Monday, November 5, 2007

God's Life Support System

Hello, PDX!

Hebrew has no word for nature, or Mother Nature, or such phrase as "the natural world". All of the concepts which we associate with these terms today could only be expressed by one Hebrew word: God. Nature is not God. But God is nature. God is the universe. God is not only the "maker of heaven and earth: but also the maker "of all that is, seen and unseen," to quote the Nicene Creed. God is all of this, and so much more and so much more and so much more. Unless God is, nothing else is. All things are therefore a manifestation of God.

Creation lives and breathes because God lives and breathes. God lives and breathes in creation. God lives and breathes in you and me. Otherwise we wouldn't. Period. God is not simply some sort of reclusive master bulider who built the biggest possible sandbox and at the completion of that building somehow retired to a 9' x 9' tin garden shed located somewhere clear outside the universe, now suspended in metahybernation until, so overcome by infinite boredom and inactivity, God at last rouses and puts a match to the whole thing and the whole idea. As though it never were and had no purpose in the first place. God is incapable of such.

The God who got muddy by mixing clay with hands, then shaping and molding life and putting the breath of his/her own life into that clay life is incapable of such remoteness or separation. Life inheres in God. Therefore, God inheres in life.

I know. I'm married to a painter. She can't paint unless the paint gets onto her as well as the fabric or the pot or the paper, whatever she's painting. Paint is not only applied with brushes or sponges or rags. Paint is applied with everything she has, first and foremost herself. It's not that she's a sloppy painter. That's simply how it's done. A painter cannot apply the paint without first being the paint. It's a bond that exists before it is ever visible. It's a bond that is never broken. For a painter that's an impossibility. The paint is nothing without her. She is no painter without paint and painting. So why would it be different for a creator, a maker of all that is, seen and unseen? How could it be?

That's different from magic. That's different from manufacturing. Creation is neither of these.

So I no longer talk about "the environment". That's a piteous, disgustingly, insultingly inadequate term meaning, to most of us, simply our surroundings. As though they were optional. As though they were inconsequential. As though they were only trivial scenery or props. As though they had no life. As though we were separate. As though we could exist without them. As though we were independent. As though we and they were not God's.

How ironic that Christ followers who are custodians of the doctrine of creation and for whom, according to the Nicene Creed and the book of Colossians, Christ is the means through which all creation was created, should seem to have such a stunted sense of creation. I never encounter other Christ followers who have Webster's fuller definition of the environment as "the complex of climatic, edaphic, and biotic factors that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival" on the tips of their cognitive tongues or their faith. If you're out there, where are you? For God's sake, where are you?

Yep, I've given up on the term "the environment". It's been hijacked, looted and emptied.

New term: God's life support system. "Creation" doesn't cut it because we instantly relegate that to an activity over and done with eons ago. (I disagree, but I may be in a minority among Christ followers. Sadly, creation has become too radioactive to use these days. Nothing wrong with the term, but our minds seem too small to do it justice and respect...)

Hence, I now do God's life support system. Or perhaps it should be written God's Life Support System. OK, bold type may be too much; but doesn't it at least deserve the upper case letters of proper nouns?

God's Life Support System. That's not an empty label but a theological statement declaring: 1) whose it is; 2) what it does; and 3) how it works. Think about it. Think about it, think about it, think about it.

Think about it next time you toss a plastic water bottle, paper cup, alakaline battery, food wrap or oil filter into the "trash". Think about it next time you start a war. And think about it next time you say "people first" or "my generation first" or "my country first" or "my family first" or "we can't do this because it might harm the economy". Tell me, please, what economy can possibly exist without God's Life Support System? I'll wait patitently for the first demonstrable answer. And I'll buy it a $200 dinner with wine--from God's Life Support System.

Aren't we all in God's Life Support System together? Could it be that Jesus, citing bedrock concepts of Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6, was really getting at something fundamental when he said that loving God and loving one's neighbor as oneself were inseparable? Tell me, how can we separate ourselves from God's Life Support System? By comparison, walking on water is a snap. How can we separate ourselves from God and have life?

So think about God's Life Support System. Think about it. Share the term with friends and family and people of faith or non-faith everywhere. I've coined the phrase and I'm giving it away free of charge. Take it. Use it. On-the-house. Give it away.

Kinda like grace. That's another thing. God's Life Support System also happens to be God's delivery system for grace. If you can dispute that, I'd like to hear all about that past or present life outside of God's Life Support System. All ears here.

Makes sense. We humans have brought sin into God's Life Support System by putting something, anything--ourselves included--in place of God. Makes sense that the remedy for this should come through whom all things were made, Jesus the Christ, God made flesh. Makes sense that the remedy should come within God's Life Support System and on behalf of it. How else could it happen? Where else could it happen? How else could we know it?

So believing in Jesus Christ is hard? No way! It's a no-brainer in God's Life Support System! Comes with the territory.

So think about it. And tell us what you think. Any and all comments desired.

Happy life! Happy support! Happy system! Happy breath of God-knowing!

Pastor Roger

1 comment:

scott said...

Pastor Roger,

You might be interested to know that Brian MacLaren's new book, EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE comes very close to describing the environment in the same terms you are using and describes our current utilization of the world's resources as a 'suicide machine'.