Almost two thousand years ago, the resurrected Christ appointed His disciples to become Apostles, that is, messengers. His commission to them—the Great Commission—as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, reads:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”
The Gospel of Matthew provides perhaps a more understandable version of the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” But Mark says, to preach the Gospel to the whole creation. The Greek word, “ktisis,” literally means “creature” or “creation.” How does one preach to all creatures, to the whole creation?
Christ’s messengers over the centuries have done their best to bring the Gospel to all creatures, to the whole creation. To bring the Gospel to the human part of the Creation took centuries, especially since the messengers did not know of the Americas until the end of the fifteenth century. To bring the message to the other part of Creation, Nature, was of course a bit of a problem. But the messengers assumed that by the Creation Christ meant that the messengers must be students of natural history, that is, scientists as well as theologians. The Great Commission therefore required messengers who were willing to travel, explore, discover, and engage in scientific study. Indeed, such was the commitment of the messengers to the Great Commission that their activities on its behalf has had a tremendously powerful influence on exploration, science, discovery, and settlement from the fifteenth century to the present.
One way to preach to the whole creation is by example. The example of preserving the sanctity of life. If I respect life in all its forms, and refuse to abuse it, and use it only as a means of survival, which all forms of life do, and not waste anything, and I am doing this because of the love of Christ, the love of the Word and believe that through him all things came to be, then I am by example preaching to the whole creation, or spreading a message of love to the whole creation.
I wonder, were the messengers who came into Oklahoma preaching the Gospel spreading a message of love to the whole creation? When Almon Bacone came to Oklahoma and founded Indian University, was that his aim? His most famous words, carved onto the southeast corner of the Bacone College Chapel were: “A Christian school planted in the midst of a people, becomes one of the most powerful agencies in the work of civilization.”
If we take him at his words, then, he said and claimed that to educate people in Christianity and all those subjects that make a Christian, such as the liberal arts, is to contribute to civilization, to the creation.
Higher education, any kind of education, has to be of this sort: to help people learn about the creation, and how to care for and preserve it. We must learn about, care for, preserve, and love all that God has made, the Earth and the Universe, all forms of life, including each other.