After being in Leader for 2 ½ years, one thing I still marvel at is the interconnectedness between people and creation, it is one of the most important things I have learned during my time here. People know the land and they know the weather. Everything instinctual for those whose livelihoods are dependent on knowing and being connected to the land. It matters what happens on their land because a decision today will have lasting consequences.
On Thursday, the Pope released his latest encyclical, Laudato si' (On Care For Our Common Home) which focuses on climate change, its effect on the poor and the moral responsibility of the church to respond. There was some debate outside of the church whether the Pope should be speaking about scientific matters. The church should have a leading role in caring for creation as that is the commission God gave to His people from the beginning of creation (Gen. 1:28). This commission along with the unique relationship to God and the creative qualities bestowed upon humanity of freedom, knowledge, and will set humanity in a distinct position over and above the rest of the created order.
The document decries humanity’s abuse of power which has led to the neglect and destruction of creation. Pope Francis lays blame on an incorrect theology whereby there “was a Promethean vision of mastery over the world, which gave the impression that the protection of nature was something that only the faint-hearted cared about” (116). At best, we are guilty of neglecting care for the world and at worst we are guilty of exploiting the world for our benefit/amusement.
“there can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself”
However, Christianity is in a unique position of being able to speak into the situation and offer hope. Pope Francis shares the core of the human problem and the answer that Christians offer when he writes, “there can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself” (118). This is the crux of Christian faith—the hope (read: assurance) that the God who created us has begun the process of restoring in us that which was tarnished in the fall—the imago Dei, the image of God.
The Christian church is in the business of relationship; the vertical relationship between humanity and God and the horizontal relationship that exists among humans. God is renewing and restoring these relationships as we the church proclaim the renewal of relationship through the blood of Jesus to a world that is broken, hurting, and destructive. Until all relationships are fully restored at the return of Christ when the whole earth becomes God’s dwelling place, the world will continue to suffer the effects of sin and brokenness.
Thanks be to God that He is working restoration, healing, and hope in the world through us His people. While the ecological crisis we are facing may seem daunting, the church’s task is to proclaim the healing that comes through Christ Jesus alone and to live out our creation mandate of being faithful stewards of God’s creation.
Photo used under Creative Commons: CC0. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/New_Holland_tractor_in_a_field.jpg
Pastor J-M shares some occasional thoughts and musings on our life together as followers of Christ. The views are his own.