Revelation 22:1=5 & Luke 12:13-21

Eden Restored?

In previous weeks we’ve looked at other aspects of why we care for creation. We’ve thought about the way in which God entrusted humanity with the stewardship of creation, and the responsibility that gives us for the things we look after. Rich encouraged us to consider the fact that the whole of creation exists in, through, and for Jesus, and that therefore our care for creation is an expression of our love and worship of Jesus. Last week David, concentrating on Climate Change, showed how care of creation is a justice issue. How we address climate change is directly related to our mission to proclaim and be good news for the poor.

This week we are continuing to explore Creation Care, this time from a different perspective. How do we think about creation care in the light of Jesus’ return? What difference does what we believe about the idea that Jesus is going to come back to earth make to the way in which we treat the earth?

It seems to me that there are three ways of thinking about this that can lead to problems in our care of creation.

Firstly – burn through it as quickly as possible. This line of thinking goes that the quicker we make the earth uninhabitable then the sooner Jesus will come back to sort everything out. Now, it is easy to say that this sounds a bit daft, and to dismiss it. But, I wonder if, an impartial observer were to look at what we were actually doing, then they might come to the conclusion that this is actually what we think?

Secondly – it doesn’t matter if we burn through it because when Jesus returns there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Everything that has gone wrong with the planet will be put right, so it doesn’t matter what we do now. There are bits of this that sound reasonable – Revelation does talk about there being a new heaven and a new earth, and Romans talks about creation being freed from the bondage to which it has been subjected. However. It seems to me that this is also nonsense. It makes as much sense as saying that we might as well say it doesn’t matter if we sin – destroy relationships with lies and gossip, destroy lives with injustice and oppression – because God will put it all right in the end anyway.

Thirdly, and on the flip side, we take God out of the equation altogether. We believe that we have to work to save the planet because there is no planet B. We become anxious that if we don’t solve the challenges facing us in the created world then creation is doomed, and us with it. Jesus is never going to return, so it is all up to us.

And, thinking about it, what I said about the first thing is true for all of them. We might say that we don’t think they’re right – but what do our actions say?

It seems to me that all three of these errors can be avoided with a good understanding of what the Bible does teach us about Jesus’ return.

Firstly it promises us that Jesus is coming back. Jesus talked about this – for instance in Matthew’s account of the good news, at one point Jesus is talking to his followers about the end times and says, “For as lightening that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man”. Paul talked about this – for instance in his first letter to the church at Thessalonica he writes,

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command”. Revelation talks about this – in fact almost all of Revelation is about this.

Jesus is going to return to earth. At that point we will see creation reconciled to God and itself, including humanity, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth where the pain and the sorrows of the old heaven and earth will be no more. We can trust God with the future, we do not need to be anxious or despair. But we do need to be ready.

This is the second thing I wanted to emphasise this morning. We’ve already started thinking about it with the Cat in the Hat. The reading we had from Luke’s account of the good news, has at it’s core a call to live in the light of the end. In this case, what we value and how we use our wealth. The whole of this chapter of Luke’s book has this theme. It begins with Jesus teaching about the judgement that everyone will face at the end of time, and the importance of living lives of authentic loyalty to Jesus. It goes on from here to reassure us not to be anxious, drawing on illustrations from nature, because God cares for us.

It then talks about household scenes, describing servants waiting for their master’s return – will they be ready or will they tire of waiting and neglect their duties?

All of these are based on a foundational teaching that Jesus is going to return, and that how we live now matters. We are to be ready. And part of this readiness is to take seriously the call to live by Kingdom values as we wait for the King to come and make them eternal.

In Revelation we read that the eaves of trees are here for healing of the nations. As we wait for that healing to be seen in all it’s fulness, we work to bring that healing now to nations and to creation.

Challenge to change – banging on about this for a month. I haven’t changed anything. I’ve heard most of this before. Just occasionally I change something – took me two goes and about 12 months to change to bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste tablets, soap and shampoo bars. Tried short showers and have gone back. We as a church have this pattern as well – every so often we have a push on it. How are we going to change the culture so that it becomes engrained?
Is there an idea that’s being kinda nagging at you through this series? Do it.

Green energy supplier
Give to Tearfund
Bamboo toothbrush
Buy unpackaged veg locally
Reduce amount of meat and dairy eaten
Volunteer at Animal Care charity
Keep your phone for longer, and then get a Fairphone

Choose one. Write on piece of paper. Put in envelope. Write your address on the envelope. Put on collection plate on the way out. In six months I will send to you.

If you’re at home – do it and put it in the diary to review in 6 months.

God has entrusted the stewardship of creation to us; creation is by, through, and for Jesus; in caring for creation we are being good news for the poor, and Jesus is going to return and hold us to account for our care of creation. What are we going to do next?

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