Friday, November 06, 2009

God is Green

Of all the stereotypes that have formed around what it means to be an environmentalist, the one stereotype that I would like to see most closely related with environmental consciousness would be “Christian.” And while the granola-eating, organic, tree-hugging activists with questionable hygiene and bad styles living out on the fringes of society should be applauded for their care of creation, my hope is that one day it is Christians who are most known for their environmental concern.

In the Christian church we often hear about Jesus’ Great Commission to go out into the world preaching the Gospel, baptizing people, and teaching them to obey Scripture. At the very beginning of the Bible, the book that we claim to obey and organize our lives around, comes the First Commission where Creator God commands that we care for and tend the earth. Interestingly, we Christians have been up in arms for years over the creation/evolution debate dumping time, energy, and resources into defending our claim for a Creator God while largely ignoring to care for His creation like He asked. Further, many bridges could be built and many walls broken down when we recognize that, though there is disagreement on the origins of our blue planet, there is wide scale agreement that we must care for it.

Scripture is clear that creation was made for God (Col. 1), by God (Genesis 1-2), and still belongs to God (Psalm 24). Additionally, Romans 1 tells us that God’s glory is revealed to Christian and non-Christian alike through creation, which includes the beauty of Mt. Baker at first light, the quiet gurgling of Clayburn Creek in the summer, and the prominent Cheam range as you drive east on Highway 1. One prominent dead theologian said it this way, “God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” Clearly, Christians should be known for their care of creation.

Thankfully, Christians around the world are beginning to respond to Creator God’s call to tend and care for a planet under siege to pollution, depleting resources, unsustainable development, and gross imbalances of food and water supplies. Every personal, community, and corporate action towards a greener lifestyle does count and is significant no matter how small the action may appear. This call towards an increasingly “green” lifestyle does not, however, come without cost. It will cost your time. It will cost your comfort. It will cost your convenience. It will cost your conscious. It might even cost you some green. The question being, is it worth it?

I think it is.

The Christian church must respond to this call. Environmental concern in not just a popular fad like tie-dye t-shirts or blogging, it is a biblical mandate that can not be ignored. For Christians, we begin by humbly repenting for our part in creation degradation and then actively pursue how to reduce harm, reduce waste, and begin to restore what has been lost. This may mean that churches don’t supply Styrofoam cups for the horrible church coffee that is consumed every Sunday morning or that car pooling and energy efficient structures and methods are in place. Maybe it means that the best parking spots are reserved for hybrid vehicles, that church grounds have community gardens, or that bike locks, lockers, and showers are provided to encourage people to bike, blade, run, or skateboard to church. Creative solutions to creation care will be as unique to the church and individual as anything else. Not everyone or every church can do everything, but everyone doing something will add up. The God we serve is green, why shouldn’t we be also?


Ranger Duke said...

Jeremy, I'm interested in your assertion that the first commission is to care for and tend the Earth. The ESV says
"Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Exponential population growth is often cited as the root cause of environmental (and other) problems in the world. Subduing and having dominion over don't carry the same connotations as tending and caring for, in my vocabulary at least.

I'd be really interested to know what basis you have for representing this commission as one of caring for the creation in the way you imply.

jeremy postal said...

Ranger Duke,
Thanks for reading and commenting. Blogging is mostly alot of people saying alot about nothing that nobody reads.....!

Anyhow, as I read 1:28 I see it as very connected to the immediate preceding section on "image", specifically that man is made in the image of God and explained to us within the context God's creating process.

Human creativity, then, expresses something of the nature of God and man. As on commentator puts it, "In the light of all that we have said about God's image, it is even clearer now that 'dominion' cannot mean exploitation, but must be seen in the sort of facilitating servanthood which maintains an environment in which persons who reflect something of God's nature of love and creativity can be at home. Genesis 1 will soon lead us into Genesis 2, where the meaning of humankind's relationship both with God and with the rest of the created order is spelled out in more intimate details." (Motyer).

Duke, as this was originally a newspaper article I wrote, I wrote more of my conclusions than a systemic linking of 1:28 and 2:15 and of all the theology behind it.

Additionally, my understanding of the fall in Genesis 3 shows of four broken relationships that result due to sin. The relationship between:
1. God and man (theological/spiritual)
2. man and others (relational)
3. man and himself (psychological, emotional)
4. man and the environment

As Christians, we trust and thank Jesus that He ultimately will restore and is restoring all of these broken relationships. Yet, as faithful Christians, we also work towards the reconciling of these relationships as God's spirit is at work within us conforming us to the restored image that we once were.

Regardless of any theological assumptions that I might make, raping, exploiting, and pillaging God's creation is not an effective witness and is counter-active to the gospel at work within our communities that are becoming increasingly green.

As an interesting side note, what do you make of God's assertion in Genesis 1:31 of "very good" when observing His work? Do you think we should respond with a similar attitude? How should we respond to something very good?

Anyhow, my two bits. Thanks for making me do some thinking on the weekend! :)

HearMe2008 said...

I'm blog hopping right now and I came across this post and I think its absolutly amazing!! You make a lot of valid points. Keep up the writing and from one Christian to another, God Bless.

jeremy postal said...

Thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the read...hopefully the article stirs more than just "valid points" and inspires Christians (yourself included) towards a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Have a great day!