July 4, 2010
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
<![CDATA[The growing environmental crisis in the (Mexican) Gulf, following the breakage of the BP oil pipe, is doing something unexpected to evangelical environmental concerns: there is a developing tenderness. Dr. Moore, Senior Vice President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes winsomely and captivatingly about his epiphany after his recent exposure to the issue in the Gulf area.
Liberal agenda?For some reason, being willing to say that polluting things is bad, makes people sick, and ruins peoples’ lives can sound to some ears like a ‘liberal’ agenda. I’m not sure why. Well, I could have a go at explaining it, extrapolating from various historical antecedents and shifts in emphasis from a God-centred gospel to a social gospel, or that tendency for the discussion to be hijacked by those with Mother Earth, Gaia, ‘crunchy’, organic, no-deodorant kind of agendas. But, on the other hand, millions of barrels of oil spilling into the sea is a problem in no uncertain terms; it kills people and cultures, destroys habitats for God’s creation. And more.
Buying timeI actually personally have some sympathy for D.L. Moody’s famed quotation that caring about social justice matters, or the equivalent, is merely ‘polishing brass on a sinking ship’. Except the end will be by fire (2 Peter 3.10-13), not water. That sympathy is not just because we share a name… there is a real tendency today so to emphasise the social, the cultural, the environmental, the corporate, the roles of justice, and care for the poor, that we lose the emphasis that we must have on public and personal verbal witness to the gospel that saves. But, as saved people, we are to be ‘salt and light’. And, as most commentators seem to agree, being salt means acting as a moral preservative, salt being the ancient world’s equivalent of a refrigerator to stop meat going bad. Our actions, our deeds and our lifestyle, morally speaking, are intended to have a preservative effect on the world around us. Culturally. Morally. And, yes, surely, environmentally. We are buying time for people to repent and turn to Christ. We are witnessing to the creation order all around us.
Creation mandateWe are fulfilling a ‘creation mandate’ (though that phrase can be overdone, perhaps, as I heard someone say recently). We are Great Commandment people (Love God, Love your Neighbour), as well as Great Commission people — in John Stott’s memorably synthesis. I’m not an instinctive environmentalist. I like efficiency and speed and getting things done, fast food and a fast lifestyle. But I suspect a visit to the Gulf might make anyone tender.]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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