The Cosmic Christ
I listened to quite an interesting guest preacher at my church today, a Northern American fellow by the name of Matthew Fox, who was speaking on the subject of “The Cosmic Christ,” derived from the famous hymnal passage from Colossians 1:15-20.
He was speaking, in a nutshell, of the profound truth whereby Christ is found quite literally in all things, and that all things hold together in him. For St. Paul, therefore, one cannot be a Christian without being a mystic, for this is an essentially mystical component of how a person views the relationship between Christ and Creation. Matthew went on to explain that we Christians ought to be among the most concerned about climate change, as it is one of the most (if not the most) pressing issue of our times. Beyond this, if we are meant to have faith in a creation which is inherently divine, why wouldn’t we be concerned?
Because I am summarising, I obviously cannot do justice to Matthew’s sermon, which captivated me the whole way and touched upon many highly important issues. Hopefully if All Hallows produces an online stream of his talk, I’ll be able to link to it from my blog at some point in the future, so you can listen to him for yourselves. One thing I did find notable above all else during his sermon, however, was this: That this whole concept of “Original Sin” wasn’t one known to Jesus, and wasn’t even a Jewish question. The Jewish question is, “Are we all creatures of God?” The defining point then is not original sin, but original blessing, and this resonates with me since it’s something I’ve suspected for some time now. God never said to Abraham “You believe in me, therefore I have spared your worthless life.” Rather, the Bible tells us “You believe me, therefore I have accredited it to you as righteousness.”
Why are we who believe that we are made in the image of God often quick to believe in the same breath that we are utterly and completely worthless? The whole dynamic doesn’t seem to make much sense, and it doesn’t seem to be found in the Bible either:
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
This doesn’t seem to paint a picture of humanity in relation to God in which he finds himself “totally depraved.” (Totally unable to find God of his own accord, perhaps, but not necessarily totally depraved) There is a place for us to be humble, but not a place for us to be hard on ourselves. God is the Liberator, not the condemner (Have you noticed that, Biblically, this is Satan’s job?).
Likewise, why do we forget the beginning of the Biblical narrative, wherein God brings forth His creation into being, and declares it “good?” There is, of course, just cause to say that creation has been put under a curse because of humanity’s sin (lest I be accused of dismissing other portions of Scripture), but what is that sin today? Could environmental negligence be our new sin, which confines creation to the “curse” of global warming?
Our sin doesn’t define who we are, nor does it define the creation around us, it simply taints it, like a smudge on a beautiful masterpiece. The smudge devalues the masterpiece, but it cannot and does not change what lies underneath.
The time is coming, sisters and brothers, when we shall have to ask ourselves important questions on how we are stewarding the creation; when we shall have to appreciate where our vegetables are coming from; when we shall have to understand the difference between how meat is put on our plate now and how it was put on our plate 2000 years ago; when we shall have to acknowledge the consequences of taking two overseas holidays every year; when we shall have to realise we can’t throw our refuse into a landfill and expect it to go away.
We are going to have to do all we can to remove the smudge we have placed, not just on ourselves, but also on a beautiful creation. Remember, the Bible says that the creation is decaying, but it never says we are supposed to contribute to that!
Meditating on this has also given me some preliminary thoughts on the whole paradigm of atonement and the “penal substitution” doctrine. More on that for a later post, watch this space…