Monday, 8 December 2008

You wanna be an environmentally friendly Christian? Then tell people the good news about Jesus!

This is probably my most politically incorrect post to date.  

If creation was given the task of testifying to the glory of God, then having to support a sinful humanity that desecrates and blasphemes such a glory will be a gigantic frustration for it.  Addressing unbelievers, Joseph Alleine (a 17th century puritan) writes:

The whole CREATION of God is against you.  
'The whole creation', says Paul, 'groans and travails in pain' (Rom 8:22). But what is it that the creation groans under? The fearful abuse it is subject to, in serving the lusts of unsanctified men. And what is it that the creation groans for? For freedom and liberty from this abuse; for the 'creation is not willingly made subject to this bondage' (Rom 8:20-21). 

[Richard interjects: Note in Gen. 3:17, it is not Adam who is cursed for his rebellion directly but the ground (the creation) is cursed in his place!  If I was creation, I would be well peeved!]

If the irrational and inanimate creatures had speech and reason, they would cry out under it, as a bondage insufferable, to be abused by the ungodly, contrary to their natures and the ends which the great Creator made them for. It is a saying of an eminent divine, 'The liquor that the drunkard drinks, if it had reason, like a man, to know how shamefully it is abused, would groan in the barrel against him, it would groan in the cup against him, groan in his throat, in his stomach against him; it would fly in his face, if it could speak. And if God should open the mouths of His creatures, as He did the mouth of Balaam's donkey, the proud man's garment on his back would groan against him. There is not a creature, if it had reason to know how it is abused until a man is converted—but would groan against him. The land would groan to bear him, the air would groan to give him breath, their houses would groan to lodge them, their beds would groan to ease them, their food to nourish them, their clothes to cover them, and the creature would groan to give them any help and comfort, so long as they live in sin against God.'

I think this would be a terror to an unconverted soul—to think he is a burden to the creation. 'Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?' (Luke 13:7). If inanimate creatures could but speak, your food would say, 'Lord, must I nourish such a wretch as this, and yield forth my strength for him, to dishonor You? No, I will choke him rather, if You will give commission.' The very air would say, 'Lord, must I give this man breath, to set his tongue against heaven, and scorn Your people, and vent his pride and wrath, and filthy talk, and belch out oaths and blasphemy against You? No, if You will but say the word, he shall be breathless for me.' His poor beast would say, 'Lord, must I carry him upon his wicked designs? No, I will break his bones, I will end his days—if I may have but permission from You.' A wicked man—the earth groans under him, and hell groans for him—until death satisfies both. While the Lord of hosts is against you, be sure the host of the Lord is against you, and all the creatures as it were up in arms until, upon a man's conversion, the controversy being settled between God and him, He makes a covenant of peace with the creature for him (Job 5:22-24; Hos 2:18-20)

Full text of the chapter is here

Recycling our plastic and bottles, turning off lights, swapping our cars for bikes are all laudable in themselves, but the BEST thing we can do for creation is speed about the return of Jesus, by preaching the Gospel.

I'm not sure I go all the way with Alleine for the simple reason that Christians die in natural disasters too.  However, what I do heartily agree with is that we all need mercy, infinitely more than we need recycled paper.


dave bish said...

That's fascinating and really thought provoking. Makes sense. The idea of the food in Sainsbury's groaning as sinful people buy and eat it is stunning and something to weep over.

Phil said...

Thanks for the Alleine quote. Very good. Not sure about your understanding of 2nd coming. NT Wright would argue that there is a deep connection between what we do now and what the world will look like after Jesus' return. New heavens and NEW EARTH. That what we do now in refining and redeeming the earth is work helps prepare the earth to become the new earth.

SO while I'm not going to stop anyone preaching the Gospel, actually living as redeemed people in relation to the earth is more than laudable. It's part of the work of the children of God.

Michael said...

Nice Richy! If only we told our friends the gospel as often as we put a plastic carton in the green box! A timely blog!

Richard Walker said...

A friend of mine pointed out a really helpful text. (He couldn't post for some reason) Job 38:12-15 gives us the scope of creation's relationship to the wicked!