‘… give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:18
The theological and Biblical arguments for Creation Care are strong and are now being clearly communicated within the Evangelical Community. For example Evangelical Alliance NI recently published a booklet ‘Creation Care’.
The obvious reasons for the churches being concerned about Creation Care are God’s love for, and sustaining of, His handiwork, issues of justice for our neighbours across the world and caring about our legacy to future generations.
But it’s more than that, every one of us is involved. Peter tells us in the early verses of his first letter that we are ‘God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered…., who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood’. How do we live having been chosen and called to obedience? The Gospel isn’t just about making a decision about whether or not to have a relationship with God, it’s about relating to Him as LORD as well as Saviour.
We have to decide how we live, which includes how we use our time, how we use the income and resources God has blessed us with, however much or little. Both Jesus and Paul provide us with much guidance, which, whilst not directly addressing Creation Care, certainly implies that caring for our neighbours, even loving our enemies, takes us beyond the self-centred consumption that we see around us. We are rightly challenged to think about who has made what we buy and how they have been treated, but we also need to consider that everything we buy has been made using materials and energy provided by God. So we can’t escape being involved in Creation Care, or its destruction. We have an effect on, we change, God’s creation simply by spending our money, driving our cars, heating our homes, watching our TVs, spending time on our computers, laptops, smart phones, etc.
Let’s be even more plain-speaking. How would you feel (do you feel) if someone who says that they love you, trashes your property, for example, your home, your car, something that is precious to you? They behave as if what they’re damaging isn’t owned by anyone, let alone you, whom they claim to love. Might this not help us begin to grasp how God feels as He watches us misuse and abuse both the animate and inanimate world around us. ‘Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? … If you, then, … know how to give good gifts…’ (Matthew 7:9-11) Do we know how to receive good gifts? … to value what we’ve given? … to look after what we’ve been given?
We struggle to cope with what goes wrong in our lives, asking questions of God, and rightly so, but are we in danger of being like the elder brother, who didn’t appreciate and make use of all that he had whilst having it? Norman Hamilton, in the March 2017 edition of the Presbyterian Herald, commenting on the Assembly Elections in March, encouraged those of us who are reasonably well off not to expect our living standards to rise given that ‘godliness with contentment is great gain’ (1 Tim. 6:6). Can we learn to be content with less and thankful for more? Can we begin to see the whole earth as our responsibility to look after and not just the property, house, car, etc. that we own? Being thankful is one habit/practice we can develop to help us begin to learn to be content with all that we have already rather than always yearning for the next purchase.
Ethel White is a research scientist in agriculture.
Please note that the statements and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Contemporary Christianity.