Can we afford to care for creation?
Posted by Mission Catalyst at 10:19 on 27th May 2010
Gareth Wilde, BMS World Mission's Mission Education Co-ordinator, gave a reflection on the subject of creation care for Christian radio station, Hope FM, prior to the 2009 Baptist Assembly.
Whether it’s melting ice caps, increasing carbon emissions, renewable or nuclear, I think it fair to say that care for the environment has been a popular issue for the past few years.
But as the headlines focus more on the slowdown in the economic climate is there a danger of environmental fatigue? Could climate change issues once again be relegated to the sole concern of eco warriors, tree huggers and green activists! I certainly hope not.
Of course we could argue that the credit crunch is actually doing the planet some good. There’s nothing like the tightening of purse strings to cut your carbon footprint. Reports from across the country suggest we have begun to buy less and buy smart.
The Sunday Times recently recorded that supermarkets are seeing a slump in the sale of microwave meals with more customers choosing to cook from scratch.
UK campsites are enjoying a 10% increase in bookings as holidays abroad are substituted for the simple pleasures of the great outdoors. People are also taking the greener, cheaper option when it comes to transport with 14% flying less and 6% driving less. Even the amount of junk mail we are receiving through the letterbox is decreasing, particularly items from credit card companies.
But I suspect we need more sustainable motivation than economics to keep us concerned about the planet on which we live? Already there have been concerns that the International summit in Copenhagen this December will be over-influenced by increasing debt issues in the world’s wealthiest economies. Calls from the Stern report to invest just 2% of the worlds GDP per annum to reduce the risk of temperature increases are being criticised by other world economists. It would seem that something more than economic logic is needed, to motivate human beings to care for the planet long term.
In 2007 an Environmental agency survey of leading specialists asked them to name 50 things that will save the planet. It was fascinating to see the role of faith communities and their leaders was listed second, even above changing government policy on car emissions or home insulation.
Faith communities have been slow to engage in this area. I trained less than 20 years ago in a Baptist theological college and cannot remember ever looking at what the Bible said about caring for God’s creation.
But faith in God’s word can influence us for life and change our lifestyles permanently.
My hope at the Baptist Assembly is that we will be motivated to care for God’s planet by what the Bible has to say about creation care. We need to look afresh at the book of Genesis and how we are made in God’s image with a mandate to steward the earth with care. We need to understand the implications of the Fall and how the earth has been subjected to frustration and groaning as in childbirth Rom 8: 23
We need to remind ourselves of ancient songs that remind us that God enjoys biodiversity and delights in sea creatures and birds of the air. Songs like Psalm 24 declare the earth is the Lord’s and EVERYTHING in it.
Most importantly we need to be 100% focused on Jesus, the one described by the apostle Paul as creator of ALL things. He is the Son who sustains the universe that God gave because he loved the cosmos so much.
I am sure there will be several different opinions shared by Christians about how the world will end. But one hope that sustains many Christians is that of a renewed creation where the poor are not marginalised because of the effects of climate change - where God’s creatures great and small are not relegated to luxuries or entertainment but where everyone and everything can live in harmony with God and each other.
So it’s not about asking whether we can afford to care for creation. It’s about motivation from God’s Word. The Bible has sustained the hope of Baptist Christians for over 400 years; I hope it will sustain all those who find within it a call to care for God’s creation even in challenging economic climates.