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The fall : Creation's groaning
The fall is ultimately a story of broken relationships, and not just between us and God.
Adam and Eve can not be blamed alone for the entrance of sin into the world, every human being (except Jesus Christ) has made the same choice. Which is why Paul wrote 'all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23).
The Fall not only spoilt our relationship with God & God's relationship with us but also our relationship with the rest of creation & God's relationship with the rest of creation.
The very relational interdependent nature of creation means that one broken relationship affect all the others (page 38)
Will admit that I have always thought of the fall as only affecting our relationship with God, which after reading this chapter I have seen to be a very selfish thought. And that selfishness is ultimately the reason the human race has seemly cared so little for what we have been doing to the environment.
The Fall in fact affected 4 different relationships
- between God and humanity
- between human beings; I have never considered this, Adam blames Eve (battle of the sexes), further breakdown through Cain & Abel (Jealousy & murder), ultimately causing misunderstanding & enmity between different cultures & language groups (tower of Babel Genesis 11)
- between humanity & the natural environment
- between God & his creation (The curse has even affected creation's ability to recognize it's own creator. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him (John 1:10)).
Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat plants of the field. By the sweat of you brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return. (Genesis 3:17-19)
Pain and suffering in a fallen world
Natural disasters on a vast scale = groaning of creation
The world is suffering alot of pain and suffering because of the broken relationship between us and the relationship with God, but at the same time certain suffering and even death is a necessary part of life.
The roots of the environmental crisis
Environmental crisis = Spiritual crisis
I think that can be seen as a bit of a radical statement, especially to those who blame Christianity for the way that human beings have used and abused the earth for our own selfish gains, and those who just don't believe in God in the first place.
I loved this quote that Dave Bookless used from Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew;
'Science alone will not be able to resolve the situation because it is a moral, spiritual and ethical issue requiring major changes in our behaviour'
Wow! Honestly I see that as a call to action for Christians. Great opportunity for Christians as we understand the root cause and the cure (Jesus Christ)
Judgment and hope
How God feels about the rebellion that has led to the devastation of creation
Creation groaning is not a world in decay (worldly view) but the pains of childbirth, the hope that God has given us that 'better' is coming. That God is not going to leave his creation or us for that matter.
However damaged God's works are by human folly, they still witness to this great God, and God still sustains his creation (page 45).
1. What examples can we see in the world today, and in our own lives, of the breakdown in relationships between humanity and creation?
The droughts, then when the rain comes the floods that follow probably are the most recent example. The only personal example is probably the fact that I get sunburn alot, and am allergic to grass.
2. How far can we attribute all suffering and pain to the fall and sin's entry into this world? Think of some actual examples from recent news or your own experience.
Ultimately sin entering the world in the beginning is the reason we have all pain and suffering. But you can't blame an individuals sin for things like the Victorian bushfire's or the Earthquake in Haiti, they happened because of the broken relationship that we all have with creation and God.
3. The World Wide Fund for Nature writes of encouraging faith communities to 'enlarge the significant role they play in caring for the environment'. Are there ways you could engage in this process?
Starting a group at church which prays for the environmental issues and also gets involved with organisations that are doing projects in the local community.