CT Article: Old-Fashioned Creation Care

I'm so thankful that I'm not the only one in the world who enjoys writing and is committed to using this passion to be a voice for the holistic Gospel. I highly recommend this soul-stirring article recounting CT journalist David Gushee's efforts to care for the world that was graciously entrusted to him and us by God.

In a nation as pathetically spoiled as America, the Church is full to the brim of so-called Christians who are constantly searching for the easy way of following Christ, who place convenience at the top of their priority list. These are the people you hear complaining about the rigors of spiritual discipline, and who label everyone pursuing Christ with more rigor than themselves 'legalists' or self-righteous bigots. They're the kind of people who constantly validate their own worldly behaviors in the name of Christian freedom. They're often the ones who have so little patience with their brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ (and so much confidence in themselves) that they fly the coop on their church families when everything doesn't happen the way it should (as it obviously would if they were in charge).

Don't get me wrong. In every age, the Church has its 'prophets'--those to whom God has given a special duty to keep the Church following Christ wholeheartedly, single-mindedly, unashamedly, and biblically. But how do we know if we're one of the 'brats' typified above? Maybe answering a few questions could help us in our self-discernment and humility before God and each other. [This is not meant to be exhaustive by any means, but merely a primer for self-evaluation.]

  • How much of my conversation is positive and edifying, both to the people with whom I am conversing and to the Church?
  • How much am I defending my own personal choices and behavior with my appeals to 'Christian freedom'? (See Martin Luther's The Freedom of a Christian for an accurate and thorough biblical exposition of genuine Christian freedom. This is a must read for every disciple of Christ.)
  • How averse am I to difficulty and suffering for the Name of Christ?
  • Here's a big one. How closely am I walking with my Lord, Savior, and Beloved, Jesus Christ? How often, and for how long do I talk to Him? How honest am I with Him, both with my grievances and my joys? How often, for how long, and how intently do I listen to Him--in silent meditation, contemplation, and the reading and study of His Holy Word?
  • How eager am I to receive biblically sound correction and admonition from those who love me?
  • How committed am I to praying for my family, friends, church family, unregenerate loves ones, Church leaders, civil authorities and, most especially, 'enemies'?

This is obviously a long preface to a discussion of the article that I want to highlight, but an important one for the sake of introspection and mutually edifying dialogue. Once you've softened your heart to the inworking of God's Spirit, read David Gushee's brief and practical article on the stewardship of creation.

One thing I find pleasantly ironic about practices such as the ones he mentions is how they end up having even more positive spillover effects on our lives. Living frugally and modestly regardless of financial circumstance is not only necessary for the care of the world which God entrusted to our care at Creation, but it also aids us in living out the life that Jesus described in His Sermon on the Mount, recounted in the Gospel According to Matthew, chapter 5.

There's something about slowing down, consuming less, investing in durable goods rather than disposable ones, cooking and eating at home versus dining out (frozen dinners don't really count, but I suppose they're a step in the right direction), squeezing every last ounce of use out of what we have, saving more, and giving more that holds enormous capacity for keeping us humble, others-focused, and quiet in spirit before the Lord--virtues which must characterize every follower-friend of Christ. Back to the 'brats'... Many of us complain that 'moral mandates' such as creation care are just 'one more brick to add to our already unbearable yoke of Christian discipleship', and we may be right. But where we fall far short of the call of the Christ is forgetting that the weaker we are, the stronger Christ is shown in our lives (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

The burden is supposed to be heavier than we can bear, because we aren't the ones who are supposed to be carrying it. Many people stumble over the apparent inconsistency between Jesus' call to 'take up our crosses daily and follow Him'--far from a walk in the park, by any measure--and His promise that His "yoke is easy" and His "burden is light". But there is no contradiction here. Far from it, actually. You who have been born again into God's family, think for a moment and this will become clear to you. Think about what it would feel like if you had to carry the burden of appeasing God's wrath and securing His favor by way of good deeds... if you're whole life was an incessant, full-throttle effort to keep yourself right with God. This is what the other world religions offer... a 'better formula' of works that will (hopefully) please God and earn you salvation. Dear friends, compared to this, carrying the cross of suffering daily for Christ is so, so light! We are carrying it not because we're trying to earn God's favor, but because we are overcome with joy at the favor He has already bestowed upon us! It is the labor of love! And in it--in this suffering of love--we find the truest, fullest, most abundant joy the world has ever known or will ever know! Suffering is the pathway to joy! The Apostle Paul spoke no few words on this subject. It seems that everywhere we look in his letters to the early churches we find Paul boasting of the incomparable privilege he has to suffer for (with!) Christ. We, friends, are missing out!

When it seems that Christ is not chipping in and doing His part--that is, when we feel nearly crushed under the load--real spiritual growth is just around the bend. That weight is the test of faith. You slap away the wrist of the one who tries to help you along the pathway to Christian maturity by adding a brick to your load, you fail the test of faith and spurn the loving hand of God whose desire it is to sanctify you (Matt. 5:48, Col. 1:28, 1 Thess. 4:3a, Prov. 3:7, 11 & 12, Prov. 13:24).

I'm being way harder on you, my friends, than Gushee is in his article. He's writing for a national audience, and so his writing reflects this. I am writing to those I hold most dear--to you, dear friends. Fear not, for the conversation of holistic discipleship is not a passing writing fad for me. It is the essence of the call of Christ to follow Him, and thus at the very epicenter of both this blog and the ministry that is my life. I look forward also to the challenges I receive from you, my friends, that will help me live a more sacrificial, Christlike, others-focused life that glorifies God and intensifies my enjoyment of Him.

Love,


Matt

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