I set out to do one thing and ended up accomplishing another. I decided to study the “I am” statements that Jesus makes in the gospel of John. Next year I will be teaching World Geography at a Christian school where the students are led to consider how what they are learning relates to a Christian worldview. We will study topics like water usage and shortages, food supply and distribution issues, and the production and access to electricity. Well, Jesus makes such declarations as “I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the gate (for the sheep), I am the good shepherd, I am the resurrection and the life, I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and “I am the true vine.” Since, in these statements, Jesus uses the things of everyday life to teach his disciples, I thought I could do the same.
The problem is that once I started rereading and studying these passages, I was reminded that the central point Jesus was making in all of these was different from what I wanted them to make. Instead of offering concise and interesting passages that explain God’s concern for all of His creation, they offer an important reminder that, although our physical concerns and the problems and potential provided by the earth and environment are important to God, they are not primary. Of utmost concern to God is whether we, and all of creation along with us, are reunited to Him through the death and resurrection of the Son. When this remains central, other things fall into place.
I don’t think concern for physical needs are absent from the Biblical account of the fall and redemption, nor were they absent from Jesus ministry and the way he demonstrates God’s care for his creation. It’s just that they are not central. We could participate in feeding thousands of people (which Jesus and his disciples did before his declaration, “I am the bread of life.”) Hopefully Jon will use surgery to fix thousands of things that go wrong in our bodies and he might train hundreds of other surgeons to do the same. Bekah might teach and mentor hundreds of students. Grace and Hannah will hopefully influence and be influenced positively through their interaction with their teachers and classmates. But, if in all of this we lose sight of Christ then we’ve missed the point and really do not have much of value to offer.
I still think the Bible reveals to us a God who cares for His creation, is still active in redeeming and restoring it, and that creation care, ecology, and development issues are important things for God’s people to study and apply themselves to but, for now, I will rest in the reminder that Christ is central to all of this.