Would you be surprised if I tell you that centuries before our time, the poet of psalm 148 had already raised the issues of social and ecological responsibility? In bringing our awareness to the environment, the psalmist grounds it on creation’s relationship to her Creator. Simply put, the psalmist views this world as belonging to God, not to human beings alone. In fact, God takes pleasure in and loves His creation in all its marvellous, beautiful, intricate and interconnected variety. Thus, according to Psalm 148, God will be praised by nothing short of a cosmic congregation consisting not only of people but also of all creatures and all inanimate features of creation.
In this universal symphony of praise, there is a tacit acknowledgement of the equality of all constituents that make up the whole creation. Thus all creation is call to praise God and to show forth His glory with greater clarity. However, nature’s praise was muted or distorted by the ways humankind have exploited, polluted and destroyed Nature’s resources, all in the name of progress and development for whatever human benefits and reasons. Indeed, the current environmental crisis is receiving tremendous attention today in the scientific world, the media, and the business community - and rightfully so!
However, for believers, we are called to care for the entire earth in all its features not for our sakes, but for God’s sake. This is where Christians have distinguished ourselves with the world’s “go green” campaigners.
What the world needs is precisely what Psalm 148 calls us to do: recognize God’s sovereign claim upon the universe which in essence is both a worshipful act as well as a lifestyle. Praise in worship involves our conviction that God, not us, rules the world. Praise as a lifestyle involves living out what we affirm in worship – that is, living in such a way that acknowledges and preserves the value and integrity of all people, all animate and inanimate creation.
While one of the primary concerns of Psalm 148 for today may be ecology, it has another equally important concern, namely, the interdependence and interconnectedness of human community. If we believe in the inherent equality of all humanity, then we must show our solidarity with our community by lovingly caring for the poor, the unemployed, the marginalized, the weak and homeless or simply by a healthy sense of neighbourliness and community. In this way, the solution to the present human crisis begins with our faithful response to the invitation of Psalm 148, “Praise the LORD!” It is because of this conviction, as Christians, we must engage the world through the caring of our environment and the good work of social enterprise for our community.
Rev. Mark Tay