If you are anything but the ages of 30-40 years old you probably are thinking what on earth was that?
· That was the intro to Captain Planet and the Planeteers, ear;y 1990s an animated kids show focused on helping kids be concerned about the environment. I don’t remember it and you gotta wonder how much good it did in its new agey way but apparently it was memorable to a few.
Let’s go back further How about this…anybody remember this guy?
Image of The Crying Indian
Iron Eyes Cody – the "crying Indian"
· Public Service Announcement early 1970s Keep America Beautiful campaign
· The commercial had him at the side of the road with trash thrown at his feet
· As a tear falls ran down his cheek - "People start pollution; people can stop it."
· An aside – I don’t want to shatter a myth but Iron Eyes was Italian
Throughout the past 100+ years people have tried to call attention to the creation, the environment. John Muir, Henry David Thoreau were some of the earliest Americans environmentalists. More recently Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth.
But through all the books, movies, cartoon and commercials there is one glaring omission, one group of people who have been silent – followers of Jesus.
· You just don’t find the church all that worked up about what, in my mind, is clearly a huge worldwide issue… the creation is in decay and has been so for a long time due to the fall of mankind and our ongoing rebellion against the heart of God.
Americans still dump 16 tons of sewage into our waters–every minute of every day.
Water pollution causes approximately 14,000 deaths per day in developing countries.
Number of animal species that have gone extinct – 865
Number of animal species that are endangered – 5,700
Number of animal species that are critically endangered – 3,900
The planet has already lost 80 percent of its forest cover to deforestation.
Each year, 40 million acres of tropical rainforests–an area larger than the state of California–are destroyed through logging or burning.
Today farmable land is being lost at 30 to 35times the historical rate
Nearly one third of the world’s cropland has been abandoned in the past 40years because erosion has made it unproductive
I know this is a huge political issue… very few deny that something is happening around us - Wild extreme weather. But the debate centers on how much is caused by us. How much does man contribute to greenhouse effect by CO2 production.
· Here is what one prominent conservative politician said recently: “I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences,”
What all this adds up to is one big “broken place”… the creation is in decay!
· and ultimately the responsibility lies at our feet – the creation suffers due to the original and ongoing sinfulness and rebellion of mankind against God.
Over the last month we’ve seen just what our sin has done – how our rebelliionb has caused a lot of heartache and dismay:
Human beings are separated from God Icon
Vast systems of injustice rule our world Icon
People’s bodies, minds and spirits are broken Icon
Hatred has bred racism, genocide and war Icon
People are lonely and isolated from one another Icon
The Creation itself is in decay Icon
So as we wrap up this series…I return to my original musings…why is it that the church has largely been silent about this one?
· Is it because it doesn’t seem to affect us as intimately as the other 5?
· Do we sense the others are bigger issues?
· Or could it be that perhaps we don’t understand the heart of God on this one
Let’s try to get a grip on that! Beginning with this thought from Chris Wright:
To abuse, pollute or destroy the natural order is to trample on the goodness of God in creation, to devalue what God values, to mute God’s praise and to diminish God’s glory. Christopher Wright, The Mission of God (note – thankful for Wright’s book!)
Let’s break this down into truths and implications.
Truth: If the earth is God’s, it is not ours.
To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Deuteronomy 10:14
Everything under heaven belongs to me. Job 41:11
Implication: We do not own the creation even if our behavior tends to boast that we think we do.
God is the landlord and we are his tenants.
ILL – a house guest who consumes and abuses your possessions
Reminder: God holds us accountable to himself for how we treat his property.
Truth: The physical creation is intrinsically good.
· Intrinsically- by its very nature - it is a good thing. It is not good simply because humans are in it.
· The goodness of creation is chronologically and theologically prior to human beings.
· The earth has deep value to God whether we are around or not. It is not simply the box in which we play and live and exist.
1Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate-- bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart. The trees of the LORD are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the pine trees. The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys. The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. Then man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening. How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number-- living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time.
· note how all of creation is in deep relationship with God with only scant reference to mankind at all.
“God has interests in badgers and wild goats for their own sakes. He has interest in trees and mountains and rock cairns that simply serve non-human purposes” Walter Harrison
· A good creation can only be the work of a Good God. It reflects his character
Implication: He degrades the creation chips away at the passion and goodness of God.
Truth: Creation is a one of our best tutors on the personality of God
Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Job 12:7-9
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-14
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20
Implication: when we diminish the creation we throttle the worship and understanding of God.
Truth: God created this planet as the best place for us to relate to him and each other.
Review back on week one Tim helped us understand the concept of “good” = the best place for all things especially humanity.
· the care of creation does indeed affect each human being
o our health, our well being our relationships with others and God
Implication: Harm the creation and you harm all of us.
Truth: God wants his creation to be restored
"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create… The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain," says the LORD. From Isaiah 65
This picture is not simply one of the future but as God’s dream beginning to be realized in the present.
Implication: The creation is waiting for us to do something about it.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed...in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Romans 8:18-21
I guess this is the most poignant implication – as with each of the other broken places – It is time for us to step up. The care of creation is a vital part of our mission.
So, what do we do in response?
1. Care for creation but don’t worship it.
o Creation is sacred but not divine
…if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high. Job 31:26-28
2. Take your assigned role seriously.
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Genesis 1:28
· subdue = “Someone stronger, taking control of someone weaker in order to bring an ordering influence.”
· rule = exert authority as someone’s representative
· Bring order and representation to something that can’t do so on its own.
o Defend, preserve, guard, protect – in short be a steward
o Not: dominate, exploit, use, or abuse
To be unconcerned about the physical creation is to be either desperately ignorant or irresponsibly callous. Christopher Wright, The Mission of God
Let’s get practical:
· Pay attention to how much you consume and what you consume
o our vehicles and machinery
o Pay attention to how we eat…how much and what.
· Pay attention to how and how much you use energy and water.
· Pay attention to how we buy
o be careful how much we buy and…
o who we buy from - companies with ethically sound environmental policies
· Pay attention to how we dispose of things –
o recycle and reuse
o Indy – just 1 in 10 recycle – cost .20 cents per day
· Stand up and speak out
My hope is that we will be people that stand up as leaders in the fight against any destruction of the environment that comes from mankind’s misdirected priorities, wherever it occurs.
My hope is that Christians would be on the forefront of speaking out about all kinds of quality of life issues related to the creation. Things like zoning, public parks, mass transit, pedestrian accessibility to services, and water quality control. These all have a direct impact on people’s lives and they have a direct impact on the environment. Tim Ayers
And FYI – we may not be where we want to be yet but we have taken some steps and will be taking more here at Grace:
- We recycling
- We had an energy management system installed for about ¾ of the building to better regulate heating/AC
- Installed sensors for the bathroom lights so they don’t get left on all day
- We designed our whole building as multi-use for generations to come
- The precast concrete panels were a sustainable method for building enclosure with internal building insulation. They also were local manufacture with less transportation carbon footprint .
We all have to take our assigned role seriously…steward God’s good creation
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed….in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Romans 8:18-21
We started this mess. It’s time we clean it up.
· our sin, rebellion, greed, rage, selfishness that has broken the world, our relationships and our bodies….
It’s time for us to be a part of the repair and healing
· of humanities separation form God
· of the horrific systems of injustice – poverty, human trafficking and AIDS
· of broken bodies, minds and souls
· of hatred - racism, genocide and war
· of isolation and loneliness
It’s time for the sons and daughter of God to be revealed… to fulfill his mission…to repair the 6 broken places of the world.
To with determination move slowly and surely to a time when God once more looks over all of this world and says…at long last…I declare that once again…It is good.