From the Pulpit: Caring for the body of God

From the Pulpit: Caring for the body of God

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People of the great faith traditions have a profound investment in the environmental crisis which threatens the life of God’s creation, our beautiful earth. The way we think about God can help us connect the dots of our environmental responsibilities.

The only way we can talk about God is in metaphors. One helpful metaphor is thinking of the world, our solar system, the universe, and universes unknown, as the body of God.

St. Paul, in his sermon in the Books of Acts, quoted a Stoic philosopher: “In God we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Put another way, “We live and move and have our being in the body of God.”

This means we are never outside of God because we are part of God’s body. God is in you and me and every person, albeit however undeveloped or at sleep the awareness of God may be.

Church people often just don’t think about the environment, or think of it as “secular” or removed from God, when nothing is closer to us than the environment. The creation is God’s body, and we are part and parcel of it. From its dust we come and to its dust we return.

The environmental crisis and our relationship with God go hand in hand. That marvelous living sage, Wendell Berry, writes, “There are no sacred and unsacred places, only sacred and desecrated places.”

This is a science finding and an ethical fact: We are imperiling this beautiful world out of our greed, indifference, and ignorance.

This is a faith fact: “And God saw all that was made and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). “The heavens tell the glory of God and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork” (Psalms 19:1). “The Bible before the Bible,” said St. Francis, “is the creation.”

Our faith imperative is stewardship for God’s creation. We are in God and God is in us. We are God’s hands and feet. We are God’s researchers, legislators, educators, and protectors of all cares for mother earth. What John Wesley said three centuries ago applies to our environmental stewardship and the future of our beautiful planet: “Do no harm, do all the good you can, and stay in love with God.”

Bortell is a retired United Methodist pastor and currently the interim pastor at the Mennonite Church of Normal. He may be reached at jimbortell@gmail.com

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