Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Christian Perspective on Earth Day

“The stewardship of creation is an act of submission to God through Christ who joined creation in the Incarnation.”

Well, that is where I am so far. This Sunday is Earth Day. The Christian Church in Kentucky has been a leader throughout North America with our Green Chalice initiative. Our congregation already meets the practical requirements to be designated a Green Chalice Congregation. We have implemented a paper recycling program; we no longer use Styrofoam and aggressively limit the use of disposable paper products; we have almost completed a transition of our lighting to high efficiency bulbs; we have a programmable thermostat system to minimize energy demands when our building is not in use; we purchase and use fair trade coffee and tea. Still, we continue to look for ways that we might reduce, reuse and recycle.

Throughout my ministry, I have had more than one church member criticize the church’s emphasis on environmental issues. A generalized argument about biblical interpretation or theology would preface a statement like, “and of course, all these environmentalists are worshiping the created, not the Creator.” As I listened, I wondered if it was less a conscientious objection and more an issue of convenience. Of course, it never helped when church sponsored resources would come across my desk with Buddhist Meditation practices and Prayers to Mother Earth. It’s not that I don’t respect Buddhists or adherents to Nature religions, but the Christian tradition is already perfectly suited and resourced for the teaching of biblical, Christ centered stewardship.

Frankly, as an orthodox Christian who has a high regard for Scripture and an appreciation for the life-giving traditions of the church, non-Christian arguments, practices and prayers seem idolatrous. That doesn’t mean I can’t stand side by side with a Buddhist as we clean a river bank or agree with a Druid that sustainable water is an essential for all of humanity. It does mean that as a Christian, I am aware of a unique perspective. Along with many other monotheists who trace their lineage from Abraham, I accept the responsibility to care for that which God has created. The Earth belongs to God. All that is in the Earth, including all of humanity, belongs to God. Because God has loved me I will, with a spirit of gratitude, care for all that is God’s.

As a Christian, my perspective is sharpened. Along with the rest of the family of Abraham, I believe God is transcendent. God is more than that which is, for God is eternal and the cause of all that is. God is beyond, above, uncontainable. However, as Christians, we believe in the Incarnation. The Incarnation, literally meaning “to take on flesh” is when God became human. The transcendent God became immanent, that is, present, here, in the midst of, in creation. God created and when God became a part of creation, I realized just how holy this planet is in the eyes of God.

Well, I’m not a professional theologian and my thoughts may not stand up to scholarly review. As a Christian, I want to know why it is important that I take care of creation. For me, it was because of Jesus Christ and the Incarnation. It is important that we submit, in every way, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. For the Christian, that includes the stewardship of creation that God himself designed, created and joined.

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