by Vincent Mossberg.
We Christians believe that God is the creator of the world. In Genesis 1:28, God gives mankind the original plan for our existence – to be fruitful and multiply – but also to have dominion and stewardship over the animals and the earth that God has given to us. God is generous in character and by nature good, and He made us free and responsible. So what? How should we humans then steward the earth?
An analogy that for me has become a symbol for the lack of stewardship is the deprivation of the blue whale population. The blue whale is the largest creature that we have seen and identified on the earth, even larger than the largest known dinosaur. Yet they are so shy that whenever they see humans, they dive into the depths of the sea. Also, we don’t know where they give birth or really much about them.
In the beginning of the twentieth century there were 400,000 blue whales in the ocean, but today there are only 10,000 left because of whale hunting. Yes, species have always gone extinct, but today the extinction rate is a thousand times faster than before the time of man. Within the freedom that we have been given, these things are possible, but they are not responsible. Might these be examples of mankind straying away from our original purpose?
What I have seen within the church are two different camps. One camp is focusing on everything spiritual and charismatic, on spreading the gospel or praying for the sick. The other camp takes their faith and puts it into political action, to change society and to be a part of that end of the solution. The church doesn’t need more of either one of these two camps at the cost of the other. We need more of both; they are not opposites or contradictions, but create variation and richness in the church.
This is a collective problem and it demands a collective solution. For the individual, salvation of the soul and to be born again in the spirit are the most important things that can happen. For the planet, our natural habits and behaviors as a collective are important. These things don’t have to be contradictions.
Our goal can be to save souls and still work to change our habits and culture within the charismatic movement. Natural laws still apply to a person after being born again. For example, you still need to eat and exercise to take care of your body, to be healthy and for your body to function optimally. The planet still needs us to change our habits after we are born again, as well as before.
A problem that has been seen through history, even in the days of the early church, is that people can overemphasize the spiritual things and neglect natural practices. We are body, soul, and spirit, and to live as a whole, we need to live them all fully and not neglect any of them. How we view our own trinity will mirror how we act. If we think that it is only the spirit that counts, we will neglect natural things. We need to deem natural things as important in order to change our behavior. What if the church would be the leader in sustainable development? Would it bear testimony of God and draw people to their original purpose and identity?
God is whole and exhibits the fullness of life, for He is the creator of life. God is also the perfect Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. What if He were to neglect one member of the Trinity? It is maddening just to think about it. Can we then neglect the natural reality and focus only on the spiritual? Or has God created us to steward both while we walk this world?
Vincent Mossberg is a Swedish student with a passion for Jesus and the environment. He has a master’s degree in planning for sustainable development and is currently attending the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, California.
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