By Alexei Laushkin
“Go and Make Disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit. ” These words of Jesus seem straight forward enough, and to many Christians this going out and making Him known is a cornerstone of faith. In America today we might as well substitute nations for cultures or people groups; we live in a country of many nationalities.
One of these people groups is the environmental community. Maybe reading environmental makes you a bit uncomfortable perhaps not. Make disciples of all people. Creation Care is much more prominent in the church today but why have we stopped short of the next step? Building the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven for millions of American environmentalists, many who have been burned by their encounters with the faithful.
All of us on staff at EEN can tell you the stories. I’m at a National Geographic Event and a participant comes running over to me introduces himself and we spend the next 40 minutes talking about his dad who was a Southern Baptist pastor who could not approve of his vocation and so eventually cut him off from the family, or the Christian environmentalist who is embarrassed to tell his/her colleagues of their deep faith in Christ because they are not sure where to take their colleagues to church should they come to the faith.
How far are you willing to bend for the gospel?
What stops us from going thus far and no farther when it comes to reaching out to the environmental community? Francis Schaffer in his book Pollution and the Death of Man exhorts us that if we have an hour to talk to anybody about the faith spend the first half hour talking about creation, the great middleman, that endless testament to the Creator himself.
I can imagine some of us don’t open up to others because we don’t know that much about the environment. We look outside our window and go, yeah what beautiful trees, what a nice bush. But do we know what type of thing we are even looking at? A former colleague of mine would always take me to task for not knowing the names of local birds and truth be told I should have been embarrassed. I can’t very well reach out to birders if I am pretty much ignorant. It’s not enough to build a relationship over I like pretty things too, you need to know a little bit more about the communities you’re engaging.
After a few months exploring and living out my value for local foods I can now have a pretty coherent discussion about where our foods come from. But I had to start by consulting a few classic environmental texts. The Consumer Choices Guide to Buying put out by the Union of Concerned Scientists. At least I didn’t have to go into a book store or even worse bring the book out to my small group for show and tell. But yes it may mean going into the science section of your book store and picking up a few books.
Living out biblical creation care
Beyond getting over some of our understandable cultural hang ups we need to understand why we care for God’s creation. Sounds basic enough, but you get to know your scripture. At the very least you need to be able to given an apologia (a defense) for God’s relationship to the creation.
A great place to start is to check out our Creation Care Book Store and pick up a few books like Ed Brown’s Our Father’s World, Katharine Hayhoe’s A Climate for Change¸ Jim Ball’s Global Warming & The Risen Lord, Ben Lowe’s Green Revolution, Jonathan Merritt’s God’s Plan for the World¸ and/or Cal Dewitt’s Earth Wise. All of these book layout a basic biblical frame and narrative for a Christian view on creation.
Just to recap God made the world, called it good, blessed it to flourish, and asked us to use our creative talents to steward and maintain it. We introduced sin into the world. We fell. The creation was cursed because of us. Man’s days were shortened; chaos and disorder were introduced into the Creation. Creation did not lose its’ continual witness to God (see the Psalms, Paul, King David, etc.). Jesus showed us that he is Lord of creation (eye on the sparrow, calming the seas, physical resurrection). Creation waits for the Children of God to be revealed so that it might to be liberated from decay (Romans 8:20).
One day Jesus will come down to earth and all things will be made new. There will be a great judgment of the living and the dead and the Lord will once again fully dwell with his people in a created world.
What’s holding you back?
I know Hybrid’s are expensive (actually not really), being creation friendly will break the bank (nope), I’ll become really liberal (probably not), people won’t understand what I’m doing (when has that ever held you back?), it’s just one more thing to add on (like following Jesus faithfully no matter what the call might be?), it’s just ” just what?
Try committing to one thing. Live out the faith as it relates to creation care. Go and make disciples. Don’t go out on the street corner yelling. Don’t go start meeting environmentalists in order to get them to go to church. Don’t became an enviros friend and then dump them when it’s clear they aren’t as immediately in to how you practice your faith. Eat with them, get to know them, pray with them, share common passion, show them why you care for creation and most of all love them. Be with them, love them, trust God. That’s about it.
If you can relate to this or have a personal story in this regard e-mail us by clicking here.
Alexei Laushkin is the Senior Director of Communications for the Evangelical Environmental Network and Editor of Creation Care Magazine. Learn more by visiting http://creationcare.org.