I grew up in Colorado – one of the most beautiful states in the country. One would expect that a childhood spent travelling through pristine deserts, skiing in snowy mountains, and climbing 14,000 foot peaks would have inspired a deep love for nature, or God’s creation. But it didn’t, at least initially. I did all of those things, but most of my childhood was spent in front of the television or computer. Like many youth today, I was too enamored with entertainment to consciously reflect on enjoying creation.
Scripture talks frequently about how the beauty of creation inspires our worship: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). Job 38 and 39 have some magnificent nature imagery in them, all used to make the point that God is the Creator and we are part of creation. In Romans 1:20, Paul writes that “since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what was made.” The beauty of the earth is meant to inspire worship.
But how do we cultivate that sense of awe and wonder for the beauty of creation, especially in a world where most people would rather sit in front of a television or computer for entertainment? How do we integrate worship with our enjoyment of creation, especially in the city? Here are some ideas I had for people living around Pittsburgh:
(1) Go to the Phipps Conservatory and prayerfully walk through all the exhibits, admiring the handiwork of God in brightly-colored flowers, tropical plants, and trees. If you’re a part of a small-group or Bible study, go as a group to do this, and read a scripture passage about the beauty of creation before starting.
(2) Go to the Zoo. Read Genesis 1:20-24 and 2:29-20, or parts of Job 39. Then walk through the zoo thinking about God’s creativity and genius in designing life.
(3) Next time you exercise, think about Psalm 139:13-14 (“. . . fearfully and wonderfully made . . .”). For example, if you’re a runner, meditate on this verse while you run, thanking God for the muscles and bones and ligaments that are carrying you forward. Pray “breath prayers” while you work out by repeating short phrases or verses in rhythm with your breath (see my story of this here).
The best thing is, by worshipping God with an awareness of God as Creator, we help protect creation. Worshipping in these ways helps create an awareness of God’s glory in creation and our own creatureliness, and that in turn changes the way we live in relation to creation. In the same way, basic practices of Christian discipleship like fasting and sabbath help us reduce our impact on the earth and change our hearts so that we become better stewards of creation. See the next post for more on the disciplines.