By Phil Stokes
As a child I read ‘The Magicians Nephew’ by CS Lewis. For the uninitiated, the story tells of how Aslan, the Great Lion, the Son of the Emperor Over the Seas, created the land of Narnia. He does so by singing it into existence. He walks across a dark and barren landscape singing as he comes. Those who witness it realise that every beautiful note and chorus in someway corresponds to stars suddenly appearing in the black sky, grass springing up underfoot, trees and plants and birds and animals emerging from the ground, or rivers and waterfalls bursting forth. This scene was beautifully and forever burned into my imagination well before I read the creation story in Genesis, and so I simply overlaid these images as I read the relevant parts of scripture. Aslan then goes on to charge the talking animals with responsibility to take care of this beautiful new land that he has just created, warning them not to return to dumb and witless ways, or they would lose the power of speech become ordinary animals again.
Creation Care is fast becoming a buzzword in Christian circles. I feel it is well overdue. Our call and charge is to nurture the beautiful and deeply woven ecosystem that God has placed us in; this garden whose wellbeing is directly related to our own. He holds us accountable for how we discharge this responsibility. (Plus, just because Im a science and sci-fi freak, if we can’t look after our own home why should God release us to explore / colonise the rest of universe?) Through this simple story CS Lewis did a fine job of embedding a call and sense of responsibility within me. I have had to rediscover this value afresh in recent years, realising how lazy one can become about the nature of our relationship with creation. I was happy to appreciate it and take from it without seeking ways to actively nurture it. Julie however is an active gardener and in an earlier blog I wrote briefly of her involvement in our local park and what it led to. (You can read it here).
For a number of years I have taught people about 3 deep relationships that Jesus’ models to us: His relationship with his Father (UP), his relationship with his disciples (IN) and his relationship with the crowds; the last, the least, and the lost (OUT). The rhythm of Jesus’ time in the gospels reveals these priorities and relationships as he seeks to mentor his disciples. Jesus wants us to grow in the Up IN and OUT dimensions, deeper love and intimacy with our Father, deeper relationships with one another, and a clear and growing call to mission and service. The visual shape that many have adopted to share this teaching is a triangle.
Given the importance of this fourth dimension, I want to introduce to you the Simplex. A simplex is a lesser known geometric shape that is a triangle with four dimensions. (see below). The fourth dimension of our being and wellbeing is that we are creatures of this earth who are also sons of heaven. At the dawn of creation we, (just like the talking animals in The Magicians Nephew) were given charge of the earth. We are told to be fruitful, to multiply and fill the earth; to subdue it and to rule over it. Just as with other commands where Gods language is one of loving nurture and care, we have somehow managed to mangle the command, imbuing it with violence and a justification for selfish exploitation.
Recovering the root meanings of the words used in Genesis is an essential theological journey but sadly one I don’t have time for here, but I do encourage you to engage in. I am simply stating for accountability that through use of the Simplex I am covenanting to make the command to grow our relationship OVER creation a fourth and utterly essential dimension of my future discipleship teaching.