Posted by: mcgurker | August 24, 2009

Hiking Thorough Scripture Part 5: The full impact of Sin and the Hope God offers

Scripture passages for this journey are:

Genesis 3: 14-19
Hosea 4: 1-3
Ezekiel 34: 17-22
Numbers 35:33-34
Romans 8: 18-25

These passages tell us what happens when we reject God’s call to do justice by choosing to destroy rather than repair, restore and reconcile broken relationships and covenants. According to Isaiah 24:5 and 13, “Earth is polluted by its very own people, who have broken its laws disrupted its order, violated the sacred and eternal covenant.” For this reason, “This is the fate of all nations: An olive tree shaken clean of its olives, a grapevine pick clean of its grapes” (the Message). The metaphor of fruit (or lack of fruit) has important connotations for Christians. Isaiah 24 may help us to see God’s commandment in Genesis 1:28, a passage many have used to suggest humans could use Creation without regard for the health of the earth in a new light.  For, in order for us to “be fruitful” the Earth must be healthy. In addition, in John 15: 4, Christ bids us “Abide in me as I abide in you.  Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” Life in Christ means continuing Christ’s work of justice and reconciliation rather than participating in the work of destruction.

The pollution of the Earth by its people is a symptom of a broken or incomplete relationship with the Creator and each other. In short, environmental problems are human problems. This idea is further explained in Ezekiel 34:17-22.

“And as for you my dear flock, I’m stepping in and judging between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.  Aren’t you satisfied to feed in good pasture without taking over the whole place?  Can’t you be satisfied to drink from the clear stream without muddying the water with your feet? Why do the rest of my sheep have to make do with grass that’s trampled down and water that’s been muddied?  Therefore, God, the Master, says: I myself am stepping in and making things right between the plump sheep and the skinny sheep.”  – The Message

When we pollute the earth, not only do we destroy what God has created and called good, we hurt our brothers and sisters downstream.  And we are all to blame.  Not just the plump sheep who are living the high life, but the moderately comfortable sheep as well.

“The world is being destroyed, no doubt about it, by the greed of the rich and powerful. It is also being destroyed by popular demand.  There are not enough rich and powerful people to consume the whole world; for that, the rich and powerful need the help of countless ordinary people. We acquiesce in the wastefulness of destructiveness of the national and global economics by acquiescing in the wastefulness and destructiveness of our own households and communities.  If conservation is to have a hope of succeeding, then conservationists, while continuing their effort to change public life, are going to have to begin the effort to change private life as well.” – Wendell Berry.

But there is hope, and I see it every day when people of faith take action publically and privately to choose reconciliation instead of destruction. Over the past year, over 30,000 people of faith, through the NCC Eco-justice program alone, have taken public action asking their members of Congress and the President to take action to reduce our contributions to global climate change while protecting their neighbors both near and far who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as well as the cost associated with responding to it. Many of these same people are taking it upon themselves to reduce their personal contributions to climate change by reducing the energy they use in their homes and churches.   Individuals and congregations have reduced 271,530.6 lbs of carbon through the Carbon Reduction Campaign just by changing their light bulbs, turning down their thermostats, weatherizing their buildings, using low flow water fixtures and making a conscious effort to conserve water and energy every day. It is through these individuals and congregations that we catch glimpses of the glory that all of Creation longs for, when Creation itself, and all of us with it will be set free from bondage to decay (Romans 8: 18-21).

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