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Is God an Environmentalist?

In Christ and Culture, Rants, Worldview on July 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm

EnvironmentalismAt school, I occasionally I find an empty pop can in the garbage.  This is particularly distressing to me when there is a recycle bin right next to the garbage can.  This leads to an inevitable rant, albeit brief, on the importance of recycling.  Following one such outburst, that moved quickly from beverage containers to SUVs, a student asked, “Why recycle if God is going to destroy  this world and then make ‘all things new?'”

“Because he’s not,” I said.   

In Genesis 1, God declares creation to be “good” six times and on the final day, it’s “very good.”   The created goodness of the world is a consistent theme in the Bible– “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24). 

God creates this beautiful and wonderful creation.  He loves it.

 

This is why Satan deliberately sets out to ruin it.

 In Paradise Lost he says,

To do ought good never will be our task,

But ever to do ill our sole delight, [ 160 ]

As being the contrary to his high will

Whom we resist. (159-162)

Because God loves it, Satan delights in its destruction.

So let’s be clear–there is a force in the universe that loves the created world that wants to see it flourish, and another force bent on destroying it.   God is not going to destroy this world–to do that, he’d be joining the other team.

God’s love for creation as declared in the beginning, is consistent with what is presented in the end. 

In Revelation 21 John describes the vision given him by Jesus at the end of time.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’ (Revelation 21: 2-3)

The end, fits the beginning.  Because he loves this world, he is pleased to come live in it.  Heaven–God’s very presence–comes down.  He comes down to where we are, to be with us.  In His creation.  This was his intention for the Creation, and it how it will be in the end.  Or, more accurately, at the new beginning.

God says in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Darrel Johnson points out that God does not say, “Behold, I am making all new things,” but “all things new.”  God is not destroying the earth, but restoring it.

So what do we do in the mean time?  The task of humanity is to live in accordance with his purposes.  Notice again, Revelation 21:5.  It doesn’t say, I will make all things new.  It’s “I am making all things new.” 

How is God making all things new?  It began with Christ’s death and resurrection–he died, not just to redeem people, but all of creation.  Colosians 1:19-20 says, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Christ’s work continues through his people, the church, until he comes again.

There are two forces at work in the world–one that would destroy the creation and one that would see it flourish.

So, those who wish to live and work in accordance with God’s purposes will start by taking recycling very seriously. 

And that will be just the beginning. 

The Evening Sky

In Devotional, Worldview on July 1, 2013 at 3:11 am

Calvin-and-Hobbes-HD-night-sky 

Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes, once said, “If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they’d live a lot differently.”

It wasn’t that long ago when people did sit outside and look at the stars each night.  This is certainty one of the reasons why anyone who lived before Edison had an entirely different view of reality–both of themselves and the world around them–than we do.  

This passage from Psalm 8 is but one example.

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place, 
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them? 

When we look up at the night sky, we are seeing a tremendous distance through both time and space.

How far away is the farthest star? 

Here are a few of the answers.

  1. The Milky Way galaxy is about 120,000 light years in diameter.  We’re about 25,000 light years from the center.  So, the most distant stars in our galaxy are about 95,000 light years away. 
  2. The most distant known object has a redshift of just over 5.  That means that the light from this object started its journey toward us when the Universe was only  30% of its current age.  The exact age of the Universe is not known, but is probably roughly 12 billion years.  Thus, the light from this object left it when the Universe was a few billion years old.  Its distance is roughly 25 billion light years. 
  3. Existing observations suggest that the Universe may be infinite in spatial extent.  If so, then the farthest star would actually be infinitely far away!

There’s a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon in which Calvin is lecturing Hobbes on astronomical truth.  He explains, “That cloud of stars is our galaxy, The Milky Way. Our solar system is on the edge of it. . . .  We hurl through an incomprehensible darkness. In cosmic terms, we are subatomic particles in a grain of sand on an infinite beach.”  Then, after glancing at his watch he says, “I wonder what’s on TV.”

A regular submission to the night sky will certainly leave us impressed by our smallness.  In the modern world, we know it, but we no longer experience it.  Not with any regularity anyway.

Another Calvin and Hobbes cartoon has a similar theme.  Again, while looking at the night sky, Calvin says, “Just look at the stars! The universe just goes out forever and forever,” prompting Hobbes to say, “It kind of makes you wonder why man considers himself such a big screaming deal.”  Calvin explains, “That’s why we stay inside with our appliances.”

When you are in your family room, it’s not difficult to consider yourself to be a big screaming deal.  You are almost God-like in this context. 

Omnipotent in your ability to create light.

Omniscient in your access to the internet.

Omnipresent because you have Google Earth.

Which perspective is the more real?  The one from your family room, or the one from the campfire? 

One of my favourite quotes comes from Robertson Davies’ novel, The Fifth Business:  “You have made yourself in to a god, and the insufficiency of it has turned you into an atheist.”