The Heart of Creation Care

In cold weather, I find myself staying indoors more and getting somewhat philosophical. I find myself asking questions. Questions like, what were we made to do?

Look at birds. They were made to fly, and build homes, and forage for food, and create and care for families. Plants grow. They process sunlight and carbon dioxide into material that nourishes the rest of the world. Rivers collect water and speed it toward larger bodies. They smooth rocks and chart paths through mountains and valleys. They provide homes for hundreds of organisms and slack the thirst of thousands of others.

None of these pieces of creation’s puzzle has the self-conscious ability to question what it was made to do; it simply does it. And by fulfilling that call and playing that role, each element unwittingly contributes to the existence and flourishing of another. This is the mystery of biodiversity: each and every organism occupies a niche in the world, and by doing so, contributes to the world’s over all health and wholeness.

So what about us? What were we made to do in this epic patchwork of life and purpose? Well, Genesis 2:15 expresses God’s first instruction to us: to work and take care of the garden in which we were placed.

We have the most privileged position of all. We have been granted the quickness of conscious to do a multitude of things—from building homes to developing computer networks, from weaving  baskets to writing novels—we’ve been imbued with creativity beyond what we know what to do with. But rarely have we used that creativity and that keenness of mind to do what God first told us to do—to work, yes, but to also care for the natural world that supports us. Because while our responsibility has an exceptional nature to it, it also fills a niche. Just because we are caretakers doesn’t mean we aren’t also benefactors of the creation we’ve been told to steward. We rely on this globe, and we can choose to nourish or destroy it as well as ourselves.

But fear is a poor motivator. A far better one is a call to what I think we were truly created to do: love. Heart

I’ve been learning a lot about love recently. After all, love is the great well of mystery whose depths we are forever plumbing, so it makes sense that I’m still learning about and from it.

God created us so that he could love us, and so that we could love him, each other, and the world he gave us. But so often we try to do the right thing from a place other than love. We make a charitable donation because we feel guilty of our own privilege. Or we take care of someone because we feel indebted to them. Or, as I suggested above, we know that our own good and well-being depends upon the wellness of the earth, so we do our best to maintain its health.

But Paul says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). I may be burnished and bold, but I am hollow.

Our role in this world is to love. Love gives life. As Christians we know this better than anyone. It’s our calling, our niche, to share that love with the whole world. And just as that is the heart of missions and development work and pastoral ministry and plain old good neighborliness, it is also the heart of creation care.

Look what God’s love has done. Let us be more than just resounding gongs or clanging cymbals. Let us do everything we do—even and especially our creation care—out of love.
[This post was originally published at Deep Green Conversation in November 2008.]

Kendra Langdon Juskus is Managing Editor at Flourish.

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