The World … Worthy Cause or Waste of Time?

I have always loved getting lost in the creative process. I like to imagine this hobby of mine as a common interest I hold with my Abba Father. In the last few months though, I have focused on a specific creative outlet … I have become obsessed with upcycling. I take something someone thought of as garbage, or something that was recycled, and I transform it into something useful or possibly beautiful.

Each time I dive into a new creation. I’m reminded it is God who is the ultimate “upcycler.” We are ourselves an upcycled product, after all. At some point while wandering His newly designed planet, He took notice of the dust. He pondered how it could be better used … used again. He thought up something beautiful and then breathed life into it. What joy I get out of taking a lame attempt to mimic His wonderful process.

As much joy as it gives, it also saddens me at times. My soul increasingly becomes aware of the waste I contribute to the earth, by mishandling or ignorance. My mind has been tuned into the amount of recyclable items I throw away, either out of laziness or simple lack of education. The following is a reflection I wrote in regards to the culmination of these very things. It is something I wrote in an effort to speak into my own heart and my own shortcomings–not from a place of judgement.  

Grace and Peace

The World: A Worthy Cause or a Waste of Time?

 I was sitting in Caribou studying for my Environmental Science test.  I was reading about nuclear waste, refuse treatment plants, and landfills. My hand was resting gently around my perfectly chilled coffee cooler. This wasn’t a moment, like others I’ve experienced, when I was expecting the presence of God. The topic of common garbage dump contents seemed a little dark for the source of all light. My expectations, however, were wrong.

I stopped a moment to give my eyes a rest and sip from my cup. As I did, I noticed the skyline just outside my window and became utterly awestruck by the sight.  I began to give thanks to God for all His wondrous creation, and as I prayed, I began to feel Him stirring my heart.  Here I was, in the middle of thoughts on pollution and destruction, and I knew Christ had something to say. Jesus was grieved.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1)

Creator is the first word we are given in the Bible to describe God’s character. We read that His creations are good, very good.  We then learn He takes pleasure in this very good work of His. He creates. He calls it good. He enjoys it.  Then He turns it over to us to be cared for.

God’s good creation is crumbling, and as His children shouldn’t it be Christians leading the fight to protect God’s gift for us? We fight for other good things He has designed and gifted to us.  Marriage between a man and woman, for example, is a fight we see as worthy of our time, money, and effort. In fact, we have fought with such passion for God’s design of marriage that the term ‘anti-homosexual’ is now the first word used to describe Christians by 91% of all non-believers under the age of 29. (Kinnaman 2007) Personally, I would prefer to be called a tree-hugger.  Truthfully speaking, it’s easy for me to fight for marriage as God designed it, since that already fits my life. It’s fighting for the things that would require change in my own life that really seem hard.

This change could be letting our lawns go without watering them and not caring what the neighbors might think.  It could be committing to purchasing only second hand items or spending more to ensure proper manufacturing care was taken in its production. It means learning to recycle better, reuse more often, and upcycle things we thought were garbage. It means buying organic, even if the grocery bill goes up. It means speaking out, and standing behind, those who already fighting the fight.

As I left Caribou, I kept my plastic cup in hand while I walked through the doors.  It was the first time I had ever noticed, that despite the thousands of plastic cups that are distributed and discarded there each day, recycling wasn’t even an option.

Kinnaman, David. UnChristian. Ventura CA: The Barna Group, 2007. pg. 27

Earth … It’s Still Good!

This entire series of blog posts is indebted to Rob Bell, although I didn’t realize to  what extent until today.  I was thinking about a post on our calling to create (which will be coming in the next week) and remembered a quote, from a sermon a few years back, that has been etched in my heart ever since.  After searching, for quite some time, I thought I had found it.  I listened to the sermon series, a teaching about the Earth’s renewal, and found out my quote was nowhere to be found.  It wasn’t wasted time though.  I found something else.  I found the enthusiastic and hopeful look at the coming Earth 2.0 that I have been writing about.  I found my inspiration for this series.

Rob’s views, on what the new Earth may have in store and what our roles will be there, are breathtaking.  But believe me, you can’t pin this excitement down to just one sermon, because his vision is scattered throughout them all.  I wanted to attribute my desire to write about this topic to Rob, since after listening today I realized just how deeply embedded his hope in the new creation is set in my heart.  So, it was a different quote, one I heard today, that stirred me to write this post.  The quote was this …

“The new Earth is God’s way of saying, it’s still good!”

This place we live in was good when God created it in Genesis, it is still good today, and it will be good when God comes to renew it.  What God has created for us here is priceless, timeless, and everywhere we turn.  I think we lose site of this fact, because taking it for granted is just too easy.  I imagine that God’s creation will be an eternal place of enjoyment for us in the renewed Earth, and so as the theme of the series goes … that means it is worthy of our attention now.

What does God say about His ability to create?  What reaction does it arouse in Him?  There is no better place to look for this answer than in Job 38 …  “And the LORD speaks … “

It is in this chapter we get to glimpse, in amazement, into God’s description of His own creation.  Well, His description, along with a reminder of our finite ability to grasp it.  There is no way to summarize this chapter without losing it’s surprising and sometimes sarcastic tone … but some of my favorite parts are those reminders, posed as questions, of just how endless creation is and just how unaware of it we are.

The dumb ostrich who can run like the best of them, the mountain goats giving birth, the moving of the constellations, the depths of the ocean, the ends of the universe, the placement of the lightening and the winds, the power of the horse, and the protection over the lions.  It goes on for pages.

When I read these words I think I can take away from them three ideas: 1) God’s creation was good then and it is now, 2) If the Creator takes pleasure in creation, so should we and 3) Creation deserves our respect, our attention, and our care.

God uses colorful words to describe His creation, to remind us of details we so often miss, and to instill confidence that He takes joy in this creation … that it is still good!  The renewed Earth will be brighter, will be more colorful, and will be erased of the death that taints it now – but it will still be God’s good creation.  If we want to start living today, in order to prepare for renewal, we must take time to appreciate His creation.  We must take care of the Earth, because He has entrusted it to us.  We will not go live somewhere else … we will be here, forever.  It is our job to treat the world, the people in it, and all of creation as though we are seeing it through God’s eyes … as if it is still good!