretty to the human eye.
The beauty of the world, like the beauty of my wife or your children, is a profound beauty that includes, yet goes beyond, aesthetics that are pleasing to the human eye.
As a result, as faithful followers of Jesus, we must look at the world around us not as a springboard into eternity, but as a peek into glory. We humans are the only part of creation which bear the image of God, but all of creation shows the imagination of God.
The world in which we live is not merely the stage upon which the drama of our lives is performed. Our environment is the work of the same divine mind that created us and knows the number of hairs on our heads.
Perhaps we should think of our world less as something to be consumed and more as something to be protected.