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Monday, February 1, 2010

Building for the Future

I went to a sermon on Sunday night that spoke about building for the future. It was an interesting sermon, with two illustrations I particularly liked. The first, talking about the way we can sometimes find it hard to think and plan for the future because we are so stuck in today, was the movie “Back to the Future 3” where Marty has to drive the Dolorien (car converted into a time machine) off the edge of a ravine to get back to his own time. When he gets there, a bridge will have been built so he won’t crash, but in the time he is in at the moment it looks pretty scary and Marty has trouble getting his head around it when Doc tries to explain.
Actually, it’s a little like climate change. I am sure that if we were to time travel into the future and see the devastation it is likely to cause, we would be desperate to get back to 2010 and do whatever it takes to fight the devastation. But here and now, without that perspective, the idea of spending the kind of money it will take to do something real about climate change is more immediate and more terrifying (for many) than the enemy itself. I think war, under a strict commander might be like that. I mean, you would be afraid of the enemy who are actually out to kill you, but the fear of the commander who can punish you for failure or cowardice would be more immediate and perhaps more motivating.

The other story he told was about a Sunday school teacher who worked diligently for the Lord for many years, but felt like a bit of a failure at the time of his death. Before he died though he talked to a cobbler’s apprentice and brought him to Christ. That apprentice was D.L. Moody, who went on to become a famous evangelist who converted another evangelist who created another, all the way down to Billy Graham. That poor man who thought himself a failure, through one action, begun the conversion of millions of people. It just goes to show that we will rarely know the true impact we have on the world and the people around us. Only God really knows what results will come from the work He gives us to do. All we can do is listen to His will, act on it and do our best, then leave the rest to Him. This is a teaching I am trying to apply in my own life.

I have been discussing with a friend how short-sighted we humans tend to be. It’s strange, especially in the current generation. Scientists like to tell us that we are the only animals with the ability to plan for the distant future using our imagination. That might be so, but then why aren’t we very good at it? Yet the Bible tells us that the founders of the faith had a lot of foresight. After all, they found the promise of descendants as abundant as sand on the seashore exciting, and they were happy with their descendants inheriting the land in which they lived as strangers. I think if Abraham had lived in my generation he just would have bought as much of the land as he could and then schemed to get more, perhaps with a low interest loan he didn’t have the ability to pay off. Then it would be that debt he would leave to his descendants.

One of the interesting things about listening to this sermon was the fact that I was sitting there, excited, thinking about building for the future by caring for the environment and setting 100 year sustainability goals- yet this was not what the minister meant at all. For him, building for the future was about getting more people into his church. It’s funny, isn’t it, how even when we do get around to trying to prepare for the future, we all have such different ideas of what we want that we can’t agree on a way to get there. A lecturer told me once that everyone wants to conserve something. It’s just that they may not want to conserve the cassowary, because they may be more interested in conserving the community, the rainforest, another species, their lifestyle, their ability to drive around etc....

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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+