Sunday, August 08, 2010

Why be green? Ecology and the gospel II

A series in three parts
Part One: God the materialist
Part Two: The renewal of all things
Part Three: Three steps towards heaven on earth

Part Two: The renewal of all things
However, we are not simply one creature amongst creatures (though we are not less than that); humans are particularly blessed. Humanity was entrusted with dominion over other creatures (Genesis 1.28), but we have sadly abused this. It is not until Christ that we see the intended relationship exemplified and perfected (Psalm 8; Hebrews 2.5-9). In Jesus, we discover that true dominion consists in loving service, not selfish grasping; in humility, not hubris (Mark 10.35-45; Philippians 2.5-11).

And about Jesus we sing each Christmas, “Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb”. The incarnation of the Word demonstrates God’s commitment to his good but broken creation (John 1.1-14). Fully human, Jesus was “God-with-us”, and as such he sanctified and re-dignified bodily existence, entering into all the struggles and joys of creaturely life. His death broke the hold of destruction, ending the reign of the evil one, who is opposed to life (Hebrews 2.14-15). His resurrection was God’s triumphant “yes” to his creation, the first fruits of a liberation from bondage to decay for which we and all creation groan (Romans 8.18-23). Indeed, even the Spirit groans, and so we join in the Spirit’s yearning for God’s future. What God did to and for Jesus, he has promised to do for all in him, and for the entire created order. And so God’s promised future, far from rendering creation irrelevant or superfluous, will involve us receiving glorified bodies like Jesus’ (Romans 6.5; 1 Corinthians 15.20-23) and will include the renewal of all things (Matthew 19.28; Acts 3.21; Revelation 21.5). God is faithful to the creation he has made and is not going to discard or replace it, but will restore and transform it as he did to Jesus’ body and as he has promised to do for all in Christ.

Made from dust, we are bound to the earth and share its destiny. Clinging to the cross and the empty tomb grounds us in the here and now as we await Christ’s return. We are not to stare up into the heavens (Acts 1.11), but to set our vision on the neighbours whom God has invited us to love amidst the world that God has ordered and we are disordering.

But aren’t our hearts to be set on things above, where Christ is (Colossians 3.1-4)? Are we not to store up treasure in heaven (Luke 12.33)? Is not our inheritance kept in heaven (1 Peter 1.3-4)? Indeed are we not citizens of heaven (Philippians 3.20-21)? Yes, yes, yes and yes, but this is not because heaven is our final destination or because the physical world is irrelevant. Far from it! Our treasure, inheritance, citizenship and heart are in heaven because that is where Christ is, and from where he will return to bring resurrection and the renewal of all creation.