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A Message from the Pastor
Pastor

Greg Kintzi

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"GREEN LIKE GOD"
Revisiting Genesis One

 

“There is only one world, a world that God loves.
Since God loves it, we not only can but should.
In fact, loving the world, or rather, loving God
through loving the world, is the Christian way.”
-Sallie McFague
 

         Our world is in trouble. The signs are all around us. Millions die unnecessary death’s each year from lack of safe drinking water. The earth’s diverse creatures, from tropical bugs to artic polar bears, are being decimated at alarming rates. Air in many of the world’s most populated cities isn’t fit to breath. Dense rain forests, which hold medicinal power and incredible biodiversity, are being laid bare. Soil in many places is unfit for farming, landfills are piling up at incredible rates, and climate change has become the new reality.

        To make matters worse, many people who call themselves Christians are contributing to the problem rather than trying to address it. About 50% of all Protestant pastors in the United States say they speak to their church about creation care “rarely” or “never.” That percentage rises to 77% for evangelical church pastors.

        This lack of interest in addressing what scripture says about one of the most pressing issues of our time has had a trickle-down effect, producing Christian laity ambivalent about caring for God’s creation. As one of the most sweeping studies of public attitudes toward environmentalism ever conducted states, “Evangelical self-identification is strongly associated with less support for the environment.” One modern historian adds, “Indifference toward the environment, or at least toward claims of environmental crisis, abounds in fundamentalist Protestant writings.” When one’s commitment to conservative Christianity increases, coolness towards the environment often increases. A recent poll shows that Christians are of the least likely groups to recycle.

        One might ask how this can be when the Bible so clearly admonishes its readers to take care of the earth and to treat it with respect? I believe that much of the problem stems from a misunderstanding of the Creation story as it is told in Genesis chapter one. As Bill Tradeway relates in an article he once wrote titled A Gift Beyond Measure, “Just a few verses prior to God’s recognition of the goodness of creation, Genesis records God’s instructions to human beings to ‘fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth’ (Genesis 1:28). Human history is certainly filled with evidence that we have taken those instructions seriously. As our members swell past seven billion and our technological sophistication continues to grow, we must re-evaluate our understanding of these instructions. We can no longer see the

world primarily as an accumulation of resources to exploit, but rather must recognize that human beings are but one part of the intricate web of God’s creation.

        “What is needed is a balance between the biblical declaration that the world created by God is good and the mandate that human beings practice dominion over the earth. We, as children of God, need to understand clearly that we now have unprecedented power over the earth. We can and have destroyed irreplaceable plant and animal life. In light of our capacity for great harm, we as God’s people must practice an understanding of dominion that emphasizes caretaking and stewardship, rather that dominion and control.”

        Or as a good friend states: “We are created and called by God to walk gently in the world as gardeners, as care-takers, as stewards, as creatures ‘intricately woven’ into the fabric of creation. We care for the earth not out of fear or guilt, but out of love, responsibility, and gratitude to the one who created us.”

        The vocation of human beings and Christians in particular is not to trash or destroy the creation or its creatures or dominate them in any way, but to serve and safeguard them. This is what conservation and stewardship is all about. Everyday we wake up and are faced with a choice to do nothing and remain silent about our planet or make a difference. We either ignore the desire of God’s heart for our world or embrace it. Let’s clinch the task God has given us and transform this place called Earth into a garden where the creation will sing hymns about the Creator and the gospel of Jesus Christ will flourish.

Your Fellow Pilgrim on the Journey

Pastor Greg Kintzi