When we watch the news on television, read the newspapers or see what’s being covered on social media, we see many things of beauty and joy and we can be truly thankful for every-day blessings, both large and small. However, it’s very difficult not to see some of the major catastrophes going on around the world, some of which are carried out in the name of religion.
We have many natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, famine, fires, etc. which several devotees attribute to global warming but we also have numerous man-made events such as wars, terrorism, poverty, religious persecution and crime. We acknowledge that, as Christians, we’re only ‘passing through’ on this Earth – hopefully on our way to Heaven!
It is our responsibility to look after the Earth for future generations, honouring the Lord’s desire for us to care for and cherish our environment. If God was looking down on the Earth, Graham, what do you think He would make of what he sees?
Rev Graham replies:
In thinking about your question, Carol, I have been transported back to when I was studying for my Government and Politics A-level quite a few years ago!! As a study group we visited the House of Parliament that includes the Commons and the Lords.
It was inspiring to see where many historical debates had taken place, where important laws of the land had been passed. Where Kings and Queens, Lords and Ladies and many Members of Parliament in the Commons sat.
During such important times planet Earth has continued to spin and be a place of shelter and provision during seasons of peace, trouble, plenty and famine.
A difference of Opinion
Picture yourself in the House of Lords with a Lord and a Bishop entering into debate about the origins of the Earth. Who is responsible for its care? Its use and abuse? Is there a hope for the future? Are there any areas of common ground?
On one side of the chamber the Lord represents an agnostic and humanistic view of the Earth that hasn’t and doesn’t require any help from a divine creator! The world has been in existence for millions of years and, in its own way, continues to exist and thrive in spite of being polluted by the lack of human care. Overall there is a sense of despair and a lack of hope, especially for the next generations to come.
On the opposite side of the House the Bishop speaks on behalf of God Almighty who has made Heaven and Earth. He has a book in his hand that offers a history and guidelines for its inhabitants to live by. The Bishop represents a sense of repentance and confession for all the neglect and abuse the Earth has endured. There is affirmation that God is in control of the present, as he has been in the past, and there is a plan for a new Earth and Heaven that will restore everything back to God’s perfection and beauty.
The House has become full of ordinary people, just like you and I, intrigued to hear the two debating about the care for the planet and who may best offer solutions to world-wide problems. In an intellectual and theological sense, we are often not sure what to believe. Science says that we need to have proof. Theology calls us to have faith and belief in One we are not able to see. Somehow we all agree that there is a force that creates and sustains the world and all humankind.
- From the book, which is the Bible, the Bishop makes reference to our Origins and quotes John1:3 “through him (the Word/God) all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” The Psalmist declares “the Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” Psalm 24:1
- It is easy to put a blame on a force or individuals as being the cause for all the ills in society so who is responsible? In Genesis 2:15 the Lord instructs Adam to work and care for the land and that guidance holds true for everyone today.
- If we are busy living our ordinary lives then the world can be easily used and abused. In Numbers 35:33 the Lord gives clear instruction to his people: do not “pollute the land in which you live.”
- In Isaiah 24:4-6 we read that the Earth is mourning and withering away. It lies polluted by the inhabitants who have transgressed God’s laws which has brought a curse upon the Earth and its tenants.
For the Christian, in spite of whatever is going on within the world, there resides a future hope of “a new Heaven and a new Earth.” (Revelation 21:1) There is a fundamental belief that a creator God has made, sustains and will renew the present Earth and a new one to come.
This compares to the view that some cosmic force has formed the universe and has left it to its own devices with limited control and no hope for a long term future for the generations to come. Another view, which I think is pertinent at this point, is that we should not minimise the efforts of human activity that seeks to speed up all hopes of an earthly repair so as to avoid further disasters.
For a long time I have been of the opinion that, when people of faith do not take seriously their responsibilities to care for the Earth, then the Lord will use other people, even without faith, to complete His purposes. We are all very grateful for those who sacrificially protest at the abuses of ‘Mother Earth’ and inspire us to review how nature and the environment should be properly cared for.
All debates can become very quickly polarized and we dismiss the other person’s point of view very easily. Equally, it is important to hold on to that which we believe in and live by. There are areas of agreement that unites different views and we should all look to work for them, for in reality we only live on this beautiful planet for a short period of time and should appreciate and enjoy it to the full.
In Parliament, after debating about a particular Bill/Law to be passed, a vote is taken. Government Whips may lay down a ‘three line whip’ which means that an MP has to vote for their own party position. There are other occasions when the issues discussed represent certain moral and personal concerns and members are given ‘a free vote of conscience’ which means their vote might be contrary to the party they represent.
So, Carol, in this current period of time, I think God is fully aware of our selfish inclinations to misuse all the resources of the Earth. However, I think on a global scale we are more aware of environmental issues that adversely affect the planet and God would be pleased with such an effort.
There are differences in our debates about origins, responsibilities, use and abuse and future thinking about the world. May we exercise that privilege of having a free vote on world issues and work towards a common goal and appreciation of the amazing planet we live in and want to enjoy and preserve for the younger generations to come.
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