by Rich Dixon
As I shared in last month’s article “Embracing Creation Care,” I work for a Christian conservation organization called A Rocha. In Portuguese, A Rocha means “The Rock.” The name is fitting given its evangelical passion for Christ as the rock of salvation; it is the foundation for everything A Rocha does.
I direct the Santa Barbara chapter of A Rocha which seeks to engage the church and our community in stewarding God’s creation. Naturally, the question of what I “do” comes up often. When I’m explaining A Rocha and its mission to a fellow Christian, I sometimes encounter confusion, skepticism, or worse.
These reactions are understandable. Some assume that I am swept up in the latest cultural (and marketing) obsession with “going green.” Others are wary of the topic, given the political climate. Some are simply dubious of the entire concept.
When this happens, I try, with sensitivity, to paint a picture of the world as God’s precious creation, to make a connection between environmental degradation and the poor, and to suggest the redeeming role believers can play.
My first response is that God created the world and has entrusted it to our care. We have the privilege of helping keep our Father’s world, which was created by His wisdom and for His glory. All of the created order has an intended purpose in God’s creation (Psalm 104).
Revelation 4:11 proclaims, You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. Scripture helps us to put creation in its proper place; something we can love as God loves. We also know that creation is meant to be a signpost to God, the means through which He reveals His eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1:20).
Secondly, scripture attests to God’s concern for the poor. In much of the world, the poor are the most dependent on raw natural resources for their well-being. As a result, they are always sensitive to changes in the environment, such as a polluted stream that brings drinking water or food needed from a dwindling plant or animal population. Working on behalf of the poor requires some kind of commitment to creation care.
Meanwhile, we live in a culture that promotes nearly continuous consumption at just about any price. As people who love Jesus, we can’t be satisfied with our culture’s prescription for pleasure. We know that true joy resides only when God is glorified everywhere, in all things. Creation care is not about living a life of austerity, but rather about honoring the Creator, and making special effort to preserve what Christ authored.
The church has a vital role to play in creation care, similar in some ways to the work of the church in areas of urgent justice. Caring for creation is an extension of our growth as disciples as we seek to glorify the Creator and ease the suffering of his children. The church can bear witness to the supremacy of Christ on a global scale, yet practically and within our own social context.
Please join us at a special two-day symposium, October 9th-10th, 2009, as we explore ways of caring for creation together. A Rocha will host stewardship-related lectures, lead community outreach projects, and conduct fireside worship on the Santa Barbara Community Church campus. For details and to RSVP, emailgro.b1542212190sahco1542212190ra@mu1542212190isopm1542212190ys1542212190 or call 805-403-8826.