Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Encouraging Creation Care: From ‘Top Down’ or ‘Inside Out?’

Earlier this year, NASA scientist James Hansen, wrote an urgent appeal to newly elected President Obama in regard to the impending danger from climate change. He wrote:

We cannot afford to put off change any longer. We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead.

He went on to recommend three actions – increased research on the polar ice caps, an imposed carbon tax, and a moratorium on coal burning power plants.

I am not opposed to taking wise action in response to concerns about the state of the Earth. However, there is a danger in being overconfident in our scientific understanding of the planet. Furthermore, there is an increasing politicization of global climate change. For example, policies such as “cap and trade” have the potential to influence large sectors of the global economy and bring potentially disproportionate negative effects on those who can least afford to pay; namely, the urban poor and many in developing nations.

Few would argue that it is the rampant materialism of both the West and the East that are driving us toward resource demands that are disrupting both the world economy and making our generation economically indebted to our children and “ecologically indebted” to the Earth. But can a combination of science and public policy cure us of this behavior? Science can point out the potential effects of climate change, and public policy can create incentives or penalties for behavior that is deemed destructive. But can a policy of energy and carbon restraint actually control human behavior while humans are in strong pursuit of a better life both in developed nations and in developing nations? How can a policy of restraint against the use of energy and carbon be effective without an unhealthy concentration of power over the lives of people?

The biblical texts call Christians and Jews to take individual responsibility for our actions. We must ultimately ground our behavior and lifestyle in the objective values revealed in Scripture-- values that relate not only to stewardship of the natural world, but also toward the sanctity of all of life and creation which belongs to God. It is God Who calls us to Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10).

As we listen to the many voices that propose scientific, political, and economic solutions to the challenges of our world, we should also “cease striving” each day and come before our awesome Creator Whose purposes will not be thwarted. So, why not “cease striving” and spend time in meditation upon God’s Word, and upon the awesomeness of His creation. Then, consider how God would have you redirect your lifestyle away from excessive material consumption and toward conservation and consecration of your life according to His purposes for you. Spend time in a quiet place in God’s creation, reexamining your life and purposes. Or, allow God’s revelation to lift you to worship and praise through media such as Stephen C. Weber’s video Creation Calls available on You-Tube. A sustained life of "Creation Care" must begin with a realization of Who deserves to be 'exalted in the Earth' and our privilege of glorifying this God and enjoying Him forever.

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