"God watched as though he were like a child full of joy as the sun rose over the horizon. And as he was engulfed by its beauty he cries out again and again each new morning, ‘Do it again!’” These were the words of my friend Steve several years ago that as I drove into the Rocky Mountains last week I couldn’t help but personally reminisce while describing the beauty of God’s creation to my friend Kenny in the back seat. Kenny was here in Calgary visiting with a team from Abilities Church in Toronto while presenting in a conference at Center Street Church called ‘Life Without Limits’. Being their first time out to Calgary we took the opportunity as a leadership team to drive out to Banff as a bit of a retreat on the Saturday. As we drove further west from the city I realized that Kenny has been blind since birth and so the only way he would be able to see the natural beauty of our surroundings would be if I described it to him.
As I drove I would try my best at describing the amazing beauty of the soaring heights to the mountain tops, the amazing colors of the trees and flowers around us, the depths of the crystal clear lake waters beside the highway, and the excitement of the chance at seeing a large moose which crossed the road in front of us just inside the town of Banff. Each time I described something new Kenny would be so excited while exclaiming, “This is so cool!!!”
It seems each night since then that as I turn to the news I hear about the devastating environmental crises that is ravaging our planet. The Gulf Oil Spill, Carbon Emissions, Global Water Crises, Pandemics and Superbugs, Nuclear Energy Waste, and the battle between economic recovery and developments within oil companies or the need for clean energy; where is our sense of holistic stewardship and respect to dominion? Have we lost our created identity and unity for the self serving desires of one dominant species – humanity?
I have heard both sides of the argument; “The world is going to end unless we change now!” and “Global worming is a fraud made up by hippies and tree huggers.” It shouldn’t really matter whether we count ourselves on the environmentalist side or economist’s side; what is important is being on God’s side. After all, it is all created by him!
It is often quoted that God gave dominion to all humanity, “the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26) I don’t think God’s intentions were that we were to do whatever we wanted to please our own purposes. Rather I believe it was a uniting identity we had as a place in creation to tend to and take care of all that God created. In much the same sense as we would bear the image of God, so to we would look after, love, and foster all that he created within relationship to us.
So then what does it mean to act in dominion of the earth? Here are a few thoughts to which I thought of and maybe you might like to add your own later.
Pray for creation and all that is in it; understanding the realities and context the earth is faceing today. It is important to recognize that we are not just physical but spiritual beings and by acknowledging that spiritual connection with nature we can find God's grace and healing uniting us in purpose and harmony.
Educate and spending some time reading while learning about the many issues our world is facing today. Don’t just really on major corporate news providers to share what they deem as important or relevant but dig deeper into the issues; listen to the hearts and minds of those who find themselves passionately involved in these global concerns. What you might just find is a vision for your own expression of involvement to transform the way we treat the environment! (A place I like to check from time to time; maybe you might like to visit this site as a way of launching some creative thought patterns – http://www.globalissues.org/)
Write a letter to your MLA, Prime Minister, or city official (maybe you might even like to start a blog) articulating the thoughts you have towards the need for better environmental legislation or national practice. Don’t just write about your frustrations and disgruntlements; take the opportunity to engage there minds with some ingenuities and resourceful ways in which our city and nation can bring better stewardship to the global issues at hand.
Primarily I think it is important to take an active roll yourself in the way you practice dominion. It might mean some radical changes in your life but by acting holistically in your own stewardship you will be healthier for it and find that many who around you will be inspired by your commitment. One of the easiest ways I have found this in my own life is to try and adapt to a three R’s lifestyle – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. It’s not that I’m perfect at it but as Jesus exemplified, radical transformations always begin with the movements and choices of one man!
Finally I think it is important to love our environment. Have you ever watched that video of a plant which over the span of a minute or two you see it start from a seedling and then grow into a fully blooming flower? Now imagine sitting there and waiting in natural time, watching with complete anticipation, not just seeing but hearing, smelling, feeling the plant as it blossoms and grows. Perhaps then in those moments, when we are willing to spend this kind of energy and time with God’s creation we will leap at the joy and exuberance of witnessing such miraculous beauty while catching ourselves bursting in praise with the words, “This is so cool! Do it again!”