By Evelmyn Ivens
Does it make a difference using reusable bags instead of plastics bags? Or not buying bottled water? Or being conscious about how long you take in the shower? Or recycling? I asked questions similar to these a while ago as I was trying to understand the link between the environment and my Christian living. I grew up in a place where there is an abundance of natural resources, where everything is green, where there are rivers, lagoons, beautiful beaches, oil, and all kinds of fruits and vegetables. I always took for granted the creation that surrounded me.
Living in a country like the United States, where individualism and materialism are so embedded in our culture, we have forgotten about the rest of creation, the other living things, which we need to be conscious about. In the last couple of weeks climate change has been all over the news, and last week 195 countries signed to limit global warning of what is called the Paris Agreement. According to experts on the matter, even though this is a good start, there’s still much more to do. I feel that it is somewhat similar on how this issue/conversation it is happening in the church, in particular in the evangelical world. We finally, have come to an agreement that in fact there is a problem with global warming, however, there is still a lot to do. I can see this even happening with progressive evangelicals, when discussing about justice issues. The conversation about creation care is still the least talked about. Even at places like CCDA we are still behind in that conversation.
In the book of Genesis chapter one, God created the heavens and the earth, the oceans, the sky, plants, night and day, the sun and the moon, animals and humans. This chapter highlights that God is the origin of all that exists and that creation is good. In this same chapter God gives the first humans “dominion” over the earth with a command to “subdue” creation. At first these images might seem as an utilitarian view on how humans should treat the earth, going back to this idea of exploiting (utilizing) the earth as part of our calling and to fulfill our needs. However, I do believe that God has called us to be stewards of the earth, this is what he meant by dominion, it is our Christian responsibility to care for creation. And the command to subdue the earth can be more properly understood as a relationship between humans and the earth, an idea of companionship between the earth and its creatures.
A good parable to connect with the theology of creation is the story of the Good Samaritan in the gospel of Luke 10:25-37. The Good Samaritan was simply walking on the road when he found a wounded traveler. Unlike the other travelers, he stopped and not only cared for the wounded Jew but assured that this person received the appropriate care and recovered. The Good Samaritan showed not only the attitude of caring for the wounded, but also the attitude of generosity, and thoughtfulness. He never asked for compensation or assurance of gratitude by anyone. The act of loving the neighbor was given freely. Do we react similarly to our wounded ecological system? Some of us do, and some of us don’t. I wonder what it would take for us to make changes in our lives, simple acts love, generosity and thoughtfulness towards our creation.