In the beginning, God created the ecosystem.
He made all things to fit together so that not a single aspect of creation loses out. It’s described in Psalm 104:
He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever….
He sends forth springs in the valleys; They flow between the mountains;
They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; They lift up their voices among the branches.
He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.
He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
And wine which makes man's heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man's heart.
The trees of the LORD drink their fill, The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
Where the birds build their nests, And the stork, whose home is the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats; The cliffs are a refuge for the wild goats.
He made the moon for the seasons; The sun knows the place of its setting.
You appoint darkness and it becomes night, In which all the beasts of the forest prowl about.
The young lions roar after their prey And seek their food from God.
When the sun rises they withdraw And lie down in their dens.
Man goes forth to his work And to his labor until evening.
O LORD, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all!
(Psalm 104:5, 10-24)
The earth is one large community, working together to meet each other’s needs. And human beings play an essential role. Human beings are supposed to be the fail-safe, the fix-it-guys, and they were supposed to improve on creation, filling it with creations of their own. Mind you, humans couldn’t do it on their own. They needed God’s guidance and power to make it happen. But it was a good plan.
A community which is self-sustaining and meets the needs of all parts within it, both survival needs and social and security needs is a community of peace, it is Shalom. God’s initial plan was for the world to have perpetual Shalom, and human beings were essential for that plan.
Of course, we know that this plan wasn’t fulfilled.
Mind you, humanity didn’t mess everything up, just enough for the whole planet to become ill, and every creature within it, including humanity, to be in a perpetual state of crisis. Because we don’t really know what peace is, or how to achieve it. We need God’s wisdom and power.
Okay, let’s do a huge fast forward. To the end. If creation is the initial act of God, let’s see what the final peacemaking act of God is, how he completes his creation and what that says about humanity.
At the very end, there is judgment.
No, that’s not fun to talk about. Sorry. No matter how anyone thinks it pans out, it involves separating humanity one from another, some will be a part of the ongoing process of maintaining creation and others will… not. Or maybe they’ll get fixed, that’s not my place to say right now.
What I’m more interested is how humanity will be divided from each other. How does God choose the good group from the bad? The answer in the Bible is strangely uniform. With all the differences in Scripture and the different wording and the different ideas, how humanity is judged is determined by one phrase used quite frequently:
Psalm 28:4—Requite them according to their deeds…
Proverbs 12:14—The deeds of a man hands will return to him.
Isaiah 59:18—According to their deeds, the Lord will repay.
Jeremiah 17:10—I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.
Jeremiah 32:18-19—The Lord of Hosts… gives everyone according to their ways; every man according to the fruit of his deeds.
Ezekiel 18:26-27—When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and dies because of it, for his iniquity which he has committed he will die. Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life.
Hosea 12:2—He will repay them according to their deeds.
Jonah 3:10—When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them.
Matthew 16:27—The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay each according to his deeds.
John 5:28-29— An hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
II Corinthians 5:10—We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Revelation 20:12-13—And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
In the end, it isn’t how much a person believes, or how well they did on their doctrine, or what a great relationship they had with God… when the final test comes up, it all has to do with what we do. The kind of actions matter as well. For Jesus and the rest of the New Testament, it’s clear that if we are going to pass this final test, we have to do acts of kindness, helping the needy, supporting those who are in the greatest need.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. Luke 6:36-38
So I said all that to tell you this.
I know what the purpose of humanity is. And it is revealed in God’s first and last acts in the human story. First of all, we are to create peace on earth. We aren’t to wait for God to do it for us, we have to do it ourselves. And secondly, we are to create peace by means of doing great acts of support for those in need. It could be we are helping birds in need or puppies or children or homeless people or sick people… but we are to be the kind of people that can’t say “no” to a fellow creature in need. Peace through compassion. That’s what God wants of us.
Yes, God wants us to love Him. No question. Because without God we don’t have the wisdom or the strength to obtain peace or to keep loving. Without God, we get confused about what love really means, mixing it up with our own self-interest.
God is interested in us in propping up the system of peace He originally created and doing this through acts of great love. And He wants to help us do it, which means we need to connect to Him. That’s it. If we can remember this, it will all work out.
Sure, we’ll argue about what peace really looks like and about how to get there. But if we remember the basics—peace means that everyone’s needs are met, whatever those needs are. And the method to peace is through compassion and mercy. If we remember those things, we’ll be okay. We just need to stick to the basics.
And dream really big.