I’ve never been a “SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT!!!!” sort of girl.
Not because I want to actively destroy our planet or because I am particularly opposed to saving it, but simply because I haven’t thought much about it.
I love spending time outdoors, love seeing and being in the beauty that God has given us, but not until recently has my mind made the connection between our earth being created by and loved by God, and my own responsibility to take care of our world.
I know. There are a lot of you who are rolling your eyes right now and thinking, “Wow. You are some kind of dense not to have understood that before now.”
Perhaps, though, there are at least one or two of you who are like me and have simply not thought about this idea of being stewards of God’s creation. These thoughts, then, are for you.
This idea first started bouncing around in my mind when I read N.T. Wright’s book, Surprised by Hope. One of the themes that Wright discusses is the concept that this world is going to be restored someday, is going to be made whole and perfect, and we are asked by God to begin now to work towards that restoration. He even suggests that we are part of God’s plan to perfect our world, that perhaps He will accomplish this restoration (at least partially) through humanity.
This is a staggering idea, especially in the implication that if we are not working to care for our world then we are delaying the restoration of creation.
My first reaction to this idea was that God would never entrust such an important task to such frail humans. Yet there is, however, that whole “go into the world and teach people to be My disciples” task that He gave us. Perhaps God is just crazy enough to put such big things into our little hands.
My next recent encounter with this idea of stewardship (I was starting to feel as though perhaps, just perhaps, God was giving me a little nudge) was when I read Richard T. Wright’s book, Biology Through the Eyes of Faith. (I was also starting to feel as though perhaps, just perhaps, I was reading too many books by authors with the last name of Wright.)
When I wrote an essay about the book, about how Christians should not fear what science can do to God, I was struck by something that I quoted from this book at the end:
Over the years, I have realized that even though it is necessary to look at these origins issues and problems, the more important problems are those that are facing us today as we try to learn how to take care of the creation and how best to use its gifts. (If God were to ask us a question about His Creation,) would He ask us what we thought about how He made the world, or would He ask us what we did with it?
What does God want us to do with this creation He has entrusted to us? I started searching Scripture and was surprised by what I found. Here are just a few:
God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. ~ Genesis 1.31
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it…So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. ~ Genesis 2.15, 20
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. ~ Romans 8.19-21
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare … But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth (emphasis mine), the home of righteousness. ~ II Peter 3.10, 13
As I searched the Word for wisdom, I was also reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It is the story of how her family spent one year eating only what they could obtain locally. The book gave me a myriad of ideas about how our family could begin paying attention, how we could be deliberate about how we use this creation that God called “very good”.
And so I’ve started exploring. Perhaps we will start loving our neighbors by purchasing as much as possible from farmers who live nearby, from businesses owned by local people. Perhaps we will start loving this world by eating meat and eggs from animals that have been well cared for and that have been fed foods they were created to eat, by recycling and reusing as much as possible.
I’m probably still not going to start marching in environmental protests or throwing paint on people who wear fur coats.
I will, however, begin to pray, to think, to be aware and deliberate about how our family can be responsible stewards of this very good earth that has been graciously loaned to us by God. I will try to understand how to make sacred these choices about food and how we live on this planet.
What do you think about these things? What does your family do to care for our world? Do you have any advice for our family as we begin to explore this: advice about using a co-op or a CSA, recycling, etc.?
What is it about the word “new” that makes us so excited?
New life, new try, new baby, new piano.
I’m not big on resolutions, but there’s something about the start of a new year that makes me hopeful.
I’m certainly ready for this year to be over. Along with this ongoing, hard thing, my dad had open-heart surgery and my husband lost his last two grandparents this year.
My eldest knows more vocabulary about death than any three year old should know.
I’m ready for new.
A new year. A new start. A new attempt.
Thinking about new makes me want to explore God’s idea of new. Will you explore with me?
The first idea that came to my mind was the new covenant.
I’ve always been struck by the ridiculousness of the idea that God would make any sort of a promise with us, that He would uphold His side of the covenant even when we fail to keep our own promise, but I’ve never explored the idea that it is a new covenant.
‘The time is coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers…because they broke my covenant…’ declares the LORD. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ ~ Jeremiah 31.31-33
I can already see that I will be jumping between the Old and New Testaments to explore this word.
So what is the new covenant that God makes with us, the covenant that is different from the one that we broke?
In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ ~ Luke 22.20
Jesus. That birth we just finished celebrating leads to the new covenant drenched in His blood.
Hebrews 8 and 9 talks through all of the fascinating details of the old covenant and how it foreshadows the new covenant. Towards the end, after explaining the system of sacrificing goats and bulls and using their blood to take away the sins of the people, the author of Hebrews says this:
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ…cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
I sit, sit awash in gratitude for this new covenant that cost so much. The new covenant leads my mind around to another use of the word “new”: in Christ, we are a new person, a new creation.
Back to the Old Testament. God promises in Ezekiel 36:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you, I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
The fulfillment of that promise?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ~ II Corinthians 5.17
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ~ Ephesians 4.22-24
Praise God!!! What mercy! What grace!
Again, I sit in gratitude, in silence, letting this beauty wash over me.
Because God was willing to make a new covenant with us when we broke the original one, because Christ was willing to spill His blood to seal this covenant, I am now a new creation in Christ, created to be like God!
And as I sit in gratitude, I can’t help but think of the new that is still ahead of us.
Isaiah prophecies this beautiful thing in Isaiah 65:
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind…I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years…my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands.
We are given a beautiful glimpse of the future fulfillment of all of this in Revelation 21:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’
It sounds as though God Himself gets excited about the word “new”.
Perhaps our own excitement over new things in this world is there for a reason, was placed deep inside of us by Him in Whose image we were created, was given to us to point us toward the most beautiful new thing of all.