Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord. Psalm 96:12
Where do you find joy in the natural world? As people of faith, what’s our role in ensuring future generations will also find joy in God’s creation?
In his book Every Good Thing, Dr. David Jones shares four reasons followers of Christ should care for this planet we call home. The one that resonated with me most was:
“We care for creation because it reveals God’s character.”
Dr. Jones goes on to write: “We should also be motivated to engage with and care for creation knowing that, in so doing, we can gain knowledge of God.”
Think again about where you find joy in nature. What does that place tell you about God?
Last year, on Earth Day, I had the joy of visiting the Emily Allen Wildflower Preserve here in Winston-Salem. I saw more kinds of trilliums than I knew existed! I learned that the seeds of red trillium have appendages called elaiosomes, which attract ants because they contain a lot of protein. (They’re even called “ant snacks”). The ants then carry the elaiosomes and help the trillium to spread.
What did this experience reveal to me about God?
- God is in all creatures, great and small.
- God created the world to be sustainable.
- God’s creation is interconnected.
- Every living thing has a purpose and matters to God.
In Colossians 1:15-16, the Apostle Paul writes:
15 Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 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.
Paul is telling us Christ was present at the creation and that God’s work in creation is Christ’s work. So not only does creation reveal God to us, but it was also made “through and for Christ.” So, if Jesus is part of creation, and we hurt creation, we hurt Jesus. If we harm the natural world, Christ suffers.
My experience with stewardship work is that environmental stewardship falls low on the list of priorities and is viewed as a chore, not a calling.
What would it be like if we instead saw caring for creation as something that allows us to participate with God in protecting and honoring the world God made?
What if we saw caring for creation as a way to get to know God?
What if we saw caring for creation, environmental stewardship, a commitment to conservancy and earth keeping, as centered in the love and embrace of Jesus Christ, the creator, sustainer, and reconciler of all things?
My hope is that as we all find joy in the natural world, we’ll find God there too, and live in ways that ensure future generations will have a planet full of beauty and wonder, one that shows them how amazing God is and how much God loves every bit of creation, including us.