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Friday, September 18, 2009

"A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back -- but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you."

Edelman, Marian Wright

We all like heroes. Great, supernatural type beings who never take a step wrong and who do what we can’t. When life overwhelms us, we want to cry out for a Superman or a Wonder-Woman to come and save us.

There are multiple campaigns on Facebook to ‘Bring back Captain Planet’ to help educate people today about the environment. (For those who don’t know, Captain Planet was a children’s show my generation watched which involved a team of ‘planeteers’ with special powers (the ability to manipulate earth, fire, wind, water, heart) which combined to create the superhero Captain Planet. Under the instructions of the beautiful Gaia (mother earth) they travelled around the world preventing and solving environmental disasters. Each episode would then end with a tip on what you could do to help the issue discussed. The show had a lot of impact on many people. ) While the call is for Captain Planet to be used as an educational tool, I am sure many of us just wish that Captain Planet was real. Why can’t he come and fix this mess we have created for ourselves? We feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the ecological crisis and we don’t know what to do- so we want a hero.

We can treat God as a superhero too. When things get too much we just want God to fix it. Yet God has chosen to act through us. We, the body of Christ, are God’s arms and legs and fingers. It is up to us to let God work through us to see His will done. We have to have the faith to perform miracles.

For most of us, this seems beyond us. We think, yeah, heroes of the faith like Charles Spurgeon and Mother Theresa can make miracles happen, but we can’t. Yet the same Holy Spirit resides in us as resided in them. And if we think they never doubted, we would be wrong. I remember my shock, some years after Mother Theresa’s death, when it came out that for 15 years; she struggled with doubt and a lack of faith. It makes her more human though doesn’t it? And really, when you think about the things she saw, how could she not have had doubts sometimes? We all know that children starving on the streets and people dying alone and unloved in the gutters is not how the world is supposed to be. We long for the promised days when every tear will be wiped from our faces and all evil and pain will be taken away.

My recent reading however has reminded me of something really scary about this situation though – God is waiting for US to help recreate the world and bring about this new day. God has chosen to act through us to redeem all creation. What a great responsibility! We can’t just sit back and wait for God to destroy this earth and give us another (believe it or not, this is a common excuse for Christians not doing anything for the environment). No! Instead we must work with God to bring about the perfect world we all dream of. It is up to us. God does His work through us; and those who look for God on earth should be able to see Him in us. “We who live now are not disadvantaged, but wonderfully privileged, for God has chosen to rely primarily on us to carry out his will on earth” (Philip Yancy). If there is not enough love in the world, then we must bring love to it. If there is hunger in this world, then we must feed the starving. If people lack faith, we must lead by example, and if there are species suffering and dying as they wait for the redemption of creation, we must reveal ourselves as the children of God by saving them.

As Philip Yancy puts it, in his book ‘Disappointment with God’ (p92):
“Some people find no comfort in the prophets’ vision of a future world. “Mere pie in the sky,” they say. “The church has used that line for centuries to justify slavery, oppression, and all manner of injustice. They force-feed the hope of heaven to the poor in order to keep them from demanding too much on earth.” The criticism sticks because the church has abused the prophets’ vision. But you will never find that “pie in the sky” rationale in the prophets themselves. Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Jeremiah have scathing words about the need to care for widows and orphans and aliens, and to clean up corrupt courts and religious systems. The people of God are not merely to mark time, waiting for God to step in and set right all that is wrong. Rather, they are to model the new heaven and new earth, and by so doing awaken longings for what God will someday bring to pass.”

Creation can only be saved, freed and redeemed by us. It is time for the church to embrace this message; to stand up and not only catch up with society in our care for creation, but to lead society into a greater level of care and sacrifice for its good. It is up to us. It is up to you.

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Important Lessons from the Bible

Why Jesus came:
"that the world might be saved through him"
John 3:17

Who Jesus is going to use to save the world:
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God."
Romans 8:19

Our role on earth:
"The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it."
Genesis 2:15

The Five Pillars of A Christian Theology of Sustainability

1. God is the creator, sustainer and redeemer of creation.

2. Covenantal Stewardship (we have a covenant with God as stewards of the earth).

3. The creation-fall-redemption paradigm (God made a good world; human failure broke the relationships between god, man and creation; Christ provides hope for all creation).

4.Bodily resurrection(we will rise with bodies, not as spirits)

5.New Creation (a new Heaven and new Earth refers to a renewal and an earthing of heaven, not starting over).

Adapted from When Enough is Enough: A Christian Framework for Environmental Sustainability, Edited by R.J. Berry, Published by Inter-Varsity Press, 2007, Nottingham p43+