by Alexei Laushkin
My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them (John 14:23)
The Trinity has something very profound to teach us about relationships. Have you ever thought about that? Ever been on the same page with someone so much so, where there is so much love, care, deference, trust, dependence, that you can act in concert together? Sometimes we see this in a particular friendship, certainly it’s how marriage was designed. When we live into these possibilities as Christians we are experiencing a reflection of the Trinity itself, and as the verse from the Gospel of John states we are invited to do so as we grow in our love and trust of the God who comes to heal and to save.
Can you imagine just for a moment when Jesus went away to pray during his ministry what things He, and the Father, and the Holy Spirit talked about. Knowing the problem of the separation between God and man so well, knowing the history of God’s people so well, knowing their rescue out of Egypt, their wanderings in the wilderness, their rejection of the prophets, can you imagine the creativity, the love, and intimacy that marked their fellowship as they discussed and discerned what to say, what to embody, how to set us on a new path of new life and new creation.
Let’s remember that Jesus said that his words were the words the Father gave him to say. Sometimes in the gospels we get visual manifestations of the Trinity in relationship, as in the Baptism of Jesus, or on the Mount of Transfiguration, but those realities were all present to our Lord Jesus.
Healing and full fellowship. That’s the aim of the Trinity for us. My thoughts go to love and peace, life and contentment, or in other words the glory to glory of sanctification as I continue to reflect on ‘Laudato Si.‘
Here’s what I believe is one of the central points to ‘Laudato Si’ which is about the environment, but it’s as much about us, human nature, the challenges facing the church, and the grave challenges facing humanity:
The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation (48)
The causes aren’t just structural they are internal. Both St. Francis of Assisi and St. Sergius of Radonezh experienced a profound healing in their relationship with mankind, with God, and God’s creation. As Orthodox and Catholic commentators will say, they both experienced some return to the original state with God with some earthly manifestation of that reality. That’s incredible! A healing and love and intimacy so profound between God and man, in relationships that they had with other people, that it inevitably spilled over to the relationship with God’s creation.
Charles Spurgeon says something very similar on reflecting on these dynamics. He says when we look at why there is so much enmity between man and creation that really what we are seeing is God’s creatures take up their masters quarrel with us.
Well if we have ceased to quarrel with the master, if we have ceased to quarrel with each other, then naturally God’s creation will cease quarreling with us.
As many of you know, I was recently at the Vatican for several different reasons. During my trip I had up to 5 meetings with various senior officials.
A bit of background. Evangelicals have long exercised a degree of leadership on climate change and the environment. Also the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has done much to bring leadership and the full richness of Orthodox thought to our contemporary environmental challenges. I have many friends and colleagues who have done the same in the Roman Catholic world. Now the Papal encyclical offers fresh and compelling leadership. The encyclical itself opens the door for dialogue and action.
This is a unique time to build our heart muscles with each other. As Christians divided by human nature and sin, we have a unique opportunity for new dialogue and encounter. Who knows what God will do with these fruits? We do know that they can be in accord with the profound prayer for unity found in John 17.
Alexei Laushkin is the Vice-President of the Evangelical Environmental Network.