“God placed Human in the garden to reflect his image into the new world he was making— that is, to be the means, present and visible, whereby his own care of the garden and the animals would become a reality. And if Human was going to do this, Human was going to have to keep in tune with God.” – N.T. Wright.
Mankind was created with two basic purposes. The first was to exist in the presence of God—that is, every person was created to be in a sanctified relationship with God. We were made to enjoy, worship, and love God for eternity. The second was to care for and protect all of creation (Genesis 1:28-10). Sin has severed the proper relationship with God, as a result, all of creation suffers for our sin. “That doesn’t seem fair,” someone might say. What makes us believe that sin would ever be fair?
God warned His people, the Israelites, over and over again to repent and to quit living with one foot in the world and the other in His kingdom. The people, the priests, and the kings all decided that they—not God—were the best source for deciding what was right for them and the world around them. They practiced acts that were acceptable, and even thought to be ethical, at that time. They did not understand the importance of caring for the land the way God had told them to. The land was not to be exploited, it was to be nurtured by the people of God, the people who were to be its caretakers.
The actions of the people—perhaps with the best of intentions—caused an evil to fall upon them. An enemy came from the North and attacked God’s people. This enemy, “carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power” (2 Chronicles 36:20 NIV). The people’s sins, as might be expected, brought death and exile into their lives. But there was something else, perhaps even more heartbreaking, that took place. Scripture says:
“The land enjoyed its Sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah” (2 Chronicles 36:21 NIV).
The land that the people of God were entrusted to care for was only able to rest once it’s caretakers were removed. Imagine how sad it is when a child’s parent is so neglectful or abusive that the child actually finds peace when the parents are removed from their lives. How sad when that which we were called to care for, to nurture, and to protect out of a Christ like love, is better off without us.
Too often today, Christians have chosen to ignore their call to be the stewards of God’s creation. How are you affecting all of creation? The truth is that, for all of your intentions, if you are not in a right relationship with God, then you are not truly able to care for creation. Only when we trust God can we truly be caretakers of the world around us. That being said, if you are not caring for creation in a way that protects it, nurtures it, and shows a Christ-like love for it; then maybe you should check your relationship with God (it may be just on paper but not in your heart). The true follower of Christ will lead the effort to care for our world, not to exploit it.
Humans are not the problem in the world, the human heart is. God offers the gift of transforming the heart to make the individual whole so that he or she can reflect His life giving image back into creation. How are you reflecting the love of Christ back into every part of the world?
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!