Source: Unsplash/Bonnie Kittle
Written by: Raymond Kwong (Chief Executive of CEDAR Fund)
Christianity is about the pursuit of faith, hope and love. As we ponder upon the teaching of these virtues, we often limit it to only between God and man (ourselves), yet the teaching of Colossians 1:15-20 reiterates that the salvation of God through Jesus Christ is for all creation.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together…and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:16, 17, 20)
Will our understanding of faith, love and hope be different if we include all of the creation in the dialogue of such truth?
A Chinese hymn “Because of Faith” incorporated some miracle stories from the Old Testament into its lyrics. Miracles usually refer to things that are supernatural, be it the sacrificial lamb for Isaac, parting of the Red Sea, Daniel in the lion’s den, or the walls of Jericho. These supernatural events exhibited how God responded to His faithful ones, and revealed that Jehovah is the God who creates and is in control of all things. His omnipotence can be manifested through natural laws as well as supernatural events. Natural laws are set by Him and can be changed as He wishes.
Miracles tell us that everything belongs to God and bows before God, including humans. When God performs miracle, He can choose us to be the media. We are not only the recipients but the platforms for God to perform miraculous signs. The creation makes us realise He is the one who creates, owns, and rules the universe. This is the basis of our faith in God, such faith should bring us into obedience. Therefore, we should be glad to be used by God even in the work of miracles in order to bless the world.
Disappointment and hopelessness are penetrating our generation nowadays. Immorality, breakdown of interpersonal relationships, political corruptions, confrontations between people or nations have made us all frustrated and unmotivated. All these sprung from the fall of man. In spite of the Fall, Christian faith brings light to the darkness. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us eternal hope. Yet, the interpretation of such eternal hope is usually human-centred. What about the rest of the creation?
The deterioration of the environment today traces back to human selfishness and the dereliction of our duty as the stewards of the Creation. Extinction, extreme climates, natural disasters, melting of glaciers, etc. have never been more urgent. Some efforts have been made around the world, for example the Paris Agreement in 2015. However, it is basically only slowing down the deterioration but not really tackling the issue.
Despite being disappointed, we won’t be hopeless. In John 3:16 it tells us that God loves the whole world not only mankind. In Roman 8, Apostle Paul says: “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed…that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (v. 19, 21) The hope in Gospel is not only for humans but also for other creation. When Jesus comes again, God, humans and all other creation will be in perfect harmony. This hope keeps us striving to be the best stewards we can be on earth.
Paul says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13). In this context, “love” is agape, the love that is willing to sacrifice and give. At creation, God gave the seed-bearing plants and trees that have fruits with seed in it to humans, and green plants to animals for food (Genesis 1:29-30). God rooted this giving, sacrificial love in His created ecosystem from the very beginning, so that all creatures (including humans), while enjoying their existence, have to contribute to maintain a coexisting world. However, human beings abused the privilege and took it for granted through deliberate neglecting and denying responsibilities that the ecosystem faces a bleak future now.
In reminding humans to shoulder their responsibilities, God used Moses to ordain laws in regard to Sabbath (see Leviticus). The regulations were not only for people to take a break, but also to stop working for a year during the Sabbath year and Jubilee year in the expenses of their income so that the whole creation can regain its breath. Another reminder is the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. As we have received His unconditional love, we are reminded to imitate His love for God, mankind, and the Creation.
Faith, love and hope set the foundation of Christian faith. In putting them into practice, we should look beyond God and mankind to the entire creation. Only then can we truly comprehend the meaning of such truth.
(Originally published in Issue 1666 of Christian Times)