In this space, extracts from writings by theologians on environmental matters are offered for you to look at and think about. You can then either: find the book or text and read more, discuss the extract in a group, or use the questions to frame a discussion about the theme or idea in the extract. The extracts come from Dave Bookless of A Rocha; the Ecumenical Patriarch speaking at a Religion, Science and Environment symposium on the Arctic; Claire Foster: Sharing God's Planet.
In the past, many Christians have seen our God-given mission as, in essence, rescuing dying people from a doomed planet as this world runs out of control like a runaway train. Jesus has provided an escape plan, the church, a bit like a railway carriage that is going to be uncoupled and taken to safety when the rest of the train heads over the cliff to destruction. Mission therefore is a race against time to get people into the right carriage before it is too late.
The Bible's radical message is that God's mission is far bigger and far more exciting than this. Although the train, the world, and everybody on it, are indeed running out of control towards destruction, there is still hope. God's rescue mission is not for a few passengers only, but for the train itself. To return to biblical language, it is not only people whom God made, loves and cares for and brought back into relationship with himself through Jesus, but the whole of creation.
Our task as human beings is to bring the good news of Jesus to all of creation in both word and deed. This is not about our mission to save people like us. It is God's mission of good news for the whole created order. The biblical evidence is that mission is wider than we've often allowed. Humans may be the key agents of mission in the new creation that Jesus has begun, but we are not the only objects of mission. Mission is ultimately not only about people but about the renewal of all things in Christ. The transformation of individuals by the good news of the gospel still is, and always will be, central, but the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ is also good news for every creature.
This extract is from Planetwise pages 136-137, published by Inter-Varsity Press, used by permission. For more information go to the Inter-Varsity Press website
- How does Dave's idea of mission relate to your own views on mission?
- What evidence do we have that God is redeeming the whole creation?
- What do you think 'good news for every creature' would look like?