Creation deserves our compassion—she has been sold into slavery by our sins. This is a post for reflecting outside the ‘temporal box’ and glimpsing through an eternal perspective.
It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose. It was made so by God; but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same
freedom and glory as the children of God. [Romans 8:20-21 Jerusalem Bible
In my little corner of creation I have recently enjoyed some of the most pristine weather over a period of several days. These are the coveted ‘perfect’ days of bright sunshine, mild temperature, low humidity, and slight breeze. It’s nearly a sin to stay indoors on such days. It’s so easy to enjoy ourselves, cultivating renewal of lawns and gardens: the growth is lush. Everything seems perfectly in order as the cycle of life-death-renewal goes on predictably.
But the passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans reveals that it is not actually so. The more common bible translation speaks of ‘creation being subject to futility’. Our notion of observable creation as rightly ordered is a misnomer. When we perceive “all of creation”, which includes both the spiritual realm as well as the material universe; we must understand this in terms of its overall ‘subjection’. In our temporal state we classify as 'normal', reoccurring phenomenon including the sequence of birth, death, and decay. But from the eternal perspective, creation is frustrated and groaning in labor. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods and a host of other ‘events’—all are the created world’s ‘burdens and affliction’. So too are plagues, drought, disease and most of all—death.
Just because we’re consigned by Judgment to a ‘fallen creation’ doesn’t mean it’s the natural state. It’s important to occasionally bear this in mind, so as to put into perspective what the true ‘pristine environment’ actually is. It resembles the New Earth pictured in the Book of Revelation [cf. Rev 21], far more than the idyllic scenes captured in nature journals. Creation has been frustrated in her primary purpose and fulfillment (whatever that will be): she deserves our compassion. We must bow our heads and accept both our own fallen human nature and its damage to all of creation. Then we can accept our redemption.
Christianity is the only faith I know which proclaims the New Heavens and the New Earth. Others (including the view of non-believers) generally see ‘perfection of creation’ as that which is untainted by human interference. I guess there’s a particle of truth in that paradigm, assuming we acknowledge the effect of sin. If we deny sin against the Creator and his corresponding judgment; if we see merely the physical (i.e. scientific) laws of the temporal order or some other physical distinction, as that which defines the state of creation: then we have limited our view unwisely.
Recent events such as the tsunami in Myanmar and the earthquakes in China bring forth all forms of speculation as to the meaning of nature’s eruptions. They range from ‘this is God’s punishment’ to ‘these are simply random but unfortunate weather patterns with disastrous consequences’. Those who point to ‘punishment’ will select some sinful behavior to highlight and claim a linkage. There is a passage in the gospel that I think is particularly useful here.
At that very time there were some present who told [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse
sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent,
you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when
the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they sere worse offenders
than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you
repent, you will all perish just as they did.’ [Luke 13:1-5]
I claim no specific knowledge, but to my mind this is the result of what we refer to as ‘original sin' and its progeny. The ‘sudden’ shifting of tectonic plates under the earth is, in one sense, the result of natural forces building over centuries or even eons: and yet, taken in faith, they are the travails of Creation shaken from her original purpose. Remembering Our Lord’s admonition—these tragedies could have befallen us—there’s no evidence to indicate that the sins of those affected were greater than ours. The victims of these and all tragedies deserve our response in faith: our most heartfelt compassion, prayers, solace and substantial material aid.
Most probably this is the affliction of nature itself caused by the sin of all mankind—sin in which we all share. We must bear the tribulation of violent outbursts until the end times when all of creation will be…"freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God.”