The comment caught me completely off-guard. I was proudly showing a colleague my new truck; a sleek black Dodge Ram 2500 long bed with a V8 Hemi engine that my kids named Darth Vader. Instead of the expected words of admiration, however, this friend just retorted, “You are really supporting terrorism with that thing.” He said it with a smile, but I heard the seriousness in his tone.
What took me back was not so much the comment, but the fact that I had never stopped for a moment in the buying process to consider the ecological impact of my new gas-guzzling beast. What puzzled me further was that I had every reason to have been more ecologically sensitive, but wasn’t. You see, I have studied good, Reformed theology and have been an active Christian most all of my adult life. I love the outdoors, I have an appreciation for God’s good creation and I have even written books on stewardship! So why didn’t this background prepare me to make a more creation-friendly buying choice? The answer is simple. I had bought into the distortion that somehow God is uninterested in His created world while He is in intimately devoted to the details of the lives of those who inhabit it. In other words, God cares about us, down to the numbering of hairs on our heads, but he is not the least bit concerned about the stunning creation He called into existence and declared “good.”
If that sounds absurd, it is! But such is the power of the distortion that has kept deeply devout Christians from leading the charge for the care of God’s creation. And I was among them. Even today Christian voices warn us not be ‘distracted’ by creation care lest we take our eyes off the issues that are ‘really important’ to God. I came to the conclusion that such a view was biblically misinformed and theologically unsound. Oh yes, it is also environmentally disastrous.
Since that day in 2002 I have been on a pilgrimage. It has not been a journey to a distant, unknown land, but quite the contrary. It has been a coming home. s created worIt started with a re-reading of Scripture with an eye open to God’s intent for his beloved creation, and our calling as stewards of creation in that process. It continued with a revisiting of the great theologians in church history, and my amazement at how clued-in they were to this high and holy calling. The next step for me was personal and familial repentance. Not only had I not lived as a godly steward of God’s creation, I had not raised my children to be such stewards. I had not challenged misguided notions in my extended family, lifted up godly stewardship in my church family or been a champion of creation care in my community. There was plenty of fodder for repentance!
The last step, and the one that continues today, is to change my lifestyle because living as the new creation in Christ now includes a passion for creation care. This step moved me from the spiritual and theological to the very practical. For Linda and me it means diligently recycling everything possible, making buying decisions that are ‘green’, earning the designation of a registered Stewardship Property for our land, joining organizations that promote conservation and creation care, supporting our church’s community garden and speaking out in our families and community. And yes, it meant trading in my gas-guzzler for a vehicle with better than twice the mileage, and purchasing our first hybrid.
These are small steps, and so many others are doing so much more. But for me, it is the journey that has mattered most. How surprised I was to find that my passion for creation care did not come from a new theology or different biblical understanding than what I was raised to believe. It was there all along. I just needed eyes to see it, ears to hear it and a heart open to embrace it. That is the work of the Holy Spirit, calling each of us to come home and discover that across the pages of our Bible, deep in our own theology, consistent throughout our church’s history and written on our own hearts is the calling to love the creation as a natural expression of our love for the Creator. Is it time for you to come home?