Saturday, October 31, 2009

Individual vs. Corporate Creation Care

In her August 18, 2009 blog entry in Flourish online, Kendra Juskus, Flourish’s Managing Editor comments on an article by Derrick Jensen, entitled “Forget Shorter Showers”, published in Orion Magazine. Juskus summarizes Jensen’s thesis as follows:

“lifestyle changes adopted on an individual level are powerless to change creation’s trajectory toward destruction, and that more organized forms of resistance to that destruction are crucial for any change to happen.”

Jensen cites four major problems that result from relying on personal changes alone as a means of changing Earth’s trajectory toward destruction: First, emphasis on individual lifestyle assumes “that humans inevitably harm their landbase.” Second, it places blame for environmental degradation on the individual. Third, according to Jensen, emphasis on the individual narrowly views humans by portraying us only as consumers. Finally, its logic leads to the conclusion that the most stewardly act of the individual toward the Earth is to take one’s life.

Thankfully, the biblical basis for human concern for the Earth is grounded in a balance between stewardship of individual freedom and opportunity, on the one hand, and an accountability of the individual toward God-ordained institutions of family, church, and government on the other hand. With freedom to utilize the resources of the planet to support our lives, livelihoods, and recreational enjoyment, there is also the responsibility to limit our own consumption and enterprises so as not to jeopardize the well being of our neighbor, our local communities, and the global community.

It would seem that the institutions of family and church provide an excellent context within which we as individuals can grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the character qualities and virtues that encourage right living, love for God and for our neighbor, and frugal consumption. As the body of Christ seeks by the power of the Holy Spirit to be a “community” that mutually reinforces such a lifestyle, Christians can be empowered not only to give the Gospel but to be the salt and light that makes for a powerful witness both individually and through institutions in ways that adorn the Gospel and steward the creation.

All well and good. But are churches, particularly in North America, nurturing a passion both for the pursuit of Godliness among believers both individually and corporately as the body of Christ. Does the church stir a passion within us to seek reconciliation of God and humankind as well as between humankind and creation? Is this not what is meant when we pray, "Thy kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven?" How would you assess your current "spiritual health" and the "health of the church?"

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