The Spirituality of Sustainability

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Perry Bigelow - Spirituality of Sustainability Given at the 16th Annual Affordable Comfort Conference - April 16, 2002

My Vision as a result of the Bible's View of Sustainability

Intellectually, my belief system is based on the indisputable fact that the Bible is by far the most reliable and accurate book that we have from antiquity.

Its integrity as a historical document recording historic events gives me confidence that it is God's communication to mankind.

Therefore, I can base my life on its teachings, and this is what it teaches about sustainability.

1. God created the heavens and the earth and the creatures and mankind.

2. When He surveyed it, He saw that it was very good.

3. Unlike any other animal, mankind was made in the image and likeness of God.

4. The creatures and mankind were vegetarians until after the fall.

5. God fully intended that man would be the manager or steward of all that God had created - both animals and the earth. This was truly a high calling.

6. Man's likeness to God involved his freedom to will and choose and do. Man could have chosen to eat from the Tree of Life and thus live forever in a mutually loving relationship with God. He would then have fully enjoyed the beauty and sustenance of the creation, and he would have found great significance in the high calling that God gave him of managing creation.

7. Instead Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Thus, mankind's likeness to God was tarnished in a costly way but not obliterated.

8. The result of Adam's autonomous choice to rebel against God's only rule was disastrous: the ground was "cursed"; thorns and thistles would thwart his work; and instead of his food being readily available to him, he would obtain it by painful toil and the sweat of his brow.

9. God's beautiful, glorious, good creation was subjected to futility, decay, and deterioration because of the rebellion of mankind against God.

10. In the future, all of creation will be fully restored to its original goodness, beauty and glory when God's children are fully redeemed and restored. However, it can be partially restored now. Jesus said of Himself: I am the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate for the sheep, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the true vine, the way, the truth, and the life, the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold I am alive forever more. Before Abraham was, I am.

11. Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection redeems and restores all people from the fall who put their trust and confidence in Him. The ultimate definition of a fully sustainable life is one that has health and peace now and lasts forever.

12. Metaphorically, a person's greatest opportunity in this life is to go back to the Garden and choose to eat from the Tree of Life, i.e. to follow Jesus. This is the beginning point of real, deep sustainability, and it only occurs within the kingdom of God (in the Garden) under the rule of the resurrected, powerful Jesus.

13. When a person chooses to eat from the Tree of Life, Jesus, he is restored to the position Adam had before the fall, and Jesus gives him the good work of participating in the restoration of creation to its former glory.

14. A follower of Jesus has the responsibility and high calling to foster redemption, restoration, and reconciliation: between God and individuals, between individuals, between individuals and the rest of creation, and between all parts of creation.

The redemption, restoration, and reconciliation of all things under Jesus will ultimately produce full and complete sustainability within all of creation.

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