One hears various titles given to the theme of this month’s issue of Lausanne World Pulse. “Environmental Concern” is one title. Another I have heard is “The Greening of the Church.” I prefer “Creation Care.” The title matters little as long as we take seriously our role to be stewards of our planet. In my country (the United States) and throughout the Western world, one hardly reads or watches news without finding this topic prominent in the newscast, and rightly so. We should be deeply concerned about global warming, greenhouse gases, ozone alerts, destruction of the rain forests and many other issues. Several of our authors address these topics with skilled pens.
My contribution this month is to tie creation care to my passion and one of Lausanne’s passions, namely, that of witness. I have always been arrested by Jesus’ response to the Pharisees as he rode into Jerusalem. If you recall, the crowds were preaching, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” (Luke 19:38). Angry at such a declaration, the Pharisees urged Jesus to quiet the crowds. Jesus responded, “I tell you, if they keep quiet the stones will cry out” (19:40). Throughout the scriptures we find God’s creation in the role of proclamation or witness. “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night, they display knowledge,” declares the Psalmist (Psalm 19:1-2). Paul argues that the central role of creation as declarer of God’s reality: “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
I am deeply concerned about our environment. In our home, we are taking some steps to help, including recycling as much as possible. Did you know that one aluminum can of Coke or Pepsi when recycled saves the equivalent of ½ gallon of gasoline? Or, as I tell my son, “One can recycled is ten miles (sixteen kilometers) of petrol!” We are also using fluorescent light bulbs in all our lamps and lights. There is a tremendous energy savings in doing so. Future generations deserve a healthy planet on which to live. We must each individually and in our ministry leadership practice preach creation care.
It was there that God told me, through his creation, that I was to focus on his cross where Jesus shed his blood for the forgiveness of my sins and those of the whole world.
In addition, I want to care for God’s creation because I understand that it is, in and of itself, part of the Kerygma, as all three passages above evidence. I have many personal stories of God speaking deeply to me through creation. Perhaps you do as well. I remember one time when I first turned to Christ. I was on a pine tree-covered hill in the mountains of northern California. It was night and the moon was shining through both the trees and on a rugged cross placed on the hilltop. I could hear the sounds of animals and birds. It was there that God told me, through his creation, that I was to focus on his cross where Jesus shed his blood for the forgiveness of my sins and those of the whole world. In theology we would call this the integration of general and specific revelation. I did not know those terms then. I only knew God was speaking to me in a profound way. The fact that I remember it some thirty-five years later is evidence of that.
Creation is God proclaiming his beauty, his power and his sure presence. May our God guide us to be devoted caretakers of creation, for it is our fellow evangelist.