The older I get, the more I’m beginning to classify myself as a tree hugger. Why? Because the kingdom of heaven is here, on earth – and you and I have been given the responsibility to take care of it.
Sometime in the future, I’ll venture into another theory about why taking care of the earth might be more advantageous to you and me than we think. But that will take more time and explanation than I have here. The bottom line is this: the kingdom of heaven is our home—now—on this earth, and we need to take better care of it.
Trees offer us, not only the breath of life (O2), nutrition (fruit), and shelter to protect us, the way they live provides a constant source of wisdom. Have you ever seen one tree fight another? Have you ever seen a tree repay “an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth”? No. Trees accept the pain and abuse of the world without repaying evil with evil. They follow the teaching of Jesus – they continually repay evil with good. To raze the earth of these precious and life-giving life forms as if they have little value to humanity is to ignore the ecological harmony and balance they foster. They provide the example of Jesus himself: unconditional giving in love.
Pastor Nancy Kraft has an outstanding way with words. That’s why I read her blog regularly. She was invited to give a Sunday message on April 27, 2014 to the Myers Park Baptist Church, a very large, prestigious, progressive church in Charlotte, NC. They asked her to focus on why we should be taking better care of the earth. She did a masterful job of expressing her thoughts about the kingdom of heaven as our home in the present day. It’s worth your time to read it here: http://insidenancysnoodle.blogspot.com/.
Last month I asked Nancy if she would be willing to read and review my upcoming book, In Living Color:Heaven (to be released on Amazon May 12). This is what she wrote:
“As a student of the Scriptures and one who has preached many times on the texts Paul Meier explores, I had more “Aha!” moments that I could count while reading his book. I especially appreciate the way Meier often returns to the Aramaic source, particularly when considering the sayings of Jesus himself. All that being said, this scholarly work is highly accessible to non-scholarly readers, too. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know what Jesus really had to say about heaven. You will be surprised.”
– Rev. Nancy Kraft, PhD, Religion and Education, and Lutheran pastor
My hope in writing this book is that you will recognize that Jesus was describing the kingdom of heaven as a present day reality. Living in harmony with the earth and with respect for the earth (as well as each other) is the design of creation.
If we cannot respect the beauty and perfection of God’s incredible creation, maiming and obliterating it at will, how will we ever begin to respect the beauty and wonder of each creature living on the earth — each created in the image of God and with God dwelling within them?
Taking care of the earth begins with you and me. Start caring for it today. Go ahead. Hug a tree. You might be surprised how it will respond to your touch.