I recently read a short article in the local newspaper about evangelicals who are finally warming up (pun intended) to environmental concerns. As usual the issue went from grey to black and white in the first 100 words. That is, conservation or environmental activism was immediately associated with being Democratic and being leery or even against these issues (however they are understood) was labeled Republican. It’s amazing to me how easily all groups of people can be labeled. Here are a few more from the article:
evangelical = Bush supporter, anti-homosexual marriage supporter, pro-lifer, those-who-don’t-care-about-global-warming-ers
environmentalist = liberal, economic impact ignorer, homosexual marriage supporter, pro-choicer
Put aside these stereotypical and expected media-convenient categories and one realizes that this issue is actually much more difficult than presented in the article. Big surprise, eh? As an evangelical I want to enjoy a green earth. I recycle responsibly– bottles, cans, plastics, papers, batteries and even dirty diapers when I lived in Toronto. If the recycling company will pick it up, I’ll put it out. I will go out of my way to make sure something is recycled properly. I want to teach my kids to do the same. Although recycling may be considered light-weight environmentalism, its environmentalism none the less, right? My motto: I will recycle a tree but I am not going to hug it or live in it. Why such an approach? Well, as much as I like God’s green earth, it’s his gold earth that I am really waiting for. You know, the one with the streets of gold: “The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21).
For the naysayer out there who is thinking to himself, “What a load of recyclable rubbish,” I say, “You create your green, 72 degree earth now and enjoy it.” Of course, I’ll get to enjoy it too but I will not confuse this earth with God’s perfected earth yet to come. Will I recycle? Yes. Will I do my best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Sure (I already walk to work each day). Will I climb a tree, pitch my tent on the first branch to support me and stay there until the bureaucratic machine that we call the government decides to listen to me and bend to my demands? I don’t think so. Will I trust in God’s promise that this earth is not my home and I am “just a passin’ through”? Absolutely. You see, in my opinion, the best conservation is placing my hope in God’s new creation. I’m holding out for something better but I will do my best to steward what has been given to me now. It’s a modest start but one with rich rewards.