Belief in God as creator is not merely a belief about how everything began; it is the
perspective from which we are to view all life including our own.
It means that we place the highest value on this earth and see life as God’s gift.
Pre-technological societies lived in close dependence on the earth. The daily struggle
for food and shelter, at the mercy of natural forces and the changing seasons, led to a
profound respect for the environment. With technological mastery has come a different
attitude: one that sees the earth as there to be plundered and exploited.
Now we are reaping the whirlwind: with climate change, crises over access to water and
food, destruction of habitat and the rapid extinction of species. It is not clear whether
the earth can still renew itself or whether the damage has gone too far. It is also not clear
that there is the will to stop, to restore this ‘blue planet’, our only fragile home.
In Genesis, God gives humans certain rights over his creation. With these rights, come
responsibilities. We are stewards. A steward manages an estate on the owner’s behalf. We
have been given the earth to look after by God and to hold it in trust for future
generations. If the earth is to sustain our children and succeeding generations, this clearly
places limits on how we treat the earth.
There have always been elements in the Christian tradition to remind us of our
responsibilities and priorities. The Law of Moses made provision for a year’s ‘Sabbath rest’
for the land every seven years and Francis of Assisi addressed the sun, moon, earth, wind
and water as his mother, sisters and brothers.
Harvest and Rogation remind us of our dependence on the earth for our survival, and
lead us to thank God as the ultimate source of all the earth’s riches.
Although Genesis chapters 1 and 2 contain the most well-known accounts of Creation, it
should be remembered that there are extended presentations of the wisdom and majesty
of God the Creator in Job 38-41 and in Isaiah 40-45. Also, in the New Testament, Paul
explains how Christ was central to creation (Colossians 1:15-16) and that not only
humankind but all creation shares in the redemption and renewal that Christ achieved
(Romans 8:19-22). The New Testament comes to a close with a vision of a new heaven
and a new earth where, in imagery that recalls the Garden of Eden, all are nourished by
the spring of the water of life and all have access to the tree of life (Revelation 21).