You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the fields will clap their hands.
I haven’t mentioned environmental stewardship for a while on this blog, although the topic remains close to my heart. It’s not only in my heart, though. I take the action I can: Cycle to work (which we estimate has saved us 10,000 miles on the car so far), live in an energy-efficient apartment with EnergyStar appliances (as much as we have control over), use reusable bags at the grocery store, buy organic as much as possible, recycle everything we can, buy 100% renewable energy, don’t use the AC in the summer and keep the thermostat turned down in the winter… Lots of small changes that could be summed up thus:
We recall Jesus’ words that our lives do not consist in the abundance of our possessions, and therefore we urge followers of Jesus to resist the allure of wastefulness and overconsumption by making personal lifestyle choices that express humility, forbearance, self restraint and frugality.
These choices are becoming more mainstream as concern about global warming increases. Even in Christian circles, where ten years ago caring for God’s creation was seen as hippie tree-hugging and an accepted way of life was having a Jesus fish on your SUV, environmentalism has slowly started gaining a foothold. Many Christians in the past saw the choice as either caring for people — which Jesus clearly mandated — or caring for the environment. Yet as the Evangelical Environmental Network (see also their declaration, which sums up my view beautifully) put it,
…humanity and the rest of creation are part of all of creation. Therefore, creation-care does not just mean caring for “nature,” nor does it just mean caring for humanity; it means caring for both.
The idea that God gave us creation not to exploit but to care for holistically alongside people, although solidly grounded in the Bible, remained a radical idea to many Christians until just recently.
Then, in the last eight or so years, the trickle of Christians concerned about the environment turned into a flood. Christians and churches have started to buy into the notion that, in the words of the Evangelical Environmental Movement, they should
…be centers of creation’s care and renewal, both delighting in creation as God’s gift, and enjoying it as God’s provision, in ways which sustain and heal the damaged fabric of the creation which God has entrusted to us.
This Seattle Times article on evangelicals and the environmental movement provides a good discussion of the burgeoning Christian creation-care viewpoint. The Evangelical Climate Initiative represents 130 evangelical leaders who thing climate change requires real action from Christians; they, in turn, represent the flood of evangelicals who think our environmental crisis is a spiritual concern that requires major changes in our mindset and our behavior. In 2006 the Evangelical Climate Initiative declaration wrote,
As evangelical Christians, we believe we’re called to be stewards of God’s creation, and after considerable study, reflection, and prayer we are now convinced it’s time for our country to help solve the problem of global warming. We are compelled by our deep commitment to Jesus Christ and our study of God’s Word.
Amen. Now let’s get out there and make some big changes.