A sculpture. An old, not really that impressive or beautiful, sculpture. Yet it sits in pride of place on my husband Matty's desk at home.
In fact it’s one of his most prized possessions. When we moved house last year, it was the only item that travelled in the car with us, instead of wrapped up in a box in the removal van. Cradled tightly on my knee, Matty would check every so often to see if I was holding it right and was eager to take it from me and place it down somewhere safe when we stepped into our new home. The sculpture isn’t worth much and its artist is not well known, but my husband treasures it dearly above everything else he owns. You see, the value of the sculpture lies solely in it’s creator - Matty’s much loved and missed grandad, George. The sculpture carries an essence of George’s creativity and character which Matty sees each time he looks at it; he loves the sculpture because he loves his grandad.
In much the same way, when I look at the intricacy of a flower’s petals or a butterfly’s wings, I see the essence of its artist. I see his creativity and his loving handiwork. I see the complexity of his character interwoven into the fabric of a spiders web or the bark of an ancient oak tree. Because I love God, I love his works of art; each one made by his very own hands. In the creation account, God moulds the fish of the sea, beasts of the land and birds of the air, and proclaims ‘it is good’. He then entrusts humankind with the Garden of Eden, to ‘work it and take care of it’.
Humanity’s very first calling - long before doctors and youth workers and bus drivers - was to be caretakers of the earth. You don’t have to look far to find a barrage of stories and statistics about the state of the world today which reveal that, sadly, it seems we haven’t done a very good job. Just this week, a sperm whale was found dead with 6 kg of plastic in its stomach - the result of human carelessness and neglect. Even more shockingly, a recent survey by the WWF states that in the last 50 years, half of all the animals on earth have been wiped out by humans. The way we are living our lives is having a devastating effect on the planet that we were gifted by our creator God.
Humanity depends on nature for its very survival. Take the humble honey bee. Bees pollinate around 70 of the 100 species of crops that feed 90% of the world's population. Yep, they’re pretty darn important. Yet honey bees are disappearing at an alarming rate due to a loss of their habitat, use of pesticides and a changing climate. A world without bees would struggle to sustain the growing population of over 7.5 billion people. What's more, without the oxygen produced by trees and phytoplankton in the oceans, all life on earth, including humans, would cease to exist. It seems that this was no accident or coincidence. God created human beings to be completely and utterly dependant on the natural world. Humanity and nature are intrinsically linked; in relationship and deep connection with each other and our creator. In order for us to care for and protect God's most precious and prized creation - human beings - we must also care for and protect the very thing which sustains them - planet earth.
As Christians, we love the God who’s majesty is displayed throughout the universe. If we, as Christians, were to treasure all of God's creation in the same way Matty treasures his Grandad’s sculpture, would we not surely take care of our beautiful planet more than anyone else?