Malcom Gill is here from Sydney Missionary and Bible College. Each and every week, we talk about different aspects of running the race of the Christian faith and life.
This week, I’ve been thinking a bit lately about our world. And I mean there’s a lot going on the world, a lot of terrible news. Especially this year, we’ve just seen terrorism and all kinds of crimes against humanity and stuff like that. But one thing we don’t talk about as much these days is our role in creation, caring for our world, and nature you might call it. What’s your take on this, Mal?
That’s a great question. Sam, I think about creation as something that is inherently good. So in the Bible, the earliest parts, God makes it, and he creates, and he says it’s good, it’s good, it’s very good. So there’s an element where creation is very good. When God gives an endorsement, that’s a pretty decent endorsement, right?
So it’s His idea and it’s very good. But as we know, our creation is broken like all things in our world so we have relationships that are broken; we have physical ailments that show we’re broken. But also in creation, there’s an element of brokenness where things aren’t quite as good as they could be.
Now when we think about life and we think about particularly creation, there’s an old mistake that we often make. In the first century, for example, there were a group called the Gnostics, and they basically had this view of life that what’s in your heart or the spiritual things, the unseen things, that’s what’s really good, but the outward and the physical is actually really bad.
And so sometimes I think, as people, even as Christians, we can often view creation as well it’s a good thing but it’s really what’s on the inside that counts. And while doing that inadvertently, we downplay the physical; we downplay the external as kind of unimportant. But, again, as you read the Bible, we discover in the book of Colossians, it says about creation that all things were created through Him, being Jesus, and for Him. Jesus was involved in creation. He’s created this world obviously with a purpose and with the goodness but it’s broken. And the mistakes that we make, two-fold.
One, we can downplay it, “It’s rubbish,” and so some Christians think this way. They think, “Well, the world is just going downhill, so why polish brass on a sinking ship as it were?” and then you have sometimes people on the other extreme who almost worship creation. In fact, they can often put it above the lives of people where everything is about worshipping or creation is ultimate. And while that aspiration is good to honor creation, there are some people who go to maybe that extreme as well.
As Christians, what do you think our role is in caring for our world? Like, should we be people who are protesting against trees being cut down or should we be more careful about the way we throw our rubbish out? What do you think?
I think we want to be responsible because God has given us creation to steward. We’re part of that good gift, and we’ve been given that good gift. Even if it is broken, we want to be good stewards there. And that means watching our electricity bill, carbon footprint, rubbish. We don’t want to just dismiss this as unimportant. Certainly we want to value this. In fact, in some ways, that’s how we love our neighbor is by looking after the planet for future generations. So I certainly think we need to do that.
What I think we also need to keep in mind is that, behind creation, there is a creator. We want to value Him above everything and not move creation to the point of that’s what life is all about.
It’s actually not just about the gift. It’s about the giver. And so that’s the motivation for why we look after these things. God has given it to us as a gift so we want to monitor it and not just use these things but look after the planet as a good gift which is entrusted to humanity.
And we do. I went away to the Blue Mountains not so long ago, and just standing, and looking at the view, I mean I know it’s not the Grand Canyon which is massive, but you look out and think, “God made this!”
So, Sam, as we look around, we can see creation, we can see the beauty, but our world is broken. Can you imagine that great day when the Earth is redeemed like it says in Romans 8. We look forward to that day when the things that we see now in a glimpse and we see the beauty made whole and full through the work of Christ.
Yeah, fantastic. I just want to go and lay on a grassy slope.
Each Sunday, FRESH presenter Sam Robinson chats with Malcolm Gill, lecturer at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC), about different aspects of living the Christian life—or ‘running the race’. Hear them on air Sundays at 6.20am and 9.20am or on FRESH just after 9pm each Saturday.