Posted by: Drew Sutton | October 24, 2008

Fear is an interesting four letter word

Fear is an interesting four letter word that runs rampant throughout our culture.  Staking its claim as a force within the manner with which we deal with many of the issues facing humanity, this four letter word has the power to move masses into a new future.  The tension however lies in the fact that fear can also create in us a sense of isolation generating emotions overwhelmed and alone.

Scripture however offers us a different tension for fear.  The psalmist writes that “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your words are wonderful, I know that full well.” (134:14)  Fear presents itself as a tool for discerning where God calls us to be.  It’s the edge of the path that God leads us, holding us accountable.  Challenging us to stay true to God’s word, we remember to fearfully follow the Creator of all that is.  Fearfully following is held in tension by the knowledge of being wonderfully made.  God created us in the image of the heavenly artist and after painting the picture of all of Creation; the artist stepped back and said “it is good!”  We live in the tension of walking in amazement of the world provided by the Creator while at the same time recognizing the fearful power that comes with the responsibility of caring for Creation.

Learning about sustainability and how the many issues we face at the National Council of Churches Eco Justice Program reflect the fact that humanity, charged as caretakers of God’s creation, has lost the fear that one day this wonderful work of God may slowly evaporate from underneath us.  We continually over utilize resources, destroying precious lands, creating tougher situations for the impoverished people of the world and creating greater environmental, social, and economic problems for us in the future.  In much of the things I read and learn about sustainable development, I find writers and speakers reclaiming the fear the psalmist speaks of.  From scientist, to economist, to theologians, people reflect upon the status of the earth challenging the world to wake up from a smothering slumber.

Susan George, and activist, educator and author, spoke about the ecological struggle we face in the midst of an economical crisis and worldwide poverty, a few weeks ago at the Schumacher Lectures in England.   She says during the lecture, “I’m sorry, but the time has passed for telling people to change their behavior and their light bulbs; that if enough people do this, then together “we” can save the planet!…this isn’t going to be enough.”  Following these overwhelming words she says, “Sometimes big ideas can be beautiful and right now is one of those times.”

Our present time needs big ideas and needs people to walk fearfully and wonderfully made.  As we reclaim our fear it’s easy to become disillusioned or overwhelmed or exhausted, but it’s working together that we begin to see these big ideas reshape the way in which we live our lives.  

Sustainability needs all of us working to educate, challenge, and remind people we are fearfully and and wonderfully made in the image of our Creator.  We at the NCC Eco-Justice Program two resources that might help you continue reclaiming our identity as caretakers of creation.  We have an open letter to both presidential candidates challenging them to make creation care a priority for their administration.  We also have created a list of Christian Principles for a Healthy Body and Spirit to help address the growing issue of pollution and toxins produced that are destroying Creation.

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