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Caring For Creation Is A Christian Endeavor

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By Chris Martin:

I recently received a copy of The Story of Everything by Jared Wilson. Jared’s a gifted writer, and I hope I write as well as he does when I grow up.

I was reading through The Story of Everything the other day, and I came across this passage on creation care, and I found it to be helpful:

On the one hand, some people look at creation as the be-all and end-all, and they will be incredibly surprised on that day when creation gets better and they have to miss out. But if you follow nature’s trail to nature’s Maker and worship him alone, everything else will get thrown in with it. You can have those walks on the beach. You might even be able to walk across the oceans from continent to continent. This comes from believing not what you see right now, but from believing what you hear in the words in that map called the Bible.

On the other hand, some people care too little for creation. “This world is not my home,” they say, but they’ve mistaken the sinful way of the world’s systems and the spiritual darkness at work in creation with the created world itself. The created world is our home, and it will be our home. And just because God is going to change it, to fix it, doesn’t mean it’s our job to contribute to its degradation.

Therefore, there is a way to care about creation too much and there is a way to care about creation too little. With Christ’s gospel at the center of our lives and his restoration of the broken world in view, then, we can engage in respectful, diligent creation care that gives God glory.

If he declared the world good, why would we mistreat it? It is fallen, yes, but so are our neighbors, and God has commanded us to love them. One way we might love our neighbors, in fact, is by working to care for the world we all live in. This, in a sense, “makes the world a better place” but, more importantly, it casts a vision for the day when God actually makes the world a better place. With appropriate creation care—respecting our environments, reducing wastefulness and pollution, treating the animal world humanely, etc.—we depict God’s future plans for the earth.

Still, God has a plan for everything. Not just for mankind and creation, but for what we make of it all.

A Meaningful Beauty

It’s all about the balance. We must care for creation, tending it as God tasked us in the Garden, but we must not worship it either.

The world in which we live is not merely the stage upon which the drama of our lives is performed.

I must confess: I’m not really an “outdoorsy” guy, primarily because I hate bugs and all other sorts of creepy-crawlies. But on our recent trip to Niagara Falls I was reminded of the natural beauty of the world around it and how all of it is purposed to declare the magnificence and glory of God.

If natural wonders such as Niagara Falls do not exist to give glory to God, they simply exist as a coincidental creation of a chaotic world and they are beautiful for no other reason than they look pretty to the human eye.

The beauty of the world, like the beauty of my wife or your children, is a profound beauty that includes, yet goes beyond, aesthetics that are pleasing to the human eye.

As a result, as faithful followers of Jesus, we must look at the world around us not as a springboard into eternity, but as a peek into glory. We humans are the only part of creation which bear the image of God, but all of creation shows the imagination of God.

The world in which we live is not merely the stage upon which the drama of our lives is performed. Our environment is the work of the same divine mind that created us and knows the number of hairs on our heads.

Perhaps we should think of our world less as something to be consumed and more as something to be protected.

Posted by Chris Martin with

Bright Lights — How Foreign Missions Has Affected My Mission At Home

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By: Dustin Walker

After traveling to South Asia recently for the fourth time, I’ve come to accept and expect some things:

  1. Airplane meals are just glorified microwaveable meals… and I eat them regardless.
  2. Long flights make my feet swell.
  3. Seeing the gospel at work in another culture always affects my perspective at home.

Don’t worry I’m not going to spend time unpacking the first two things. They pretty much speak for themselves.

How have these things affected my perspective here at home? In the past, our short-term trips to South Asia, Peru, and Portland have shaped and influenced my understanding of cross-cultural ministry, social justice, and especially the area of discipleship.

For example, our journey toward starting D Groups started out of reflections from our initial trips to South Asia and understanding what 2 Timothy 2:2 means for our context.

[BTW, if you’d like to better understand the context of this latest trip and our partnership in South Asia in general then I’d encourage you to read this month’s mission newsletter. Sign up today so you can receive a monthly update and stay prayerfully engaged with what is happening in our mission partnerships.]

So what have I learned from this last trip that might apply to us here in Murfreesboro? I think it is best summarized this quote from missionary CT Studd: “The light that shines farthest shines brightest nearest home.”

And here’s what that should mean to you and me. As we see how the gospel is working through our church to reach the nations we should desire an even greater gospel work here in our own community.

Perhaps we should follow our July Fighter Verse (1 Cor. 11:1) and follow the example of our brothers and sisters in South Asia as they obediently take the gospel to hard places around them. Men and women have committed themselves to share about Jesus and inviting them to respond by following him. And people have!! God is so faithful to his word. He will build his church (Matthew 16:18)!

Here are ways that we can imitate our brothers and sisters in South Asia and become a brighter light here at home.

Pray and Prepare

City Church will you begin to pray and prepare to see where God has placed you to share the gospel? Your family, neighborhood, work environment, and a network of relationships are your field. Will you begin to pray that God would go before you as you commit to sharing the good news about Jesus to the people in your path?

Share the Gospel

The next step involves actually sharing the gospel, not just thinking about, praying about, or hoping to share the gospel. What I’m talking about is actually inviting people into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ with your words. You can share your story as well as Christ’s story. We even have a resource for you to learn more about how to do that. But these are ways not just to share facts but to invite people to follow Jesus.

Disciple

Discipleship involves a lot of things. Once people have responded to the gospel and followed Christ, we must help them to grow in their faith. This comes from reading scripture and prayer. It involves confession and repentance while remembering the gospel. It also consists of walking through suffering. Following Jesus means learning and imitating Christ in every area of our lives. And we do this together with the help of one another.

Gather Together and Form Healthy Churches

Healthy evangelism and discipleship also attach themselves to God’s people, the church. And as Christians, the church becomes our spiritual family. The church, though made up of imperfect sinners redeemed by God’s grace, is God’s “Plan A” for declaring his glory to the world (Eph. 3:10). And we must commit ourselves not just to a person (to Jesus) but also to a people (the church) to healthily grow in faith.

Send Out Men and Women to Continue This Gospel Task

Until Christ returns, we must seek to finish the task of repeating this process over and over in the joy and power of God’s Spirit. What a privilege! What an opportunity! Perhaps you go to another neighbor, classmate, city, or even country. But the task is not complete until Jesus returns.

I can tell you that we are seeing the light of the gospel shining far through our City Church mission partnerships. Here’s my question to you: Will you be a person from City Church to make the gospel shine brightly here in Murfreesboro?

   
           
   
Posted by Dustin Walker with

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