Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Earth day as doxology

Ok, I've used a fancy word in the title. A doxology is a short hymn of praise to God. So how does Earth Day achieve that?

The Earth Day webpage says its rationale is to motivate people to "act to secure a healthy future for themselves and their children". Now what is wrong with this from a Christian perspective?

Some will argue that the future is in God's hands. I can't argue with that. It strikes me though that such a statement is any more at odds with acting to preserve what we have been given, than me trying to be more holy even though I know in the future my sanctification (being made holy) will be completed by God, and that even now God is working through me to achieve that.

Why can't God use humans now to look after his Earth, just as he commanded? Now I'm not offering a view that says humans will "save the Earth" in some final sense, Romans 8 tells us that creation groans in longing for the renewal of all things, the eschaton. It is not as if we will build some eco-utopia and then Christ comes back with a "good job". But if the Earth is to be one day renewed, that tells me it has value to God, and that I should live now in light of that future.

Christians should not over look the justice aspect of Earth Day's rationale - to love our neighbours as ourself means neighbours in time as well as in space. Climate change will hit those near the bottom in both developing and developed countries the hardest. Indeed, the larger the warming we create, the more likely it is we will all be affected.

If climate change and other environmental crises are a judgment on our idolatrous way of life, how much more in lament and repentance should we join all people who are concerned for our future way of life, whether they share our eschatological hope or not?

Although it is now Earth Day in the US and not in Australia as I write, it is a reminder that our witness to the world as Christians will have far more credibility and relevance if we take our Earthy natures seriously, our past sins against creation and neighbour seriously, and we get along side people for the common good. No pie in the sky when we die, but incarnational mission. Just like our Lord and Saviour.

And ecological mission (or ecomission) is an act of worship (doxology), precisely because to know God and honour him as Lord is to know him,and make him known. Making God known is to live in the reality of his present and coming rule - when all things will be put right, including our relationship to creation.

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