The universe, and particularly our planet, is spectacular. We talked about nature today in church, as a part of a series called, “If Everything Is Spiritual…”. The new pastor, Dustin Hite, was sharing his story about why he loves nature and finds it all to be spiritual. He was subtly funny, at one point quoting “This Land Is Your Land” completely deadpan. I thought it was hilarious, mostly because I have gotten to know Dustin (a little bit) and am learning his sense of humor.
I was then tasked with leading a “Sermon Discussion” class after the service, and to my surprise there were about 15 people in the class. We didn’t really cover anything new, no ground-breaking ideas were shared in the sermon, and still there were people in the class. I opened the class by saying, “I want to cover two things: First, what about creation makes you wonder, and second, what else do you want to discuss?” We spent the next 40 minutes or so just talking about the beauty of creation, how we interact with it, how it points to God, the creation myth/story/allegory, and what makes people wonder.
A woman shared that she has been reading a book on mycology, which is basically a study of fungi and how they impact creation. She talked about how mushrooms are capable of re-generating dead things and bringing new life to dead places. She talked about how these de-composers aren’t just eliminating dead trees, animals, debris, etc., but how they are actually re-generating life through the decomposition. Curious. To learn more about this, watch this very technical/scientific TED talk describing mycology and six ways that mushrooms can save the world.
I began to wonder about God, who created mushrooms that would bring life to dead places. I thought, “Isn’t it just like God (one of the most annoying phrases in all of Christianity) to put into this creation an organism that would re-new it from the inside out?” I thought about how we talk a lot about God’s plan to restore creation. I also thought about how, still, most people who are Christians believe that this very same God is planning to destroy forever all those who don’t become Christians at the second coming of Jesus. A God who saves trees but not humans? I thought about how this contradiction doesn’t, and can’t, make sense.
I wanted to pose the question, which I will pose here: How could God, who has given creation a way in which it can re-new itself when it dies, decide not to do the very same thing for humans? It’s a good question, but it leads people down all sorts of uncomfortable pathways. Because, if God wants to also re-new, redeem, re-generate, and make new humanity, we can’t hold our soteriology (view of salvation) and views on eternity as they currently are. We can’t believe that God cares for dead pine trees in the forest more than he cares about humans, can we?
Does God bring life to dead places?
Does God want to restore creation?
Does God want to redeem mankind?
If God does do and desire these things, what power in heaven, on earth, or under the earth could stop Him?
Is it our responsibility?
Is it a matter of where we were born, or more specifically, what family we were born into that leads us to be able to be saved?
What about Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Animists, Humanists, Capitalists (actually, I’m still not sure Capitalists can be saved)?
Can God, who created mushrooms to save the forest, actually use Jesus to save the world?
Is Jesus God’s mushroom for humanity?
If so, what of heaven and hell?
Do you ask these questions?
So, the kingdom of heaven is like a mushroom. Of all the lowliest created things, the mushroom takes what was once lifeless and creates new life. So it is in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus takes what was once deemed lost, dead, and hopeless and breathes new life into humanity. That’s some food for thought.