Surfing in the Presence of God
For me, environmental action is defensible for the Christian not solely because, as described in Genesis 1 and 2, God created the heavens and the earth and entrusted them to Adam (a matter largely pertinent to God and not Adam), but because, as Paul explains in Romans, creation is one of God's primary tools of self-revelation and thereby human regeneration. For this reason, while the sustaining of the world remains a matter securely within God's sovereign control, it would nonetheless be a horrible indignity if mankind, through our selfish consumption of God's creation, obscured and destroyed the very same. How sad it would be if God's creative reflection were soiled such that generations to come were left with a continually degraded source of divine revelation.
At CSUS, we have the privilege of actually doing ministry in and with God's creation. Our mission is to see Christians who surf move from apathy about lost surfers around them, to awareness that they have been called by God to reach out, to active expressions of that call.
Our primary tool for reaching the two to three million lost surfers in America is in fact God's creation. Surfers are connected to the ocean and have a particularly dependent relationship with it. We spend the majority of our waking hours considering the waves, tracking tides and swells, and thinking about swell direction and ocean bottom contour.
Our job at CSUS is to help surfers see God through that connection and transform their relationship with creation into a relationship with the Creator. It is not hard to explain creative energy to a surfer when he has glided across the face of a perfect six-foot wave. It is not hard to explain divine power when he has seen the force of a 25-foot wave breaking on a reef. It is not hard to discuss beauty when he has enjoyed a view of the sunrise from the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Pragmatically speaking, our job gets harder when sewage spills close our beaches, when man-made construction ruins surf breaks, or when anything obscures God's revelation of himself in the power and majesty of the ocean. We depend on the ocean to do the work that Romans 1:19-20 speaks of -- to point a surfer to God.
Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Romans, refers to creation as the "means and helps" mankind is given by God to come to the knowledge of Him. He notes that "The workman is known by his work. The variety, multitude, order, beauty, harmony, different nature, and excellent contrivance of the things that are made, the direction of them to certain ends, and the concurrence of all the parts to the good and beauty of the whole, do abundantly prove a Creator and his eternal power and Godhead."
Perhaps you have a special connection with creation that has made abundantly clear the eternal power and majesty of the Creator. Maybe it is in the mountains, where you enjoy the still of a freshly fallen snow. It could be in the beauty of a sunrise over a plain of wildflowers, or in the calm morning mist on a lake. Perhaps it is in the movement of a stream or river. Whatever place creation holds in your life, consider the place it holds in the life of an unbeliever and the importance God has placed on it within the meaning of Romans 1.
My desire in the coming years is to take my children out in the ocean for an evening glass-off, to share the love of God with them as we enjoy that splendid moment when the sun touches the water and transforms it and us. For me, it is worth defending the environment for that moment and the chance for my children to see God's revelation in it. Maybe I am an environmentalist after all.
Christian Buckley is a writer, businessman, and lawyer. He is the founder of Covered Images, and minister through thinkmoretruth.com. He holds a J.D. from UCLA and a B.A. in History from the University of California, Irvine. He lives in San Diego with his wife Bridget and two children, Maeve and Brendan. His book, Humanitarian Jesus, is forthcoming in May from Moody Publishers.
This article originally appeared in Creation Care Magazine, and is republished with the permission of the author.