Monday, March 28, 2011

Creation and the Children of God

You never know what will spark a hopefully meaningful thought. I was driving home from a consult with my college adviser when I turned on the radio and heard yet another round in the ongoing debate going on these days over the ways human beings treat the environment.

In this corner, weighing in with over four thousand years of western progress based on conservative Biblical interpretation, the Dominator. His opponent, weighing in with science that exposes climate change caused by five hundred years of industrialized pollution, the Conservator.

There is an often overlooked passage Bible passage that reads, "The creation (i.e. nature) waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed." (Romans 8:19) The Christian concept of salvation is not concerned with only human beings. God created all the universe, including the flora and (non-human) fauna on planet Earth. It is a Christian belief that the present world is not as God intended. It needs salvation and re-creation. For human beings, death will be no more. For the environment, there will be a day when all weather and geologic forces will cooperate for the ultimate good of all and to God's praise.

But what about the passage quoted above? Does this refer only to the moment when reality will be changed in the end? I am thinking that there is something essential that can happen here and now. Everyone agrees that creation/nature is in trouble. The debate is over how much can be laid at the feet of human beings. People are uniquely made in the Divine image, but those image-bearers are not to lord that fact over other living things. I'd like to think that it is also "children of God" that will bring about the renewal of nature. "Children of God" are those who have been empowered, authorized, and equipped to change things for the better. They are the representatives of the One who started it all in motion in the first place. When human beings take their cues from their Maker, creation will notice and respond.

I believe that these cues are best exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ, the Son (i.e. first child) of God. He restored what was broken and called life out of death. Miracles flowed from his hands as he demonstrated what he called The Kingdom (one of several ways of describing the new world).

Then he said an amazing thing: "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these." (John 14:12) What safer place for creation to be than in the hands of those who know the heart and mind of Christ?

Whether it is a commitment to recycle, use low energy bulbs, build efficient (and eventually economical) electric cars, or simply pick up after oneself -- let us see God as the motivator, the inspiration, and the promise of our success. His redemption of human beings is not the cause of our planet's problems, but rather the solution.

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