Monday, February 09, 2009

A Rocha: Christians In Conservation

Husband and wife team Daniel and Melissa were in CDPC recently to introduce their work in A Rocha, a conservation organisation with a Christian ethos. It is presently (2008) in 18 countries worldwide, where it undertakes scientific studies, and engages communities in conservation work and environmental education. I'm happy that some church member(s) who have read Total Truth were inspired to explore this ministry.

Why Christians in conservation?
There are at least four good reasons for Christians to be involved in conservation.

Christians believe that God made the world. When we make something, whether it be as life-changing as giving birth, or as quick as sketching a picture, we care about what happens to our creation. So it's easy for us to understand that God cares deeply about all his creation. The Bible makes this clear in many passages, e.g. Psalm 50, verses 10 & 11, where God says "every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine." Studying, thankfully enjoying and caring for the world that God has so wonderfully made is an obvious way for us to show our love for him.

Christians are called to obey God in every part of their lives. In the Bible, we find that the first wish expressed by God, concerning men and women, was that they would rule over "the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground" in a way that reflects his own image. Not just his power, but his unselfish love, mercy and tender compassion. Tragically, because we are human, and sinful, our rule has often been characterised by cruelty, greed and short-sightedness, but this was clearly not God's intention. If we desire to obey God, then we must look for ways in which we can be good and responsible stewards of the natural world.

The environment is an issue of justice. Often it is the poor who suffer first when the environment is damaged.

Those who care about the environment can easily become depressed. The news is so often profoundly disturbing: the destruction of forests, the disintegration of coral reefs, the extinction of species, over-fishing, global warming and a multitude of other disasters and gloomy forecasts can cause us to wonder if there is any point in even trying to take action. But the Bible provides much-needed grounds for hope. The Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Hosea foretell a time of human and environmental harmony. In the New Testament, Jesus is described not just as the Saviour of fallen mankind, but as the one for whom all creation was made - and as the one through whom all creation will one day "be liberated from its bondage to decay" (Colossians 1, verses 15-17; Romans 8, verses 19-23). We do not know how all this will be accomplished, but we are given motivation and hope. We can be sure that the Almighty God who created and sustains his world wants all his people to be actively involved in his great plan to redeem the whole of creation.

This is just a brief introduction to the biblical basis of A Rocha's work.


Anonymous said...

Is the creation getting better, or is it clearly getting worse? If Jesus's "already" and "not-yet" kingdom ,for creation, were to show the similar trend, for souls being saved, then how come we see the ever deteriorating state of our planet? The gospel seems to be only working spiritually and morally, and we can see that scientifically and intellectually, sin still reigns supreme as we speed towards climate change, something so big it might just take his 2nd coming to reverse.

Hedonese said...

Well, sin does not reign supreme in any place in the universe. God does. Sin is this puny attempt to rebel and it affects us spiritually, morally and even in the natural realm... creation groans for redemption... so the gospel works to reverse all that in a world that seems to get worse morally, intellectually, naturally... in all these realms only God can bring final redemption but it does mean that the church can play a role as agents of transformation while we wait :)

Anonymous said...

In the dark periods of history where Christianity has been used as an unwitting "partner-in-crime" - Dark Ages, colonialism, industrialization - we've seen alot of destruction of the natural creation alongside the spread of the gospel. Wouldn't it seem like God is allowing the advancement of soul-saving at the cost of the environment? Altho climate change was due mainly to sinful human disregard to nature in the past 100 years or so, creation care has really been a recent realisation. Are we supposed to view this global ecological crisis as another opportunity for the gospel to spread?

Hedonese said...

Well, just because Saul persecuted the church and sent them scattering all over the place with the gospel doesn't mean that God desires or is unconcerned about the suffering of his people per se :)

In fact when Jesus confronted Saul on the road to damascus he says why are you persecuting ME?

Whenever the gospel is preached with colonialism or violence as a front, I think history (esp in China) shows that it really hinders rather than advances the work of God. People are offended and put off, thinking gospel = colonialism when it actually deconstructs it.

In the same way, I think God cares about his creation, the well being of people (safe frm witch hunts) as well as the advancement of the gospel.

Think what strides wud be made for the kingdom if the gospel is proclaimed in both Word and Deed, showing social justice as well as a message of reconciliation to all