david herndon

going green via loving people
May 27, 2008, 11:42 pm
Filed under: environment, God, life, people | Tags: , , ,

I wanted to expand on last week’s entry about “going green.”  If you missed out on that entry, be sure to catch up because its not about what you think its about based on that summation.

I firmly believe that we (human beings) get things backwards sometimes.  We know our world is messed up, so we try to fix the world – and not the people that live on the world, control the world, destroy the world, etc.  Example: We try to “go green” by inventing hybrids, building recycling stations, and growing “organic” products.  You can produce all the hybrids you want, but if people still don’t care about other people, things are never going to really change.  I believe this is what Jesus had in mind when he said the most important commandment  was to love god via loving people.  If every human being genuinely cared about every other human being (or at least every other human being), then I believe our world would be a lot greener… in more ways than one.  None of this is to say that I don’t support the green movement.  I do.  I believe loving people and loving the planet are two important things.  I also believe you can combine the two for one dynamic, world-changing effect.

Here are some ways you can go green and love people at the same time (go green via loving people)

1. Car Pool Evangelism/Discipleship:  If you’re a Christian, you probably have that certain person really want to share Christ with.  Effective evangelism and discipleship requires time, it requires a relationship.  Often this relationship is with someone you spend a lot of time with, a fellow student, a co-worker, etc.  So, what better way to initiate more time together (for talking/listening/sharing) than a car pool?  You could lead someone to Christ and cut down on harmful emissions.

2. Feed the Hungry, Not the Landfill: Do an inventory of everything you use on a weekly basis in your home, from food to laundry detergent to toilet paper.  Try to categorize these things (and more importantly the quantity you use) into three categories: absolutely necessary; beneficial but not necesarry; and pure pleasure.  Try going a month using only the “absolutely necessary” category.  Use the extra money you save at Wal-Mart that month to sponsor a mission organization, a church, or another benevolent charity.  You’ll cut down on waste, probably lose some weight, and help the needy community.  Take it a step further and go a year using only the “absolutely necessary” category.

3. Save the Ozone/Save a Village: The Mvule Project is a great organization to sponsor.  Visit their site to get all of the wonderful trees, but here are the basics: Certain regions in Africa have been completely deforested, the people lack education, employment, and health care to name a few.  When you buy an Mvule tree from the Mvule project you ultimately provide job opportunities and stimulate economic growth which leads to the building of schools, churches, and hospitals.  Your one tree will change the future of generations.  You’ll also be helping to alleviate the deforestation problem that is facing the globe.

Those are a few of my favorites.  Sound Cheesy?  A little.  Simple?  Yes.  But real change does not happen over night.  It happens in small steps.  We can all take at least one step.  I have more to list, and will do so in the future.  In the meantime, please share your ideas about how to go green via loving people.  More importantly, act on your ideas!



thou shalt drive a hybrid

Its been a while since I posted a controversial blog.  I know you’ve all been waiting for one, so here you go:

With gas prices soaring and global warming heating up, everyone from Woody Harrelson to Rob Bell has something to say about “going green.”  It is a real issue and the state of the environment is something we all need to seriously think about.  It is also a movement that is on the rise within Christianity and the Church’s voice on the matter gets louder every day.  As an avid outdoors person myself, I am a big supporter of the “go green” movement.  That being said, I do have some concerns with the way it is being presented in Christian circles.  It seems that the Christian view is being taught that if you are a believer, yet are not environmentally conscious or active, then you are committing a sin.  In some ways “go green” is being taught as the Eleventh Commandment (thou shalt drive a hybrid), and as usual I have a little different view on the spiritual side of this discussion.

The question that keeps popping up in my head as I hear green sermons and have green discussions with people is this: What is God’s perspective on “going green?”  Is it really as big a deal to Him as it is to us?  How concerned is God with our environment?  If Jesus traveled by jet, would he buy a carbon offset?  It is often taught that God is green and that being environmentally aware is vital to our spirituality.  I’m not so sure.

The most famous scripture quotation would come from Genesis 1, in which God gives man authority over the earth, the vegetation, and the animals with the command to subdue to the earth and be fruitful and multiply.  The interpretation is often that God’s command for man to “care for the earth” is really a command to “take care of the earth,” that our responsibility is to do our best to preserve it and protect it.  But is that what God is saying?  He could be saying, “I’m giving you the earth – do with it whatever you want -it’s yours.”  In Isaiah God talks about how the grass will wither and the flower will fade, but the word of the Lord will stand forever.  I interpret this as God saying, “Don’t get too invested in temporary things, but invest in what is eternal.”  He presents the earth as being a temporary thing – a material thing, if you will.  It will not always be here.  God’s word is eternal.  It will always be here.  It will always stand.  It is the only thing worth truly investing in.  Biblically speaking, no matter what we do environmentally, no matter how green we get, the earth is eventually going to be destroyed anyway.  It was never meant to last forever, so how concerned should we be in preserving it?  In Genesis 6, God himself decides to flood the earth and start over (talk about a global warming crisis).  He doesn’t seem too concerned there about “going green.”  He does seem concerned with preserving righteousness.

The truth is, I just don’t find much in the bible that presents a strong spiritual argument for “going green.”

One day someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is.  Jesus did not say to recycle or install solar panels on your house or to drive a hybrid.  He did say this: “you shall love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart, soul, and mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  All of God’s laws hang on these two commandments.”  It seems Jesus’ priority was less in how we treat the earth and more in how we treat the creator and the people of the earth.

Before you get too angry with me and misinterpret what I’m saying, let me be clear:  As humans, we should try our best to be good stewards of the earth.  As Christians, we should be the front runners in this movement.  I’m not telling you to start throwing all of your trash on the side of the road or to start burning down forests or to start killing bunny rabbits or anything.  Out of respect for our Creator, we should respect His creation.  I just think we’re going about things the wrong way.

Instead of opening the newspaper and seeing articles about how to care for the environment, I would be delighted to see articles about how to care for people.  Instead of seeing a movie star on TV talking about being green, I would like to see a movie star talking about being loving.  Instead of governments imposing pollution taxes, I would like to see governments imposing uncompassionate taxes.  Instead of Nobel prizes being awarded for environmental accomplishments, I would like to see Nobel prizes for evangelical accomplishments.

I think if we as humans became consumed with loving people, then our environment would be in a better state.  Our world is going to great lengths and spending incredible amounts of money in the interest of the environment.  What would our world look like if we went to such lengths and spent as much money in the interest of loving people?

The grass will wither.  The flower will fade.  The earth is temporary.  God’s word and God’s ways will stand forever.  You tell me which is more important.

I look forward to your comments.

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