In the beginning, God created the heaven and earth, and the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3, NIV)
This was the beginning of the beginningthe moment when God chose to create a universe for His own glory. God speaks the first sentence of a love story that will include all creatures and all people throughout all the ages and it all begins with light. Everyone we know and everything we see starts with God speaking light into existence. Scripture is full of references to light: light is used to represent Gods goodness (Psalm 56:13), a guide (Psalm 43:3), and the truth (John 3). God himself is light (1 John 1:5). So, its not surprising that when God sends his only begotten Son, He is called the Light of the World who conquers all darkness. And we, as followers of Jesus, are called to be children of light (Ephesians 5) and the light of the world (Matthew 5). In choosing to follow Christ, we become new people with new priorities. God changes our hearts and our behaviors change, too. Its not about following a list of rules; its about following the lifestyle of Jesus. Just before Jesus left this earth, He said, Go into the world and preach the gospel to all the creatures, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything Ive commanded you. The very first commandment we were given in the Bible is recorded in Genesis 2:15. We were told to tend and care for this gardenthe earth. We cant go out and make disciples while simultaneously destroying the water, the air, and the creatures that God loves. If we dont respect the world around us, were missing a major part of what God commanded us to do. Its time for the church, as children of the light, to take a leadership role in caring for the planet. And it will be good.
For more of Dr. Sleeth’s reflections, see the Blessed Earth Hope for Creation Films and Guidebooks (Zondervan 2010).