Why reflect on creation? Answer: because God made everything to reflect himself—and he is our beatitude. So pursue medicine, arts, nature, and crafts for the sake of happiness, eudaimonia, makarios, or whatever term you prefer.
Human culture can cultivate the goodness of creation which itself shares in the goodness of God. Or it can vitiate what is good and descend into non-being.
One promises beatitude; the other non-being.
So build well. Love what you create. Enjoy God’s gifts.
How can we do so? Well, that will include pursuing knowledge. Put another way, we should love knowledge or be philosophers.
Philosophy is just the study of what is true. Of course, bad philosophy can corrupt; but good philosophy can edify. But we must know what is to know what is true. So philosophy broadly conceived is a vital disciple for Christians.
Such philosophy does not in any way conflict with being biblical. Biblical theology will drive you to see the world around us more clearly. Creation, God’s handiwork, is here for our sake.
The Bible tells us how God created and how the Logos came into that creation to recreate it. Till the curse is gone, it will never be what it is supposed to be, though it still is.
We live in a cosmic story of two cities. But Christians are citizens of heaven, not of earth. So our pursuit of beauty and meaning and culture here has only a proximate end. Yet it still remains vitally important for life. Why life without beauty today by choice?
So do good to every person and owe nothing to one another but love. Then wait for that vision of God that he has promised. It’s a rest from your labours.
The idea of creation care should play an important role in our Christian life. God saves us because he loves what he creates. How can we not love what he created also whether that means our neighbours or the night sky or the land on which we live?
The cultivation of God’s good gifts whether through art, agriculture, horticulture, and much else then allow us to experience God’s goodness in creation. These experiences terminate in proximate ends since God will recreate the cosmos.
Yet just as supporting our family today matters, even though we are adopted into the family of God, so cultivating creation matters even though the new creation is coming.
The problem arises when the two become mixed so that creation care becomes eschatologically present. What we take with us to the next life only includes our virtues, our relationships, and our promises. It does not include barns nor gold.
In other words, whatever we cultivate on this earth has the effect of making us better (more appreciative of beauty) and others better (they appreciate the same beauty). This appreciation will carry on into eternity. But the particular piece of art will not.
I think this ordering shows us something important about how we hold on to what is material and how we conceive of what persists into eternity. It orders priorities.
So do care for creation because it leads us to eudaimonia when done virtuously, but remember that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20). Therefore, focus on what matters and persists into eternity.
Rob Marshall says
Your title caught my eye after looking at another of your posts (the union with Christ one). I write on similar themes regarding creation and beauty. It really resonated with me. It was good to be introduced to two new words one in particular that sums up well some of my thinking at present – the condition of human florishing or living well (eudaimonia). Thank you for writing so well.
I am also encouraged to see that you have a donation button on your page. I have just today put the same option on my website ; )
Thanks, Rob. Yes, I added the giving option recently. I think it’s not demanding and lets someone give if they want to. Glad you enjoyed the article(s).