Scripture is full of references to the created world; from Genesis 1 and the poetry of how God spoke the cosmos into being to Revelation and John’s vision of a new heaven and a new earth. Similarly God’s power over creation is seen in the parting of the sea for the Israelites’ safe passage to Jesus’ calming of the wind and waves when his disciples are afraid. Every time we recall these stories we remember God’s power, God’s creativity, and God’s sovereignty. Too often though, we forget our own power, creativity, and responsibility, especially when it comes to the whole of God’s creation.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. - Genesis 2:15
Humanity’s connection to the earth is found very early in the biblical narrative. We find God, after making the first human out of the soil and breathing life into them, placing the human in the midst of a garden, full of plants and animals. God gives responsibility to till the garden and keep it to the human and later has the human give a name to every creature God has created. This responsibility of care and authority over creation is given to humanity for the sake of the well being of the whole of creation. Unfortunately too often we (humanity) have mistaken care for domination and responsibility for ownership. We have forsaken our role as gardeners of God’s good world to pursue our own lusts, thinking we are masters of the earth.
This line of thought and action has not only meant the degradation of the environment and the shirking of our responsibility, but also the placement of ourselves above God as the ultimate rulers of the world. Failing our duties to care for creation not only harms the earth and all her creatures, but also fundamentally disrupts our relationship with God, by placing an idol in God’s place. And often that idol is ourselves.
The heavens are telling the glory of God. - Psalm 19:1a
All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, they sing praises to your name. - Psalm 66:4
Regardless of the faithfulness and righteousness of humanity God is not without praise. Scripture is full of imagery showing that all of creation praises God. It is not the heavens and the earth that have turned from God to idolatry, but humanity. God is God, we are not. God is praised by the wind blowing through the trees, the bird song, the waves of oceans and lakes, and so much more. The very existence of creation reminds us that God is. And the interconnectedness of humanity with the rest of creation reminds us that we are called to care for, not dominate and abuse God’s creation.
Let us learn to see creation care not just as something good to do, but as something fundamental to our faith. Let us remember that we are not separate from creation, but a part of it and that we are called to join the whole of creation in praise of God.