This is the concluding section of a longer paper called ’Confessions of a Reluctant Environmentalist’ first published at Urbana.org – click here for the original full article. These final remarks seemed most relevant for discussions leading up to Cape Town 2010.
What will a genuine, caring-for-Creation-kind-of-ministry look like? Let me suggest several things that will be true of such an effort:
First, we’ll be teaching a complete message of redemption. We’ll remember that our basic doctrines all point to a love and appreciation for Creation because God made it, and because in Creation we have a window through which we can see God.
This will affect our training. Both training of foreign workers before they go out, and training of local workers who join our projects and outreaches will include appreciation for Creation. We’ll want to be sure that we all understand and keep in mind that we are stewards of all around us – and we are responsible to the Creator to care for his world on his behalf.
A surprising thing may happen when we take this approach to our teaching. Many traditional societies have a higher regard for Creation than does our western culture, and a deliberate effort to include love for Creation in our teaching may create new and unexpected bridges into those societies. Such an approach may actually improve our efforts at evangelism as we come proclaiming the love of the One God who made the world in which we all live. It may also allow us to find out that there are some traditional practices in those societies, which can be applied today to help restore what, has been abused.
Second, we’ll be applying sound environmental and scientific principles to everything we do in our missions work. This means we’ll need to have members of our teams who have training in environmental fields such as ecological agriculture, appropriate technology. Many of the development mistakes of the past were made out of sincere ignorance. We just didn’t know what we were doing. There’s no excuse for that now. The knowledge is available to establish sound agricultural practices, to develop micro-enterprises that are environmentally sensitive; to apply appropriate technology solutions that avoid environmental damage.
And third, we’ll be communicating to our donors and supporters how important it is to our work that they take care of Creation seriously as well. It is tragic, but true that care for Creation seems to be largely ignored by the evangelical churches of America. Perhaps if those who are working on the frontiers of missions can communicate to those ’back home’ how important this is to their work, more of us back home will take it seriously.
We’ve made a mess of Creation – there’s little question of that. Is it possible to undo all the damage we’ve done as a race? I’m not sure any of us knows the answer to that, but I’m also not sure that it matters. What matters is this:
- God is still the Creator, and it’s still his Creation.
- We’re still his stewards.
- And there a lot of people whose lives could be better if their part of Creation were just a little bit better than it now is.
That seems like enough motivation to me.