What would Jesus do? Here’s what I know:
- Jesus was on the creation team! He made the world. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” John 1:3
- Creation has His constant attention. He “sustains all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3)
- Creation is His inheritance. “By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end.” (Hebrews 1:2)
- Creation will be redeemed. “The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead” (Romans 8:19-21) —This is The Message but check it out in your own translation and you’ll find the very same teaching.
So the physical world, all of it, is extraordinarily important to Jesus. But here are some more parts of the puzzle:
- Jesus was a carpenter’s son. He certainly must have cut down trees and used them for human purposes. (Mark 6:3)
- Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple, not for selling animals for sacrifice, but for doing business in God’s house. (John 2:14ff)
- Jesus was not a vegetarian! He ate the Passover lamb each year and he ate fish on at least two occasions. (Luke 2:41, Matthew 26; John 21)
- Jesus helped his disciples catch fish! (John 21)
- Jesus cursed a fig tree and killed it because it should have had fruit, but didn’t (Matthew 21 and Mark 11).
- Jesus allowed, even praised the use of nard as a libation for his glory (John 12:3). Nard is from a rare flowering plant in India and China.
- Jesus rode on a donkey (Matthew 21)for his own purposes. But he also assumed that if an ox was stuck in a ditch, good people would try to get it out (Luke 14).
From what I understand, Jesus treasures all creation enough to redeem it with his blood. Jesus created all life, but only put his breath and his image into people. So I believe that while there is temporal overlap, a qualitative difference does exist between organic life and human life.
Jesus appears to have used the natural world for his purposes, even holding it accountable when it did failed to serve him well (fig tree incident). So I don’t think Jesus believes that people are just another element of creation, but rather that we were given the physical world to use—for God’s glory, not for ours.
Jesus would not abuse His creation, His inheritance. He would not destroy creation’s glory for self-gratification, for greed, for power, or for lust. He did nothing for these reasons. He used the physical world for His glory!
Would Jesus be an eco-terrorist? No! Would He believe that animal rights and human rights should be the same? No. Would he be concerned about global warming or ivory poaching? He would be concerned about abuse of His inheritance wherever it was happening!
So, I think my final answer is: As Jesus did, we should love the creation and use it for God’s purposes and God’s glory.
Does that work for you?