1 Corinthians 2:16
Here I am, today, stating that true believers, the sons and daughters of God, have a mandate to save the earth.
Yet, I have heard other clergy state that God gave us this earth to exploit.
What's the problem?
The problem is with the hardness of heart remaining in many Christians, and with our failure to understand the difference between our historical practice, and God's real and original intent.
In Romans 8:18-22, verses we have already read this morning, verses that were written nearly 2,000 years ago, words that are just as true now as they were then, we are told of the groaning of creation because of the suffering it has endured, and of the hope it has in us, yet which we have failed to deliver all this time.
18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Paul saw a great deal of suffering in his day, and there is still a lot of suffering in the world today.
And we, just like the people then, know that in the kingdom of Heaven all these sufferings will be eliminated.
But Jesus Christ came already; why hasn't this change already occurred?
The next verse tells us why:
19. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
Who are the sons of God, and we could add the daughters of God, as well, that creation is longing for, to eliminate its suffering?
They are the believers!
Then why haven't we been fully revealed to God's creation?
Because we have failed in God's mandate to eliminate this suffering; not only in people, but in the whole of God's creation.
20. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
21. that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Who brought about this corruption?
We human beings.
God gave us this world, as a birthright to take care of, and we failed.
We failed by selling our birthright to the powers of evil.
We failed by corrupting it, or allowing it to be corrupted.
And we who have been born again have failed to correct our past sins.
And we have failed to bring the earth and all its inhabitants into the freedom and glory given to us as children of God.
22. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
Unfortunately, the whole of creation still groans and suffers, today.
How did things get so bad?
Things got this bad because people thought they knew more than God, and could do whatever they pleased.
It sounds a whole lot like today, doesn't it?
But now I'm talking about what happened before the Flood, before the days of Noah.
Listen to what we are told in Genesis 6:6-7 and 11-13:
6. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Not only was the earth suffering and grieving, but also the Lord God who made it all.
Sometimes I believe that there are only a very few people who truly understand how God feels about the absolute mess we've made of His creation.
And that's why we've done so little to correct the mistakes and evil things we've done in the past.
7. And the Lord said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them."
11. Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.
12. And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.
And as I look out upon the earth, I still see all the corruption we have brought upon it in the past, and are still bringing upon it today.
13. Then God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.
The really "funny" thing, in a tragic sort of way, is that most of the people who are trying to correct this problem, today, are non-Christians.
And what is even more tragic, is that when Christians do rise up to do something, they are branded as kooks, or New Agers, or Buddhists, by their fellow Christians.
And just in case we forget who Jesus really considers to be members of His eternal family, listen to what we are told in Matthew 12:50:
50. "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother."
We have already seen, that as sons and daughters of God, we are to do the will of our Father by freeing creation from the corruption we have brought upon it.
It's a chilling thought, but I'm afraid there are many, many people who consider themselves to be Christians, who are going to be on the outside looking in, and crying, "Lord, Lord," and having Him respond, "I never knew you." (Matthew 7:22-23)
How did this hardness begin?
It began in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve first disobeyed God.
It continued through the life of Cain, who slew his brother, Abel.
And because God had accepted the offering of Abel, who was a shepherd, and rejected the offering of Cain, who was a farmer, Cain probably also took out his vengeance on the animals by killing and eating them; and as killing became easier and easier to do, his descendants, and the descendants of the animals, probably also killed each other.
Killing, or even death itself, was never part of God's original intent.
Note what we are told in Genesis 1:29-31:
29. Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
30. and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so.
Gen.1:31 And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
It was very good. All of God's created beings ate of the plants that God has made.
No creature, no being of any kind had to die, that another might live.
They were all created to live without death.
But corruption and death followed.
And corruption and death are still with us.
Some 2,700 years ago, God gave Isaiah a vision of the hope of a future time that is still future to us; and we heard these words this morning (11:6-9).
In this vision of God's intent, there will no longer be any killing, and even the animals who eat other animals, today, will then graze as do the cattle.
But the key verse is verse 9.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
The problem appears to be that we are not full of the knowledge of the Lord.
Kingdom living requires us to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Kingdom living requires us to be perfect and mature, as our Father in heaven in perfect (Matthew 5:48).
Kingdom living requires us to not just speak the words of the Lord's Prayer, but to live them. Then, and only then, will the will of God be done on earth as it is done in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
There's a study that was done over the past twenty years concerning the causes of violence in our society.
The researcher interviewed nearly 30,000 murderers, and he received one consistent answer: these people lack emotional feelings.
The only way a person can lack emotional feelings is if the Holy Spirit is no longer with them.
For God to allow this is to say that this person is totally lacking in any redeemable qualities, and thus God has rejected this person already.
The only way we become this hard of heart is to consciously reject the urgings of the Holy Spirit, and to deliberately go against Him.
Christians, listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit; let the Word of God speak to your heart and soul.
Truly and honestly think about what we are doing to God's creation - all of His creation - and cease from doing evil, and have compassion, and make a positive difference in this world.
We can if we want to.