Sustainability–Here and Hereafter

Phyllis Nissila


Sustainability,” as in environmental management, is The Cause of the day. We have mucked things up pretty good on our planetary home and it’s time to correct, if we can. On our campus, we’ve been “going green” for some time, now.


We have a recycling system that has greatly reduced the negative impact of garbage on the grounds.


Inside, recycle stations with repositories for trash, cans and bottles, and paper/cardboard discards help keep classrooms and hallways clear.


Departments count paper and paper clips carefully and employees are encouraged to keep information in the “virtual cloud” instead of stacking reams of hard copy in crowded storage units.


We even have a building with several “green offices” for employees who suffer from allergies to perfumes and other chemicals added to everything from carpets to shampoo.


Much effort has gone into the overall project for quite some time, but the rewards are evident and contribute to everyone’s well-being.



This leads me to thinking about another kind of sustainability.


When it comes to following the “spiritual sustainability manual,” the Scriptures, if you will, some say we should be able to “do our own thing,” toss aide antiquated moral codes for dogmas du jour.


But, like ignoring the manuals for preserving the material realm, is this “spiritually “sustainable”? Consider:


In the physical world, God set an ecosystem in motion that despite frequent mismanagement by the human element, still ticks.


Trees and birds and cattle still propagate after their own kind, oceans ebb and flow on sandy shores, and people, the creatures with the highest level thinking skills (but sometimes lowest level applications) continuously try to change what they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell, mostly for good, but sometimes, not.


For example, through human industry that beach sand can become eye glasses, windows, and champagne flutes or material to sharpen weapons and blow things up.


But back to “spiritual sustainability.”


Just as there are immutable “material laws” that help us preserve flora and fauna, campus and farmlands (and remember the old ad campaign that suggested we’d better not fool with Mother Nature?) the power to choose wise stewardship or foolish exploitation, good or evil, was given us in the spiritual realm, too.


And it’s not a good idea to mess with that, either.


Think about love, for example, the spiritual force thought to power everything (for evil seeks only destruction), the kind of love, that is, that sustains through good and bad, thrills and spills, health and sickness.


And think of how some abuse it.


But better yet, think of love of a higher order altogether, a power that caused the One Who designed both the tangible and the intangible and Who gave us the free will to choose both material and spiritual “sustainability” even though He knew full well all of our choices would not be for good.


Think of how He set in motion the visible world that speaks of beginnings and ends, of good propagation techniques and destructive practices, a physical “metaphor,” as I often think of creation, that illustrates how to thwart and how to sustain both the seen and the unseen although He knows it is also impossible to achieve perfection in either realm.


Not only that, think of a love that knows we can’t achieve perfection, in the end, given our challenges and limitations; we cannot, ultimately, perfectly, please either Mother Nature—or Father God.


And yet, He lets us choose.


Of our own free will.


Knowing full well.




Or, could there be some other plan, here? Something else in the works by the One who designed even love?





After providing the instruction manual, as it were, of “spiritual sustainability,” His Word in the text, God also sent His Word “in the Flesh,” Jesus, as the solution to the damage done to both worlds.


As the only “perfect One” Jesus was also able to pay the complete “price” for the damage by donning not only the flesh of man, but the sins of man, that day, on the cross, to suffer the price we owe—in our stead—for damages rendered.


To the literal last drop of his blood.


The Perfect One—Indeed, God’s own Son—paid the perfect price. But not for Himself, for there was no need.


For us.


Jesus Christ gave His eye for our eye, His tooth for our tooth, figuratively and literally, so that when one day we stand accountable for our choices He, our advocate, Who sits at the Father’s right hand, will say of us: “Account paid in full.”


By putting our faith in Him we can anticipate spiritual “sustainability” in that place where rust, worm, moth, heartache, and tears are no more in a life “re-purposed” if you will, through Christ Jesus.


What a plan…


WHAT a plan.


But why, after we have done such damage “down here”? Some ask.


We don’t deserve it, say others.




But that’s Who made us; that’s Who loves us.


As St. John put it: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (chapter 3, verse 15).


And that is the cause not just of the day but of eternity.



This post, in part, is the product of years of pondering the answer to the riddles in the old Peter Paul and Mary tune, “The Wedding Song,” featured below. Paul Stookey, who wrote it, said once that he felt the lyrics were Holy Spirit inspired. As time goes by, I grow deeper into the meaning.


The “reason for becoming man and wife,” that which both “brings you here and brings you life,” all “the loving “ and “the giving” are answered in this word: love.


Love is the reason for both the genesis and the generations, the source and the sustaining.


It is that which comes at “the calling of your hearts.”


It is that which causes two to leave mother and home and travel together to where they “shall be as one.”


It is that which gives life and that which gives life back.


And love is the cause of the “union of your (our) spirits” both “here” and “there,” both bride and bridegroom at the altar and, one day, the Bride of Christ and Christ, Himself, at the Wedding Supper of The Lamb.


But perhaps the most important line is, “Do you believe in something that you’ve never seen before?”


And The Troubadour whispers,”Would you?”


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2 Responses to Sustainability–Here and Hereafter

  1. Cathy says:

    Hey P,
    As far, as I am concerned, “There is NO Mother Nature” and Only “Father God!”
    Sure, we are to tend His Creation, and that is why, we have been given “Dominion ” over it….to be STEWARDS! Have to watch out 4 Pantheism ( Tree Hugging! 🙂
    We MUST always Love the CREATOR, instead of the CREATION
    What a God/ Father we have!
    God is Love, to save us,… impute his Righteousness on us…so that we may have Everlasting Life!
    By Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, In Christ Alone!


    • pnissila says:

      HI, Cathy 🙂

      Yes, only Father God…Mother Nature meant as a metaphor/illustration, and yet there is both a “new earth” along with the “new heavens” to look forward to, in whatever sense God means it ;).

      Hoping all is well at your house!


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