Creation Care

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, October 24, 2018 0 comments

by David Odegard

“God is not nature, and nature is not God.” -Gregory Koukl

In Christianity, you do not respect nature, for nature is not a person; you respect the Creator and therefore you do not trash His creation. This is Koukl’s great summary of the relationship of human beings to the earth.

With creation care, we come full circle in our hierarchy of ethical concerns, because care for creation is woven by God into the very fabric of our nature. It is part of our identity as persons made in the image of God, which a careful reader will recognize as the first item in our hierarchy.

In the very first chapter of the Bible, God gives man a job to care for the creation. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

Nevertheless, the chapter does not end with us as workers, but as worshippers. God institutes the Sabbath day of rest for us to worship God. Worshiping God is primary. God is not creation; therefore, we do not worship it. We do not worship Gaia, mother Earth. God is not the sum of His creation. He is over it, outside of it, and yet enters into it by choice. He does not need it, but it depends upon Him every nanosecond for its continuation. Human beings have a job to do, but that is not our highest pursuit. We are worshipers, primarily. Always above our work and our duties is our relationship with God—that is the main thing (Psalm 27:4).

To be sure, our relationships toward God, fellow humans, and the creation itself have been fatefully marred by the Fall. The Fall made our work much more difficult, for example it caused pain in childbirth for women and sweat and weeds for men (Genesis 3:16-19). Therefore, our descent into rebellion has placed incredible strain also on the created order. Romans 8:20 states, “For the creation was subjected to frustration…”

Human beings have been scrambling for power, dominance, and control ever since that rebellion. The Bible contains a tragic and bloody history—though the truthful one. Creation itself has been co-opted in humanity’s gory gambit for power. Everything that fallen man has dominance over suffers as a result of the fall. Look around, don’t you see the evidence of that?

John Stott reminded Christians of care for the creation in his last book before departing from this life, The Radical Disciple. He shares these twin insights: 1, that the Bible firmly declares that the “earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1-2), while at the same time that 2, “The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind” (Psalm 115:16).

Stott says that “the earth belongs to God by creation and to us by delegation.” This is another way of saying that the earth belongs under the stewardship of mankind. Human beings do not own the earth; we are merely entrusted with its stewardship. This is not unlike the way a parent owns the home, but gives a room to the child. It is considered his or her room, but obviously he or she does not own it.

Christians believe that Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God and began a recreation of the world and all who live in it, which will be consummated at the final judgment and subsequent making of a new heaven and new earth.

This means that in Christ’s salvation of humankind, He will also remake the earth and its beings too. But it also means that part of our work in the spread of the Gospel and the Kingdom of Jesus is to cooperate with God in his remaking of all the aspects of creation as far as possible. If we can cure a disease, by all means, let’s cure it. If we can change societal structures to make them secure life, liberty, and property, then let’s enact those changes.

Constant reader, we have entered into a partnership with God in creation care; it is our job, but it is not our purpose. Our purpose is to worship God. But part of the way we worship God is to do our job well.

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