God is Creator – Part Two
In discussing God as Creator, we should now mention that God’s Will for the Earth is central to the Lord’s Prayer, that model prayer provided by Jesus:
‘Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
The weight of the scriptural record weighs quite heavily in support of the enduring principle of the Sacredness of Creation. The prophets, for example, tell us that environmental destruction works against God’s purposes.
You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes.
7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared.
Indeed, in the New Testament book of Revelation, the author warns of the perils awaiting “those who destroy the earth.” Revelation 11:16-18.
In Isaiah 37, we read of the folly of the Assyrian King and how disrespect for the lands, forest and waters plays into his indictment and destruction. In response to a message received about the Assyrian King, King Hezekiah prays to the Lord and affirms: “you have made heaven and earth.” Hezekiah makes out his indictment against the Assyrian kings. “Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands…” Isaiah sends Hezekiah back a prophetic message furthering the indictment against the King of Assyria: “By your servants you have mocked the Lord, and you have said, “With my many chariots I have gone up the heights of the mountains, to the far recesses of Lebanon; I felled its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses; I came to its remotest height, its densest forest. I dug wells and drank waters, I dried up with the sole of my foot all the streams of Egypt.”
The prophecy in Isaiah 37 seems to condemn the Assyrians to urban decay:
‘Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should make fortified cities crash into heaps of ruins, while their inhabitants, shorn of strength, are dismayed and confounded; they have become like plants of the field and like tender grass, like grass on the housetops, blighted before it is grown.
While the meaning of language has no doubt migrated over time, the prophetic voice of Sacredness of Creation can also be heard from the author of Isaiah 24:5-6:
The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled, and few people are left.
One of the greatest environmental threats to the Sacredness of Creation is the human contribution to climate change beyond natural conditions. Man-made climate change works against the eternal covenant. Consider the voice of the psalmist in Psalm 104 regarding the eternal covenant:
You set the earth on its foundations,
so that it shall never be shaken.
You cover it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they flee;
at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys
to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.
The scriptures bring forth a concept of the stewardship of human dominion over the Earth. While some may interpret this as a right to environmental abuse, this seems a cavalier reading. Rather, it is a summons to great responsibility as co-creators and stewards of care for the earth.
Consider Genesis 1:26-30:
26Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”27So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
29God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Also consider Genesis 2:15-17.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’
My purpose here is not proof-texting but rather a survey of the scriptural voice across centuries for its consistency and clarity regarding the Sacredness of Creation and the imperative to care for the Earth.
Jack Wellman has commented: “God gave mankind a command and told him that he must tend or keep the garden. The Hebrew word for “tend” or some translations say “keep” it is “shamar” and it means more than just keep it neat and tidy. The Hebrew word means “to guard” or “to watch and protect.” The other Hebrew word in this verse that’s very important is the word “work” or as some translations more accurately say “to cultivate” and is from the Hebrew word “`abad” meaning “to serve” so Genesis 2:15 would better read as: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to serve it and to guard and protect it.”
This understanding of Sacredness of Creation ought to include a sense that human stewardship includes compassion towards animals in our care. This notion is expressed in Proverbs 12:10 as: “The righteous know the needs of their animals, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”
New Testament writers continue in the Hebrew tradition and give voice to the Sacredness of Creation. The author of Matthew cites Jesus teachings, for example, emphasizing a focus on the spiritual, not consumption and highlighting God’s care for the Earth.
‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust* consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust* consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
‘No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.*
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,* or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?* And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God* and his* righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Indeed, scriptures invite us into a creation centered ecology:
Praise. Of David.
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will bless you,
and praise your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall laud your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendour of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power,
The Lord is faithful in all his words,
and gracious in all his deeds.*
The Lord upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand,
satisfying the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is just in all his ways,
and kind in all his doings.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfils the desire of all who fear him;
he also hears their cry, and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and all flesh will bless his holy name for ever and ever.
Spiritual Practices for Today
As you breathe, choose a prayer word or phrase such as “Creator God” that puts you in relationship to God as creator.
How is God calling you to greater appreciation of Creation? What can you do today to be in awe of God’s creation?
Pray: Creator God, divine force that creates the elements, the waters, the earth and all stars, bless us with an appreciation and awe of your magnificent works. Instill wonder within us for your towering mountains, sprawling deserts, flowering valleys, flowing plains, freezing tundra and raging seas. You are the source of every river, the pattern of every flower, the essence of every breath. Forgive us when we abuse our stewardship of creation. Help us to live in harmony with the land, to preserve the purity of the waters, to respect the quality of the air, and to treasure the life in all earth’s creatures. Continue to create in us clean hearts for living in community with your sacred creation we pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Read again today Colossians 1:15-20: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in* him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”
What word or phrase caught your attention in this passage?
Read the passage again. How is this passage speaking to you today?
Download or open the Community of Christ app on your smartphone or visit www.cofchrist.org to read today’s Daily Bread and Prayer for Peace. After reading the Daily Bread, consider these questions:
What do you sense in the mystery of God’s boundless love?
In what ways can I understand the Spirit itself as the Spirit of livingness?
How do you feel invited to share God’s sacred purposes for the world?
Pray the Mission Prayer: God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me the courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.