But when human beings, for whom they shone brightly from the first, joined together in service, were cast out because of their sin and lost the blessedness of paradise, the heavenly lights likewise also suffered the decrease of their light not without grief on their part even though they were not at fault...
- Anonymous, Liber de Ordine Creaturarum, Irish, 7th century
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
- Romans 8.20, 21
We do not understand how immense and all-pervading are the consequences of sin. If we did, we would not dabble at it as freely as we do, but would hate it mightily, run from it earnestly, and resist it to the death.
Sin is more than a spiritual or moral condition afflicting human beings. It is that, of course, and brings out the worst of us whenever it manages to rule in our souls.
But sin also corrupts culture, turning things that should be used for beauty, goodness, and truth into instruments of degradation, ugliness, violence, and death.
Sin gets into institutions – like politics, schools, churches, and markets – where it works corruption, oppression, and injustice. It can be extremely difficult to exorcise sin from an institution, because it plays so well to the sinful inclinations of those who serve there.
Beyond human life, culture, and institutions, sin is a cosmic condition which, once Adam and Eve had succumbed to it, spread its corruption throughout the vast cosmos, by some mystery of spiritual power we cannot understand, but can readily observe. The anonymous writer of the Liber de Ordine Creaturarum understood the power and reach of sin. Not even the stars and galaxies have escaped its corrosion and corruption.
The cosmos, created “good” by God, still contains much of its original glory, beauty, and wonder. But there is much of destruction, decay, and death throughout the cosmos, witness to the horrible power and reach of sin.
Paul says the creation “eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8.19), for it is part of the mandate of all believers to bring restoration to the earth, as well as to their fellow human beings, all culture, and every institution.
It’s encouraging to see believers waking up to creation and the environment – its proper care and best uses. This, too, is part of the mandate assigned to us by God on the day He made Adam and Eve (Gen. 1.26-28; Gen. 2.15; Ps. 111.2). We must not deny or ignore this trust, but take it up as we are able, right where we are, and as fully as we can.
The earth, after all, is the Lord’s, and everything in it (Ps. 24.1). We are stewards of the creation, and good stewardship begins in careful inventories and dutiful attention. Learn the names of the things entrusted to you – the birds who frequent your yard, the trees and plants immediately in your care, the other creatures that you encounter throughout the week. Jesus upholds all these by His Word of power (Heb. 1.3); He cares for each sparrow that falls, and He expects us to do so as well.
Consider what you can do to bring the beauty and order of the Lord to as much of creation as has been entrusted to you. Care for your part of the creation as a sacred trust. Let your property bear witness to the love God has for creation, and the beauty of Him Who redeemed it. We give voice to creation’s praise as we bring out and celebrate its potential for beauty and fecundity (Ps. 148).
Beyond your own space, take an interest in environmental issues and conservation, for in so doing you participate in the upholding work of the Lord. We who know the liberating grace of God have a duty to flow that grace wherever we can, even to ruined or neglected habitats, delicate ecosystems, and parks, trails, and reserves.
The glory of God is woven throughout the creation; by our care and concern for creation, we may be able to help others join us in acknowledging that glory wherever we may discern it.
1. What can you do today to restore creation to a higher level of its original goodness?
2. What can you do to learn more about this calling to restore the reconciled world?
Psalm 8.1-4 (Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
O Savior, how majestic, Your Name in all the earth!
The heav’ns display Your glory, and tell Your wondrous worth!
From babes and nursing infants, Lord, let Your strength increase,
till all Your foes surrender, and all their boasting cease.
When I regard Your heavens, Your handiwork above,
ordained by Your good pleasure, according to Your love,
Then what am I, O Savior, that You take thought of me?
Or I should know Your favor and thus delivered be?
Lord, let me love Your world as much as You do as today I…
Restoring the Reconciled World
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T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Liber, p. 7.