Cultivate and Care

Apollo 11 Earth_croppedGod created everything that is. The universe; the Milky Way and all other galaxies; the Sun and all other stars; the Solar System and all other solar systems; the Moon and all other moons; the Earth and all other planets, etc. He created all life and all the ecosystems to sustain that life then He created Humankind to take care of all he created on planet Earth. With stewardship of His creation in place he declared all His creation on planet Earth as good. 

Genesis 2:15 is His mandate for humankind, His crowning creation. Here humankind is entrusted with the cultivation and care of the world He created as our home.

The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it

My struggle to take this mandate seriously has been aided by a few key insights that I want to briefly share with you.  I now believe that the purpose for which humankind was created was to be caretakers of God’s creation.

  • Creation

Our call to be responsible stewards of the environment is rooted in the biblical account of creation in which the earth was entrusted to our care. Humankind is created to cultivate and care for God’s creation.

  • Solidarity

The challenge of protecting the environment requires that the Church look beyond national, cultural, and other human boundaries to work for the common good of all. Citizens of the kingdom of God standing in solidarity can overcome any nation, any culture and any other boundaries which keep us from obeying our mandate.

  • Stewardship

Care for creation is fundamentally an act of stewardship. As faithful stewards we should receive the gift of creation gratefully, nurture it responsibly, share it justly and charitably, and return it to God abundantly.  As faithful stewards  we should love all of God’s vast creation, recognize God, the Creator, as He reveals Himself through His creation and nurture our environment to the glory of God..

  • Respect

The way we treat the environment is often mirrored in the way we treat one another. In other words the respect we show to God’s creation is reflected in the respect we have for one another. Disrespect (abuse) of the environment disproportionally impacts the poor, but impacts all of us as we are all dependent on the earth for our physical existence just as we are all dependent on God for our spiritual existence. Showing respect for this planet God has entrusted to us is just another way for us to respect one another since care for our environment is one way to see that all have their basic needs met.

Questions to ponder

  1. If we have a mandate to cultivate and care for God’s creation and we instead abuse it carelessly what does that say about our respect for God?
  2. If God made us stewards of His creation when he returns will he call us good and faithful stewards?
  3. If the Church united in solidarity against any political boundary or corporate power allowing hunger, disease and pain to flourish when its remedy already exists in God’s creation what impact would that have on how the world views the Church?
  4. Do we truly love God if we hate one another and His creation itself?
  5. Do we truly respect God if we disrespect one another and His creation itself? 

Grace and Race: a Good Friday Reflection

“Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 28b – 31

Easter is one more occasion for us to hear the message of love again. But what does “love” mean in the context of a racist society? To experience what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself” requires leaving your comfort zone to engage with people from diverse backgrounds. Every person we meet has life experiences that serve as a basis for his or her values and attitudes toward life.

For me, as a Christian, loving my neighbor means being in healthy relationships with others. A healthy relationship does not require agreeing on everything – it does require striving to understand people from diverse backgrounds and experiences – and we cannot do that without serious, intentional communication.

The United States Attorney General Eric Holder said,

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”

My good friend Jim Street wrote:

On Easter Sunday, let us note that we gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus during what is still one of the most racially, culturally and socially segregated hours in American society.

Let us rightly discern the Lord’s body and let us ask ourselves how it is that this is the case. Let us pray for eyes to see the seemingly impenetrable wall that divides and keeps separate and the power of powers and principalities that captivate, manipulate and deceive for their own sakes rather than for the sake of humanity community.

Let us contemplate our racially, ethnically, socially, and economically polarized land and let us turn our eyes to our racially, ethnically, socially and economically polarized hearts.

And then, let us turn yet again to the great Good (Friday) News that we have only half-heartedly received:

“His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” (Ephesians 2: 15b-16)

Are grace and race related? Apparently Paul thought so. How can I love you, if I do not know you? Grace and Race should provide safe spaces and opportunities for dialogue for “we, average Americans” who want to obey the commandment to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Will we take those opportunities?

That is the question I ponder for myself on this Good Friday.