The summer has arrived! In the last few weeks, I’ve been lighting up the barbeque, playing cricket in the back garden and introducing my 5-month old daughter to the delights of British summer.
All this outdoor activity has given me an opportunity to reflect on how we, as Christians, engage with God’s creation.
1. What does it mean to steward God’s creation?
Our relationship with creation is broken. This is not a modern phenomenon. In Genesis, God invites Adam to ‘work and tend’ the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:15). The Hebrew words here are ‘abad’ (to serve) and ‘shamar’ (to guard and protect). I’ve been challenged to ask of myself: do I serve, guard and protect the natural world, or am I seeking to exploit it for my own gains? We need to ask the same questions of our churches, and each other.
2. How do we live in a fallen world?
Immediately after Genesis 2:15 comes the first command God gives to Adam, not to eat of ‘the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ Perhaps this story is showing us how our ‘original sin’ is our failure to fulfil to serve, guard and protect our world? At All We Can, we come up against the ongoing brokenness of our world every day, recognising that poverty and inequality are not part of God’s desire for our world. So many of the amazing people we work with are trying to make a living, to feed their families, by farming the land. Often as a result of climate change, they are no longer able to produce enough to survive. This broken relationship between human beings and the creation we live in, which Genesis is trying to help us make sense of, is a fundamental issue for this generation to address.
3. How do we readdress God’s creation?
The sun is a source of fun and enjoyment for me and my family but, for All We Can’s work in Malawi, it is vital and life-giving. There, we are supporting rural farmers to protect their crops against the effects of climate change, by providing solar-powered irrigation systems. The energy of the sun is enabling their crops to grow all-year round and giving them a chance to build for the future. Around the world, we need to continue to seize the opportunities of new technology, of sustainable local solutions and the possibility that comes from our hope in God’s future for our planet. If we do, as we are seeing in Malawi, perhaps we can shine a light in the darkness.
4. How can we bring glory to God?
Right at the other end of the Bible, in Revelation 21, we read that the new Jerusalem envisaged by John ‘has no need of sun…for the glory of God is its light’. Until that time comes, whatever it may look like, we are each called to find ways to reflect God’s light into the darkness, to carry out small acts of love amongst the brokenness, to seek to heal our broken relationship with God’s creation. Perhaps, for you, that might involve spending more time outside this summer, reducing your carbon footprint, challenging companies and governments to be more environmentally responsible, researching about eco-friendly investing and supporting All We Can’s Harvest Appeal.