If We Love Jesus, We Should Take Care of His Stuff | Sojourners

If We Love Jesus, We Should Take Care of His Stuff

Image via Mopic/shutterstock.com
Image via Mopic/shutterstock.com

A former coworker here at Sojourners describes evangelicals simply as people who talk about Jesus a lot. As far as definitions go, this isn’t bad — it even shows how we ought to live out our faith in morality.

And a Jesus-y morality should show itself in how we care for creation. With the upcoming papal encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Sii,” an ecological consciousness is in the air right now. But of course we ought to be concerned about it for better reasons than because it’s trendy.

Why does caring about Jesus mean we should care for the earth? There are plenty of Old Testament passages about the lordship of God over all creation, but let’s limit ourselves, for the sake of evangelical argument, to Jesus. He cares about ecology because of his incarnation into creation, his miracles restoring creation, and his lordship over creation.

As the prologue of John’s gospel teaches, God wanted us to be enlightened — so much that he actually became one of us (John 1:9-18). Jesus descended to the lower earthly regions and made his creation holy by existing in hypostatic union with humanity.

And “hypostatic union” is just a fancy theological phrase to say that Jesus stayed completely God and became completely human without these two elements becoming mixed or separated. This elevates God’s creation and makes it, especially our human nature, smell like the divine. Since the God who holds the universe in the palm of his hand walked on our planet, we must value this planet deeply.

Or, as The Message translates John 1: "He moved into the neighborhood.” So we ought to keep it clean.

Even Jesus’ miracles should foster an ecological consciousness in us. They are the Kingdom of God coming into the present evil age — the restoration of the world as it ought to be.

Usually, this manifests itself in the restoration of humanity — physical, moral, and social — but Christ also restores the earth to its natural flourishing. When Jesus calmed the storm as his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee (Mt 8:18-27, Mk 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25) he brought order to a disordered and dangerous creation, for the sake of his disciples. Even the waters and wind, the ancient symbol for natural disorder, chaos, and evil, could be controlled and restored by his words.

Jesus is the king over all creation, so how can we disrespect what is his? As a friend of mine puts it, since we love Jesus, we should take care of his stuff. In Christ’s ascension the whole earth has been put underneath his feet — nothing remains outside of his control (as Hebrews 2 makes screamingly obvious, and Revelation confirms). Just as we respect a friend’s pans when we use his kitchen, we need to respect what is under Christ’s authority because we respect him.

So we should feel free to talk about Jesus a lot when we talk about the environment. He joined the earth, owns it, and is remaking it. He is what makes it important.

On the other side, it is staggering not to talk about ecology when we talk about Jesus. Our care for the earth is rooted, as is all of our morality, in Jesus’ love and actions for us. You can’t separate those two without doing violence to either one of them.

Greg Williams is Communications Assistant for Sojourners.

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