This World is beautiful. I mean, not just quite pretty, but absolutely mind-blowingly, outstandingly, breathtakingly, stunningly beautiful to the extent that, sometimes, all you can do is stand and stare in sheer awe.
I took the photograph above on the Isle of Arran, just off the west coast of Scotland. It’s an island which has been given the moniker of “Scotland in miniature”, mainly because it has flat(ish) rolling fields in the south and rocky mountains in the north, caused by it lying on the Highland fault line which runs through the mainland. It is home to beautiful trees, wild flowers, seals, deer, red squirrel, golden eagle and so many other flora and fauna that you could spend weeks looking at it.
I only spent one day on the island, but also visited the Isles of Bute and Greater Cumbrae, as well as several west coast towns in mainland Scotland, all with their own unique character and quirks. That was just five days in a very small area of a very small country on a planet containing over 300 countries and 7 billion people. From the Himalayas to the Grand Canon, the desolation of Antarctica to the crowded Amazon, there is so much beauty and wonder on this Earth that you could live for over 100 years and still only be able to experience a fraction of it.
Sadly, there is one blot on God’s amazing creation. One factor bringing destruction, desolation, pollution, division, pain and death.
I recently read this post about the awful situations in places such as Mosul, Israel/Palestine and Ukraine. Places where those kids in the school playground who fought every lunchtime, using the excuse “but he started it” have failed to progress from their childhoods, but now have control of media and military and are dragging as many innocent bystanders into their fights as possible, with painful, deadly consequences. Humanity is forgotten and old, man-made artificial divides and selfish motivations become the important things.
Nations and businesses are built on the backs of the poor and disenfranchised. The Earth’s resources are stripped bare in the search for money and power. Natural habitats are destroyed and animals are forced into endangerment and extinction due to the greed of those who then destroy economies, tearing lives apart, pushing the poor further into poverty, seeing the vulnerable blamed whilst those responsible and in charge get off scot free. We accept and encourage hatred of the poorest and most vulnerable, but accept the myth that the rich can’t be punished for fear that they’ll all pick up their ball and run away.
Our atmosphere is being poisoned by burning fossil fuels and belching noxious gases into it in the name of progress, yet we let ourselves be taken in by journalists and politicians who have vested interests in big industry telling us that man-made climate change is a myth. Even if we believe that it isn’t, we sleepwalk towards destruction through apathy, laziness, materialism and greed.
Animals are raised in the harshest and most desperate of conditions in order to feed the richest for as little money as possible. Cattle, fowl and others crammed into barns with no room to move or lay down so that as much food can be produced as possible in as little time as possible and for as much profit as possible. A miserable existence, whose only relief is the violent death which will come at an abattoir.
“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:26-31 NLT)
The part of God’s creation made in his image, the part made to reign over the Earth and all of its animals and plants, is the part which is destroying it. I don’t subscribe to the view that the creation story in Genesis is a literal account, but I do believe that it is an accurate portrayal of God’s purpose for humanity on Earth. We are his gardeners, curators, groundskeepers and caretakers. We have dominion, as some translations put it, over the Earth, but that comes with a responsibility. A responsibility of care and of love for all of God’s creation, not just those in which we have a vested interest. We have neglected that responsibility, either directly or indirectly. Most of us don’t cause this destruction and hatred, but we stand idly by and allow it to happen. We encourage it. We get sucked in by it. We live our lives expecting and wanting it.
The thing is, it’s become so difficult to know what to do about it. I’m not going to give you an answer, because I don’t have one. However, at the very least we need to stand up to hatred, speak out against injustice and the destruction of our planet, seek ethically produced food and clothes.
And pray. Pray for change, for forgiveness, for strength, for guidance. We live in a world which has turned it’s back on God, especially many of those claiming to fight in his name. So much has replaced God in people’s lives; money, power, fame, belongings, sex and, yes, religion.
We need God and the peace he brings, rather than the wars that many think he wants.
We need God and the guidance he gives, not the selfish desires of man which many think will set you free.
We need God and the grace that he gives, because we don’t deserve him. But he still wants us to return to him and be the custodians we were created to be.
We need God.