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Bible study: climate change

Study Three: Corrupted but Redeemed

In pairs or groups of three discuss:

  • How if at all has my perception of the natural world changed as a result of the first two studies?

  • What have I learned about God’s relationship with the natural world and of my role within it?

  • Share the pictures and other items you have brought with you that illustrate how humankind’s relationship with the rest of creation has been spoiled. Then discuss:

  • What do these items show of the extent and nature of our alienation from the rest of creation? Why do we think this has happened?

Read Genesis 3.17-24: Creation Corrupted

God’s good creation and the harmonious relationship that human beings had with God and with the rest of the created order are radically altered when Adam and Eve leave the garden of Eden. One consequence is that the earth no longer gives up its resources easily. From now on work involves sweat and painful toil. Abundance is replaced by scarcity and the likelihood that some will have insufficient for their needs.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • What is the connection between human rebellion against God and the difficulty we now have in accessing and sharing the earth’s resources?

  • How do we experience work as ‘painful toil’? In what ways does the obtaining of food cause our brows to ‘sweat’?

  • What does this tell us about the difficulties that might be faced by the most vulnerable communities in providing for their needs?

Read Romans 8.18-25: Creation Redeemed

The message of these verses is one of hope, hope that one day all the suffering and frustration we witness and experience within God’s world will be brought to an end.

Paul likens the sufferings of creation to the agonies of childbirth: incredibly painful but ultimately productive. We can only guess at the particular sufferings that Paul had in mind. Perhaps he was thinking of the thorns and thistles that have frustrated all gardeners and farmers since Adam’s first efforts to grow crops (Genesis 3.18, 19).

But clearly he saw something ‘unnatural’ about the natural world that required liberation. He also links the Holy Spirit’s work of saving people (the ‘sons of God’) to the salvation of the rest of creation, which waits in ‘eager expectation’ for the process of salvation to be completed.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • What are some of the ways in which creation ‘groans’ today? What does the image of childbirth tell us about this groaning?

  • How can our efforts help to liberate creation from its ‘bondage to decay’?

  • Paul links our own redemption with the redemption of the rest of creation. What does this tell us about our continuing responsibility for the world and its resources?

Spend a short time responding to what you have discovered, either in silent meditation or in words of praise and prayer.

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