Genesis 1:26-31 & 2:4-18
This sermon is more 'note like' rather then full text
Over the last few years many firms and businesses have found it useful to have Mission Statements which focus what they are aiming at. If an organisation doesn't know what it is there for then it can have all sorts of problems. I believe it is helpful for a Church to think about it's Mission Statement. As the Church in Barrow what are we trying to achieve. It can be a test of all that we are about. To help us think this through we are going to look at some passages of Scripture which tell us what God wants us to do. At some point we will need to further focus and earth it in our own local community. But to begin with we need to have a wide horizon. We begin this week with a consideration of what God expects of us in the world he created, this comes before the existence of the church or anything else explicitly religious, and is the most fundamental Mission Statement of all.
The first mission statement - Our Calling in the world.
Intro. Science and Genesis 1. Room for different interpretations. The primary concern for Israel was to distinguish their world-view from that of their neighbours. Genesis is concerned primarily with theology. For example - the moon and the sun which were often worshipped in other Ancient Near Eastern religions are simply ‘big light’ and little light’. In the Babylonian creation myth creation is a result of struggle, in Genesis 1 it is the almost effortless creation of God - he speaks and it is made.
1 - Set in God’s creation
Gen 1 - The first thing to note is that created things were said to be ‘good’ by God before human beings are created
2:7 - Humans are part of creation - made from the dust of the earth - and yet have the image of God
Be fruitful - well we have done that one pretty well!
Rule/dominion - To take an active responsibility. Human beings whilst a part of creation, have enormous influence of their environment. The question is how will we use that influence. Will our ‘rule’ be benign or exploitative. It was the during the enlightenment and the industrial revolution that most exploitation came in.
2 - Called to stewardship
1:28 - be fruitful, rule. & 2:15 - to work it and take care of it. Trees were given according to 2:9 that were ‘pleasing to the eye and good for food’
Work and care - it is not ours but God's. The concept of Stewardship. The world is God’s and we are accountable to him.
Four ecological principles in the Bible (Calvin DeWitt in McGrath, p.29)
1 - The ‘earthkeeping principle”: just as the creator keeps and sustains humanity, so humanity must keep and sustain the creator’s creation
2 - The ‘sabbath’ principle: the creation must be allowed to recover from human use of its resources
3 - The ‘fruitfulness principle’: the fecundity of creation is to be enjoyed, not destroyed
4 - The ‘fulfilment and limits principle’ : there are limits set to humanity’s role within creation, with boundaries set in place that must be respected
The idea that dominance was equivalent to exploitation and was responsible for the ecological crisis can be traced back to a paper given by Lynn White in 1967. Alister McGrath in The Re-Echantment of Nature shows that White’s paper does not stand up to either theological or historical examination (e.g. St Patrick)
3 -Scientific endeavour
2:19-20 - the naming of the animals. This was not like parents but like the biologist who sorts and classifies. It was the beginning of the scientific calling to understand the world.
The creative and scientific aspects of our work.
Broadly speaking we were put here to develop the potential of the world in a creative, caring and positive way.