Walking a Tightrope
A few weeks ago I, along with millions of other people, watched on television as a high-wire artist named Nik Wallenda walked a tightrope stretched across Niagara Falls. Even though he was tethered to the wire (against his will), it was a remarkable feat. A person has to have incredible balance to do something like this.
Good balance is also required when it comes to God and nature. I was reminded of this recently while looking through a book I read years ago by James A. Nash called Loving Nature: Ecological Integrity and Christian Responsibility. In this book Nash writes: “The Christian faith dedivinizes but also sacralizes nature. No element of the biophysical world is divine; nothing in nature, therefore, is to be worshiped. But all creatures and things are to be treated as sacred subjects and objects, used reverently and respectfully insofar as necessary, and otherwise to be left untouched.”
We live in a time when many people have trouble keeping their balance in these areas. There are, indeed, some who seem to worship nature instead of the Creator. This is nothing new. People from the earliest times have been moved by both awe and fear to worship what they see in nature. For those not familiar with the biblical revelation this is understandable. However, those who are familiar with the Scriptures should know that behind nature there is the Author of Creation and it is God alone who is worthy of our worship. In the first of the Ten Commandments God stated, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3)
On the other side of our high-wire are those who do not recognize that nature, though not divine, is holy or sacred. These people draw a line between the sacred and the secular that does not exist and there are many pitfalls that come from such a view. One is such people will likely fail to experience God through His “other book.” If you do not live in the recognition that God may be experienced and known through what He has made, you will miss countless opportunities to experience and worship God. Another pitfall is such people are not likely to care for nature or the earth in a way that honors it as God’s good gift and source of revelation. I cannot help but believe that many of the environmental problems we face today could have been avoided, or certainly lessened, if we viewed the earth as holy and sacred.
To worship nature instead of God is wrong. To fail to recognize the sacredness of Creation is likewise wrong. We must each find a healthy balance to walk between these two extremes. In many ways, both spiritually and physically, our lives are dependent on learning to keep our balance on this tightrope called life.
(I took the top image at Red River Gorge in Kentucky, the middle image at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in California, and the bottom image at Coyote Buttes in Arizona.)