this last thursday we celebrated earth day.
every year at this time i pause long enough to consider my own assumptions about this planet, and about how my own behavior does or does not match my beliefs. it seems to make sense to me, but each year i am also amazed at how some Christians get so upset about earth day. i would explain here to you, in case you aren't aware of the diversity of Christian responses to this day, but to be honest with you, i don't really get it. i know that the throngs of Christians get their "facts" from fox news, which has a deeply rooted political agenda, and therefore spins the truth to suit that agenda. and people listen. i also know that when it comes to the environment there is a deep fear in people - fear that things might have to change, or fear that a terrible disaster will happen, or that the government is going to take control of everything - and fear leads people to do, think and believe some crazy things. and i also know that there are many Christians who just outright deny the idea that we should be worrying about the earth at all, because God will make a "new heaven and a new earth," so we should just let this one run its course.
i had to face some of this righteous anger (fear?) the other day via the internet, even as i was getting the kids dressed to head to an earth day party. the irony of it was striking to me. i am a Christian leader, answering God's call on my life, trying to feed God's sheep, trying to lead us and move each of us towards being disciples of Jesus, and part of that means teaching my children to be good stewards of our resources. but there are some (many?) Christians who don't see earth day as a way to do that. they see it as a politically charged day of propaganda. i guess i'm simple, but here's what i think.
God created the earth, and as a Divine Artist, God designed it carefully, adding a dash of color here and a bit of zest there. God built all kinds of surprises into it, like the platypus, and the venus fly trap. God played at it, making something so infinitely beautuiful until God finally stopped and called it all 'very good.'
God says that the earth is "very good."
what do i do with that, besides take care of this good thing that the Great Artist has created?
but there's more than that. Jesus, who i believe was God's own son, told us that the greatest things we could do would be to love God and love others. as simple as that sounds, it manifests itself in a million different ways, and one of the ways has to do with the environment in which we live. if I love God, i can show it by respecting the "very good" thing God has made. and if i love my neighbor, i can show it by doing my part to make sure that they have clean air to breath, and clean water to drink.
a concrete example: i love my wife. and part of loving her means that i help provide a safe and good place for us to live. together we make this happen. we plant flowers and prune trees and sweep the floor. when the garage gets full of leaves, i clean it out. when the toilet gets...well, you get the idea. we take care of our space, of our resources. it's one way we show love to one another. if we didn't keep it clean, or make it beautiful, it would send a different message, that we don't think one another (or ourselves) are worth taking care of, or making things beautiful for. and that's the message we send to our neighbors in china when we send all of our electronic waste to be dumped there. and that's the message we send to our children when we indiscriminately use electricity and batteries and power like it has no effects on anyone else. when we are more thoughtful about our decisions; when we think about how our actions reflect love of God and neighbor, we may have to make more difficult and uncomfortable decisions, but we will make decisions that show love, which is what Jesus said was THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.
so, there may be any number of political issues behind the facade of earth day. but there are also all sorts of fears behind the Chrstian rejection of it. and i believe that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. we must face our own violent and insatiable consumerism and learn to tame it with a commitment to love God and love others with all our choices. at least that's what i'm trying to do.