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Monday, November 2, 2009

Christian Living Series: Learning not to fear - the faith to stop the killing

I was re-watching the first Transformers movie the other day when something occured to me. It was the scene where Bumblebee sacrifices himself to save the two kids then the police all decend to 'neutralise' the threat. I couldn't help thinking that we always do that. We humans seem to be unable to live with anything we see as a threat. Throughout history we have wiped out, or hunted almost to extinction, many species that we have seen as either a threat to ourselves or our livelihood. Just look at the declines in wolves, tigers, bears and sharks. Even the Tasmanian Tiger(Thylacine) was wiped out because we thought it would eat our livestock. We have killed dingoes and crocodiles for the same reason. Even people who generally like animals often think it is ok to kill them if they have, or might, kill us. Look at the shouts from the media to kill the shark after every 'attack'. I applaud the poor victims and their families who sometimes have to remind us all that it is not the shark's fault, and we were in their habitat. As the science shows, it's not like sharks get a taste for human flesh, and they move on so fast I have to wonder if it is ever the same individual who is killed when we do hunt down the 'maneater'.

I wonder if maybe humans have been on the top of the food chain for so long that we don't know how to live with threats anymore. It's like our knee-jerk reaction to kill spiders when we see them. On the scale of one to ten, spiders are probably only a two in terms of danger. They are tiny, and quite easy for us to avoid. And yet we don't seem to think that we should have to avoid them, so we just kill them. Where is our belief in the sanctity of life? It all kind of goes out the window when we feel threatened doesn't it? I suppose that's why we do senseless things like put nets near beaches to kill things in the hope that will mean we don't get bitten by sharks (shark nets do not close off beaches as popularly believed, and in fact provide no protection at all. But they do kill hundreds of sharks, whales, turtles and fish each year).

Our fear has also reduced the success of various wolf reintroduction projects around the world. Farmers get scared and shoot the wolves to defend their stock. We can't live with losing a little livelihood for the survival an endangered species? We don't seem to manage the things we fear, or our own fear, we simply annihilate the threat.

So if we could overcome our fear of other creatures, would the world become a better place? I think it would. This is an area where education can play a big role. Have you ever seen someone hold a snake for the first time? When one of the animal shows came around to your school or at the zoo perhaps? It can be a magic moment, a moment that turns fear into respect, and eventually respect into liking, or even love. Today's society desperately needs more contact with nature, and especially more contact with God's creatures. It is easy to fear the unknown, but if we have contact with these creatures maybe we can learn to care for them instead. After all, the Bible says that perfect love drives out all fear (1John 4:18). Maybe if we love and trust God, our creator, a bit more, we can learn to love his creatures; and the killing will stop. I am sure only love can save 'dangerous' species.

Action idea: invite an animal show to your church and help bring people closer to animals. Or organise a church trip to the zoo.

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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+