God’s Broken World
This sermon is part two of the ‘Creation Matters’ series, and looks particularly at the impact the fall has had on God’s good creation and draws out some of the implications of this for our attitude towards the planet. It is based on chapter 2 of ‘Planetwise’ by Dave Bookless.
A Breakdown of Relationships
In the previous sermon on creation, the relationships between God, humans and the rest of creation were explored, particularly looking at how those relationships were according to God’s original design pattern.
In the fall, all of these relationships were broken. It is often easy to focus on what this has done for our relationship with God. As we have all fallen short of God’s glory, so we have become alienated from him and in need of reconciliation. This is perfectly illustrated in the eviction of Adam and Eve from the Garden at the end of Genesis 3.
It is also clear that relationships have been broken between people. The strife that starts with Adam and Eve blaming each other for the disobedience escalates to murder a generation later. We live in a world of conflict and strife. As Bookless points out, “sexism, racism, ethnic hatred, aggressive nationalism and all other forms of prejudice can be traced to this breakdown of relationships starting from the fall.”
Though it is considered less frequently, the fall also had a profound destructive effect on the other relationships. The relationship between humans and creation was broken as the ‘ground’ itself was cursed in Genesis 3:17-19. All of a sudden, work became toil and food production became a battle. Brokenness entered the very creation itself, and this affects the creation’s relationships with God and with people.
The Fallen World
One of the areas where this brokenness is seen is the pain and suffering that we now experience. In Romans 8, Paul writes that the creation is groaning and subject to decay. This is something that plays out on an individual level through our ageing and decaying bodies, and also on a vast scale through natural disasters and environmental catastrophes.
When we understand the effects of the fall, we see that the environmental crisis we face has spiritual roots. This is spelled out clearly in passages such as Hosea 4:1-3. Whilst we cannot usually trace a one to one equivalence from specific acts of sin to specific environmental consequences, it is important to see it broadly as a symptom of a deeper spiritual issue, and therefore an issue that needs a spiritual solution (that will then likely be outworked in practical and physical applications).
There is hope. God has promised judgment for those who destroy the earth (Rev 11:8) and also mercy. The groaning of creation is compared to the groaning of childbirth, and points to new life and liberation. God has not given up on his world!