Christians have many thoughts on the creation of the world and the nature of the world. Old earth, young earth, and everything in between. Those differences are generally based on methods of interpretation, and how folks deal with various forms of natural knowledge. By natural knowledge I mean all non-revealed knowledge. There are, however, basic philosophical concepts that I believe all Christ followers can agree upon. For instance, creation was almost certainly made apart from God. If not, we would find it very difficult to understand why God needed a separate dwelling place within his creation.
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8 – 9 ESV
Eden was of course man’s initial home as well. We are also alerted to the intentionality of this initial separation through the construction of the Jewish tabernacle, the temple, and through the apostle’s descriptions of our current bodily dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. This new dwelling place mimics its predecessors. If creation was not made apart from God, there would be no known need for him to create a separate dwelling place.
Eden also happened to be created before the fall, so there is an immediate separation between the breadth of creation, and Eden even before the existence of sin in the world. I find that most American Christians seem to equate God’s separation from creation with the fall. It is only really obvious, however, that the fall initiated God separation from humans. So, from an evolutionary standpoint, why did death exist before the fall and how did it exist without sin? What did God mean by “and God saw that it was good.” I won’t delve into much of the nature of early creation here. I don’t think it’s particularly relevant because for our purposes we can safely ascertain that there is a disunion between what God is and what is natural (creation). God created a universe that exists on its own, and apart from him. We can’t know God’s rationale here, but God’s loving nature is bound and determined to maximize the amount of love that exists in the cosmos, and that is very relevant.
On the subject of the nature of the natural. Charles Darwin said in The Origin of Species, that Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends. By definition, what is natural is selfish because it’s existence is centered on its own preservation. I don’t mean this to discount the beauty of the circle of life, but it is not the same as love. Love is how God plans on bringing his beautiful creation to perfection. A tree for instance spends its entire life soaking in the sun, water, and nutrients needed to grow. It will not limit this intake unless an outside force prevents it from doing so. It does not sacrifice its own nutrient intake for that of its neighboring trees. Perhaps you can see where I’m headed.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:7-12 KJV
God’s nature is very much different than that of the natural world. God IS love. The description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is in fact the complete opposite of the nature of the natural. Christ’s death on the cross is our best evidence of the total sacrificial nature of love. Returning to the tree example, if the tree was self sacrificial it would give its own life to allow its neighboring trees to thrive. I want to emphasize this point because it’s going to be the basis for Christian conduct as I see it. What is natural, that is how the world functions without love, cannot be included in God’s commands for his children. Please don’t confuse this with me saying what is natural is evil. No, what is natural can in fact be “good”, but it is not love. Love can change the natural.
These various definitions are important in understanding our own post fall, human role in God’s complete plan of love. Most are likely familiar with the great commission, but many seem to gloss over the very end. “…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20. Thankfully, Jesus summed up his commands very simply, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Matt 12:30-31 KJV So as God’s children we are not to live selfishly, but instead to live self sacrificially, loving others. What God is telling us in these verses is that all morality flows through the lens of self sacrificial love. Unlike the Pharisees who flaunted their moral accomplishments because they were not viewing their works in love. God isn’t looking for a human morality trophy, what he wants is for us to do for each other what he did and does for us.