Summary: God has left us in charge of creation. Taken on a global scale, we are not being very good caretakers. It is more like we have moved in, and trashed God’s house.
An Holistic Salvation; or, “Where Are All The Christian Tree-Huggers?”
Col 1:15-22 July 24, 2005
It is nine days ago, 4:30 – am. I wake up, hearing the rain falling outside my window, and I remember where I am – out on a floating fishing lodge on the Pacific Ocean, the west side of Vancouver island. It sounds like my brother is still asleep on the other side of the room, but I know the generator is going to come on in just a moment, and it will be time to get up. Time to go fishing…
For the past four days I have been unavailable. I left my cell phone in Edmonton, knowing it wasn’t going to work on the ocean. The satellite phone on the lodge is for emergencies only. No TV. No newspapers. No internet. And, praise God, no email. The lodge is by no means rustic – very comfortable, excellent food and hospitality, and best of all, away. Away from the noise. Away from the city. Away from the lights, the 24hr convenience stores and corresponding culture of availability, and away from the routine and demands.
Some of the most techno-addicted among us might be thinking – “oh!! how did you ever survive?? Weren’t you bored???”
No – because when it was finally still, finally silent, finally out from underneath all the stuff of life, I rediscovered creation. When the artificial noise stops, we can hear the natural sounds – water gently lapping against the shore, bald eagles calling to one another, the wind rustling through the leaves. Absolutely beautiful.
To answer the question everyone asks, yes we did catch a little something on our fishing trip…
Spending time in the middle of God’s wild creation gets a pastor thinking: what is our Christian responsibility for our world?
Instead of the Science…
I am not going to take time to dive into the scientific discussion about the current state of our planet – global warming, pollution and over-population, melting ice caps, etc… – except to say this. Experts all agree that our actions as people are having a very large, very rapid impact on this planet. Our climate is changing, and our actions are very directly responsible. And so there are significant efforts underway to deal with this rapid change, for example the Kyoto Protocol, the recycling movement, and Canada’s “One Tonne Challenge”. The evidence is scientific and anecdotal – our fishing guide had been guiding and fishing for more than 30years, and at one point was telling us about a guy he guided 14 years ago who caught a 64lb chinook salmon; he ended the story by saying, “that’ll probably never happen again – the genetics are all gone now.” As Christians, what do we believe about creation and the place and role of humanity? The answer might surprise you…
Creation Needs Salvation Too …
To begin to answer, lets back all the way up to the theology we find in the garden of Eden. When sin enters the world through the disobedience of man, the result is three specific curses: one on the serpent, one on the woman, and one on creation. Listen to Gen 3:17-19: “17And to Adam (God) said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate the fruit I told you not to eat, I have placed a curse on the ground. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. 18It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. 19All your life you will sweat to produce food, until your dying day. Then you will return to the ground from which you came. For you were made from dust, and to the dust you will return."”
The result of sin was disaster – not just for humanity, but for all of creation.
This theme continues in the New Testament, and if you take the time to notice it, it is far more prevalent than you would initially expect. Most notably is Rom 8:18-23: “18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”