Thursday, 12 July 2012

Psalm 24 Putting things in perspective

Peter Lockhart

Just in case you had forgotten Psalm 24 puts things in perspective for us:

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it”

The scope of God’s reign, of God’s concern, of God’s love is not narrowed to humanity but to the whole of creation “heaven and earth”.

It is so easy for human beings with all of our presumptuous intellect and command of nature to think more highly of ourselves in the scheme of things. Often I have come across Christians who seem to think that the world has been created simply to be a testing place or stepping stone for human beings to make into some eternal heavenly existence. It is a world view that completely devalues the wondrous creation which God has made and which God values.

How can we as human beings ignore the wonder and plight of God’s creation “for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers”?

There is no doubt the God gave humans a special place within the creation, yet it seems pertinent to constantly be reminded that the special place is within that very creation.

God’s concern for all that God has made is not simply expressed in the poetic meanderings of the multitude of Psalms which speak of God’s relationship with the creation but in the promise of Christ.

Paul writing to the Christian community in Ephesus recognises the importance of humanity and God’s love for people and particular for those who he has chosen in Christ. Yet it appears that choosing is not a choice about exclusion but witness and hope.

As Paul writes, “With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

God’s intention is not the destruction of things but renewal and recreation, it is reconciliation and reconstruction.

For those of us who know Christ now we are given this insight into God’s love and intention for all things – for creation and as people who are called to participate in Christ’s life and ministry through our union with Christ in and through the Spirit we live as people oriented towards that renewal.

Whilst these words may sound somewhat esoteric should not the pragmatic expression of our Christian hope involve our choices about how we live within the creation which God so values and with others whom God has created and loves.

This has implications for our personal behaviour and attitudes as well as our political and moral choices if we are to witness to God’s love for all things.

We do not have to go too far to begin to think about the issues:

This week scientists have been meeting in Cairns and deliberating about what is occurring to coral reefs around the world. The news is not good and continued overdevelopment, pollution and climate change could see and end to the Great Barrier Reef. This would not simply be the destruction of something beautiful but an expression of human disregard for something which God values as part of the creation formed in and through love.

Two weeks ago the Australian government introduced its so called “carbon tax”. It has been much debated and is a flawed policy. Maybe there is no perfect policy but it would seem if the aim is to get us all to think about reducing our levels of consumption and carbon footprint then compensating us seems to miss the point. If some of the climate change predictions are true we are in for far worse than increases in the cost of living. What would it mean for us as Christians to take more seriously our levels of consumption and the carbon pollution that each of us produce? I know I find this an uncomfortable question.

How are we educating and nurturing our children? What is the goal and purpose of life as they understand it? Most education appears to utilitarian and focussed on economic outcomes, be they personal or national. Is success in life to be measured by the size our houses, the hours we work, the things we own, the title we have. What might it mean to think again of the values that are being instilled in our children and how they are formed?

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it”

These are words which implications for how we live within the creation and with others who live in it with us as well.

As people who have our hope founded in Jesus Christ and God’s place in the fullness of time to gather all things into himself to be faithful to this witness and this good news means living our salvation now with integrity and hope as we care for not only one another as human beings but this creation which God made and looked upon and declare “ it is good.”

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