courtesy Lauren Merritt of The Christian and Creation ...
In the evenings you can usually find me buried deep in a theology book. Legos, dinosaurs, and 200 matchbox cars put away, after the kids’ bedtime, it’s my time to work toward my master’s degree in theology. Every once in a while one of my text books has something especially lucid to say about the created order and our responsibilities and response toward it as God’s stewards. I came across such a passage the other night, and though we’ll come to Colossians later in our current series, I wanted to share it now as well:
Those who have been reconciled to God become proclaimers of reconciliation, calling others to the reconciling love of Christ. Finally, as Paul indicated in Colossians 1:20, the scope of reconciliation is cosmic. God wills nothing short of the reconciliation and unification of all the created order. This is not a far-fetched hyperbolic statement. It has strong implications for ecology. God desires nothing less than a completely harmonious and unified world as he created it to be. Those of us who have been reconciled to God in Christ should seek to be ministers of reconciliation on every level – among our fellow human beings and toward the natural order as well. (John B. Polhill, Paul and His Letters)
The language of reconciliation is beautiful. No longer will everything be at odds: man against animal, animal against man, man’s interests against the environment, the environment pushing back against man, the dollar trumping compassion, compassion arresting our consciences, our consciences at war with our comfort. All things will be reconciled. All things will be at peace. But we, Christians, should be the ministers of such reconciliation in the here and now, in the “already,” while we wait for the promises of God that are “not yet.”
I thought about our food production systems as I read the passage from Polhill’s book. How do battery cages, gestation crates, force molting, feedlots, electric prods, double-decker trailers, foie gras force feeding, veal crates, debeaking, dehorning, antibiotic overuse, and land degredation fit into our ministry of reconciliation? How do they proclaim to the watching world a God who is compassionate and providential, who has sent His Son to die not only for our sins, but to reconcile the entire world to Himself – to free it from bondage and decay?
How do we support industries that allow for 10% of animals to be strung up by the ankle or scalded alive in the abbatoirs, that accept and standardize the percentage of chickens that will die from crushing and heat exhaustion on the trailers, that use antibiotics to make up for sickening the animals with the grains we chose to feed them, that allow for sows to chew their mouths to bloody bits in gestation crates so small they cannot turn around, that find it acceptable to raise cattle in conditions that guarantee the presence of deadly bacteria in our meat, that starve chickens into shock so that upon breaking the fast they produce a few more eggs ... How can we support and condone and allow these industries? How can we turn away, plug our ears, open our wallets, and pretend we don’t see the reality lurking beneath the surface of our grocery store shelves?
How can we proclaim with our lives that the suffering of creatures and creation does not matter to us – and then proclaim with our mouths a compassionate, saving, gracious, holy, mighty God who is redeeming the entire world and reconciling all things to Himself through the blood of the Lamb?
Is your God a great redeeming, reconciling God of all creation, all things whether on earth or in heaven, or a God who prefers frugality to compassion, ignorance to empathy, and a peace with the status quo to living radically for His kingdom?
My friends, God has secured salvation for our souls, but so, so much more as well. How often we forget that! The scope of his redemption is cosmic, the ends of his grace and mercy, limitless. This is the Christ we know through Scripture:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through himand for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20, ESV, emphasis added)