Mon, Oct 21 2013 08:17 | Beliefs
According to the World Health Organization, 300,000 will die annually due to the effects of climate change by the year 2030. The UN Refugee Agency warns that by mid-century 200 million refugees will be on the move because of environmental degredation. The IUCN estimates current extinction rates to be up to 1,000 times the normal background rate.
If statistics had the power to change behaviour then such sound bites would likely have us running hell bent through the streets toward some constructive environmental action -- like trading in our SUVs for Schwinns and our Happy Meals for hemp seed smoothies. But statistics, because they play on flash-in-the-pan emotions of fear and guilt, are short lived in their power to change long-term behaviour. In my experience as a Christian, it is theological truth, grounded in scripture and inculcated into life, which sustains new ways of living.
Paul’s words in Colossians have the power to change the way live in relation to creation.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
It’s a theological meaty passage that links creation and humanity’s redemption in the person of Jesus. Through Christ all things were created; he sustains (or holds together) all things and then through his resurrection he reconciles all things. Where might all things end? Does it stop with people? This is how I used to read it in my tract-toting days. But the radical point this passage seems to be making is that creation itself participates in redemption. Biblical scholar N.T. Wright suggests that “redemption is not simply making creation a bit better, as the optimistic evolutionist would suggest. Nor is it rescuing souls from an evil material world, as the Gnostic would say. It is the remaking of creation.”
This text then has serious implications for our motivation for caring for creation. We do not try to save the world: rather, we join in the saving work God has already begun. We become God’s co-labourers, co-operating with the Spirit in making all things new.
Author's note: Adapted from an article I contributed to the Citizen's for Public Justice book, Living Ecological Justice: A Biblical Response to the Environmental Crisis, edited by Dr. Mishka Lysack and Karri Munn-Venn -- a great resource for churches and small groups. Go to www.cpj.ca for more information.