With likeness comes responsibility

The Seventh Day, Leonard FrenchIn the beginning, God created …. That’s quite an assertion, about which people have argued for centuries. You don’t need me to inform you that people have also debated the interpretation of the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1 for generations as well. For me, and many Christians, Genesis chapter 1 is a wonderful theological statement. It is saying that planet earth is a gift and an opportunity. It is a gift of life. It is teeming with life and possibilities. If I believe it was created for relationship between creator and creatures and you believe something different from me, that is not a problem if we share a love for the planet and a desire to affirm it as “good,” which the Biblical text happens to do. But with this amazing rock in the universe there comes responsibility. There is no point in bemoaning that this or that group of people trash the planet and pollute it or endanger life on it. Those of us who care need to take responsibility for what we can and where we can.

There is an astonishing assertion in verse 27 of Genesis chapter 1: that humanity was made in the image and likeness of the Creator. God, in this view, is not some distant potentate. God is not a remote force. God, in this text, is seeking co-responsibility for what exists with the most powerful agents on the planet – humans.

There is a hymn in the book Together in Song It’s #671:

Made in God’s likeness, moved by the Spirit

called to create a new world for the Lord,

called to create a new world for the Lord.

That hymn reflects the full sense of responsibility of humanity for its power to affect change in the spirit of stewardship for the planet. These are the words of the saints the world needs today. Defeatism (“We can never do it, we are too flawed”) or cynicism (“The cockroaches will inherit the earth”) is no answer that can satisfy the need we must face.

We need the wonderful minds and imaginations; the caring stewardship of those who look for solutions, of those who thought-up the global seed bank in Norway, and now watch over it daily, because climate change is a threat even to that substantial structure. The caring stewardship of those who try to rescue a stranded whales; of those who spend their resources buying or caring for plots of earth to preserve rare species; of those who go out into the field everyday studying the habits and habitats of little-known species. What wonderful people! What Biblical behaviour! What appreciation of the beauty of the earth and which we surely believe is essential to abundant life!

[The artwork posted here is Creation, Day 7 by the Australian artist, Leonard French]