The Harmony of Creation
May 11, 2003
And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day. . . .
And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number, and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day.
And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (Genesis 1:9-13, 20-26)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
Before the Word, or Bible, was written, people were very much aware of the presence of God through nature. By looking around themselves they perceived the Creator's influence in their lives. These "correspondences" in nature, as we call them, were lost as humanity became more selfish and materialistic. We humans began to rely on our own senses and abilities and outward sight, instead of on the inner sight that was reflected all around us, and was given by God in ancient times.
The Bible is the story of our lives not only from a moral point of view, but also from a spiritual development or psychological point of view. It touches on our affections, motives, foundational principles, and ideas. And it is written in such a way as to incorporate spiritual correspondences.
Minerals such as stone, rock, gold, and silver are all inanimate. They do not move; they do not breathe or have life in them. They form the ground on which we walk and the material for all sorts of structures, either in their own right or in combination with others. Some minerals are hard, others are soft. Isn't this just like the foundational principles of our lives? Our idea of God--or our lack of belief; our views on whether life has a purpose, and whether there is a world beyond this. These influence the way we go about our life. They are foundational principles--the solid base that we use as a reference point for all our thinking and acting. If these are weak and woolly, we flounder like a fish out of water.
Building on this we have the vegetable kingdom, which includes the various kinds of plants. Plants do not move from their position, but put down roots just as we do in the place where we live. They grow, but cannot respond or breathe in the way that animals do. Perhaps we can see these as ideas or motives. They are offspring, and come from the foundation principles. They are the result of moving on from the initial building blocks on which we base our spiritual development. They spring up, but rely on solid nutrients that can be found in the earth.
Finally the animal kingdom is living in a greater sense: animals can move and respond to outside forces. Our affections, thoughts, and actions are mirrored in the characteristics of animals. Vultures wait for their prey to die before pouncing. How often do we act like vultures in our dealings with people? The elephant never forgets. How much do we harbor our resentments? Our thoughts and affections arise from ideas, and become part of us. I am sure we could all mention many traits in ourselves and in others that remind us of the behavior of particular animals.
The three kingdoms are a mirror of our life. Today we are looking at God's creation. All things of the three kingdoms have a correspondence to our spiritual development; but at the same time they form a cohesive whole in our material world.
God is within us and around us. He is life, and everything receives life from him. God is love, wisdom, and use. Everything in this world and the cosmos, or universe, is from him. If everything performs a use, then we should look at all life as mirroring our Creator in one way or another. And we can see this if we will look for his hand in all things.
This concept has vital implications for the way we consider the environment. The variety and harmony of our world is a gift to be used, but not abused. There is a hierarchy, an order in creation. We must respect this as part of God's plan, and we must see each part as performing a vital and important use in creation.
In the mineral kingdom we have the fuel for human life--and for destruction. Can we not see that just as we can be evil or good, the use of the fossil fuel, soil, and so on must be treated with care? How often do we over-mine, over-farm? Our salinity problem is caused by mistreatment of the land.
The provision of oil reserves has been abused. We have used it as a source of economic power and a bargaining chip instead of for the purpose for which it was provided by God. Commerce has used fossil fuels to develop huge industries, and at the same time has cut down trees at such a rate that the ecological balance has been altered, and we now have a problems with the ozone layer.
We miss the point of the harmony of creation if we fail to see the use that trees, plants, and flowers have. They are all part of the linkages in creation, and are part of the provision of life by our Lord. We can see in them the beauty that reflects the Lord's love. In the animal kingdom we see the variety and diversity of life. Yet due to indiscriminate farming, poaching, and environmental devastation, many of our animals are on the endangered species list.
The majestic nature of the whale, elephant, tiger, dolphin, eagle, and many others adds to the richness of creation. Each performs a use in the food chain and in the balance of nature. In them we see love and brutality at the same time. Does this not mirror our human state as well? Many of the different species identify the many characteristics and personalities that are evident in humans. We can learn a lot about ourselves from the behavior of animals. Each species adds to the richness of our world. When we lose a species, we are losing part of the tapestry that is life.
Our pets are loyal and loving, and enhance our existence. They have a quality that assists us to develop our affections and loves. However, their qualities are innate; they operate at a natural level, and not at a spiritual level. Yet we see in them attributes at the spiritual level of our own existence.
In our outer world we see the majesty of the mountains and hills, the beauty of the sky and clouds, and the diversity of plants and flowers. In all parts of creation there is a sense of beauty, joy, and use. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof, the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1).
We, as spiritual beings, have the ability to move from natural to spiritual. We must see nature as a mirror of our development, and as part of the use in Creation. This world is not to be turned to totally selfish ends--indiscriminate fishing and killing, and resource development for its own sake.
Humankind is not the master. God is the master, and it is his creation. We are a part of God's creation, and of its interconnectedness and interdependence. We must work hard to preserve a balance, and see all life as a sacred correspondence with the Divine. All life has the breath of God within it in one way or another. To recognize this is to recognize the infinity and power of God, and our own humanness, selfishness, and frailty. To look at nature and its beauty and appreciate Creation can be a prayer in itself. We can see God in its midst, and recognize the provision he has made for us. In doing this, we can come to respect all of God's creation. He is the all in all; the end, the cause, and the effect.
May we give thanks for our life and for all life. May we respect the importance of living in harmony with all creation, and pray for a closer relationship with God through it. Creation is God in action; nature is his creation. Let us give him thanks, for it is marvelous in our eyes.
Dear God, we thank you for giving us Creation, and for placing us in the midst of this garden planet. We thank you for the wonderful diversity and intricacy of life. Open our eyes to see your divine presence everywhere in Creation, so that we may behold your infinite love and wisdom all around us. Amen.
Rev. Chris Skinner