We affirm the natural world as God’s handiwork and dedicate ourselves to its preservation, enhancement, and faithful use by humankind.
The Social Creed begins with who God is as Trinity. We cannot know who we are unless we know who God is. The next stanza looks at the creation brought about through God’s good action. Where are we? This seems like a moot and obvious question. ‘I am right where I am standing?’
And where is that? ‘Inside my house or office.’
And what is that on? ‘The ground.’
Who made the ground? Who made everything and sustains everything as an unnecessary gift. ‘Well, God, I guess…’
YES! God made everything when God did not need to make anything. All of creation is a beautiful gift out of the loving being of God.
When you give someone a gift, it hurts if they abuse it. How we treat the gifts we receive reflect back on how we view the one who gave us the gifts. This is how we should see the natural world. It is a gift offered by God and so it should not be spurned or abused or used for momentary benefit. We should ‘dedicate ourselves to its preservation, enhancement, and faithful use by humankind.’
That human part is important. We are a part of creation.
For the past 200 years, people have argued that there are too many people on earth and the way to solve any environmental issues is to depopulate the planet. Thomas Malthus, a 18th century British Priest and economist argued that because resources grow arithmetically and people grow exponentially, there are going to be too many people on the planet.
This is both wrong and dangerous. Wrong because it assumes resources are currently being used efficiently (which they are not). Dangerous because it leeds to population control. When drought hit India in the 1870s, some leaders did nothing because they thought there were too many Indians any way and a few had to die. Population Control always reverts to racism or classism, it is about getting rid of people that don’t look like you.
The environmental dangers that are present now are not because of too many people but because of total indifference to the environment. For too long, people ignored the consequences of their actions.
The Social Creed reminds us that in saying God created everything, we cannot ignore the consequences of how we live. We should strive towards balance, renewal, and stewardship of the gifts of God. This is not secular environmentalism creeping into the church. Instead, this is living into a Genesis mindset. If we think Jesus is Lord and has saved us from our sins and is making all things new, we should not forsake the gift of creation. This is earth is not a temporary home before we get to heaven. As the Book of Revelation shows, the new Jerusalem will descend to us. Creation will be renewed not left.
Let us live into God’s new creation now!