What does God’s creation mean to you?
Last week, I was asked this great question following a reading of the first chapter in the book of Genesis. If you’re not familiar with the Bible, Genesis chapter one describes the creation of the world. Regardless of whether you believe that God, or some supreme being, created the world, everyone would acknowledge that man is not responsible for creating the world. With that in mind, I think all of us need to evaluate creation, or our place in it, with a healthy amount of respect.
As we’ve seen in recent weeks, creation is much more powerful than man. Hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and other natural events can utterly destroy the things people have built or acquired. And those are extreme examples! All you have to do is go out to the street and you’ll likely see grass or weeds growing up between the cracks in the pavement, pushing it apart and weakening it day by day. Creation shifts and changes despite man’s best efforts. Regardless of what any of us do, we really can’t control the natural world around us. I think God intended it to be that way. Although Genesis 1 includes God’s command to man to “fill the earth and subdue it,” this command probably wasn’t intended to mean that one will have cosmic control over the physical world.
With respect for the power of creation in mind, I think a sense of caring for the world comes forth. I grew up in a house that recycled and tried to conserve energy and water. My mom and dad are by no means environmentalists, but there were certain practical things we did to reduce waste. I was a boy scout from ages 12 to 16. During that time I gained a great appreciation for nature and its mechanics as well as the beauty that exists within it. I spent dozens if not hundreds of volunteer hours picking up trash. I learned how forests can be managed so that they can thrive and still be enjoyed by recreationalists. I witnessed the negative impact that abuse of natural resources had on ecosystems. As I grew into adulthood, I continued to experience more of its beauty and my desire to see it conserved only grew. My hope is that now others, especially my daughter learn to respect and care for creation as well.
I don’t think that care and respect for God’s creation implicitly means that you must drive a Subaru, have a compost bin out back, only wear clothes made from recycled water bottles, and go about your nightly routines by candlelight. However, I do think it means you have a sense of gratitude. I believe that our societal norms (in a western, developed nation) are gratitude-anemic. That’s not to say that there aren’t people who display gratitude, I just think it’s all-too-often absent. What would your life look like if you were truly grateful for God’s creation? How would that shape your behavior? For me, it means reducing my consumption, making decisions often based on their impact to creation, and sharing my appreciation for God’s handiwork with others. I don’t do it nearly as well as I could, but I’m getting there. Perhaps you are too.