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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
in God

Understanding Rules: Why the Big Picture Matters

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By Debi Russell

Recently during a counseling session a client asked me a question about sexual purity. It was a good question and I was happy to talk through her thoughts and concerns. But before we got to the practical answer I asked her a question:

Do you think it’s a good rule to not allow children to run into roads to chase balls? Or what about not allowing four-year-olds to watch horror movies? 

Of course she said, "Yes," those were good rules. Then I asked her what the heart behind the rules was. As we talked about safety, both physical and emotional, I explained that often when people ask about sexual purity they are trying to get the specifics of a rule with no understanding of the heart behind it, which ends up making God’s standards seem arbitrary and burdensome. We had a great conversation about God’s design for sexual intimacy to be connected to a covenant relationship much like our soul intimacy is connected to a covenant with Him. How he wants to keep us emotionally safe in our intimate relationships and the heart behind limiting our sexual experiences to the boundary of marriage is for our good, much like many rules we give our children that limit their freedom or expression.

I grew up in the church. I knew God loved me and I knew He was wise and powerful, but I often thought He seemed arbitrary. As though the Bible was full of rules that made no sense and were simply there to test my loyalty to Him or prove I needed a Savior. And while God’s law certainly does expose my weakness and fickleness of heart when I continue to struggle and fail to keep it, God’s purpose in each rule or limitation is love. As our creator and good Father, God gives us commands and limits to both protect our hearts and minds, and also to protect the design he ordered us to operate from.

If I had the skill and genius to design and produce an awesome car or camera or piece of medical equipment, I as the creator, would be the expert on both how to care for the invention (wash it with a specific soap, don’t let it get too hot, etc) as well as how to use it so it doesn’t break and is most effective (drive it at this speed, make it from a certain metal or alloy, etc). God’s rules are never arbitrary even if they sometimes seem that way because we haven’t understood the bigger heart of protection or care He is operating from.

This is why remembering the gospel is so important—we can trust God’s heart of love toward us when we see His plan for redemption. In Jesus dying on the cross we see the depth of God’s love and how it motivates Him to act for our good at great cost to Himself. We also see the wisdom of His plan unfold in a way none of his followers understood in that moment—it looked like a pointless death, until he resurrected! In looking back at the cross and resurrection we see God is trustworthy and good.

Romans 8:32 says “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” In other words, if he allowed his son to die, how can we doubt his desire to give us anything else good we need? As we read the Bible and we learn rules or standards God has set for us, let’s filter them through the lens of love shown at the cross. And ask the question “What is the bigger heart behind this law?” 

Posted by Debi Russell with