As I sat down to post some reflections on Good Friday and Earth Day I decided to browse what others had to say about it. My browsing led me to my first encounter with Twitter. Yes, my FIRST encounter with it. But what I found was interesting. Here are a few selected “tweets” I came across:
“Today, I’d rather celebrate how God found Earth and its inhabitants worth redeeming to restoration than celebrate Earth Day.”
“REMINDER: Jesus was passionate about saving people on this day…not saving the earth… Matthew 24:35”
“Going green by drying my white clothes in the Sun. the Sun is best whitener in the universe.”
“Good Friday and Earth Day: the clashing of 2 worship movements.”
“Today is Good Friday AND Earth Day – Two reasons to celebrate the greatest gifts God gave us: our Worth & our Earth.”
As I read tweets, skimmed blogs and perused news articles it seemed most people fell into one of three camps. In the first camp included people who seemed content to give out a quick, good-natured “Happy Earth Day/Good Friday” and then return to their normal lives without a thought as to the significance or meaning of either of the two. The second camp included those who were either pro-Earth Day or pro-Good Friday…not really giving much acknowledgement to the other. The final camp seemed to pit the two against each other as in the tweet above “the clashing of 2 worship movements.” Then there are a few that fell into a fourth camp – the camp that sees the inherent value in both days and sees how they don’t need to be pitted against each other but that reflecting on them together this year can provide new and helpful insights. I tend to fall in this fourth camp.
It has been a journey over the past couple years as I have tried to live a greener lifestyle…as I have become an advocate, even, of environmental issues, especially as they relate to justice and Jesus. As I reflect on the big picture this Good Friday I am reminded of James Choung’s gospel presentation method – true/big story. Admittedly, it isn’t my go-to method of presenting the gospel, but I think it is especially poignant for today.
Here’s a link to him running through it quickly: The Big Story
If you don’t want to watch the clip, here’s my paraphrase (I admit watching the clip and stealing some of his language as I type this): The world was created for good – that we were created to be in a good relationship with God, with each other and with the planet, but it’s pretty obvious that it isn’t that way today. The world is messed up with a ton of crap: war, terrorism, pollution, hunger…etc. It’s not operating as it was intended because we thought we could run it better than God could – we could take care of ourselves and the planet and we didn’t need his help. We wanted to do things our way. In our selfish pursuit of doing it on our own we damaged our relationship with God, with each other and with the planet. The good news is God loves the planet and us to much to leave us in this damaged state so he sent His son to earth. He began to teach us a better way to live and taught about the kingdom of God. In his death all the crap in the world died with him and three days later when he came back to life it made new life possible. The new life he taught and talked about…new life in our relationship with Him, with others and with the planet. Everything is being restored for better. Our response to all this? This world is still messed up, but Jesus wants to change that so He’s asking us to be healed in his name and our mission is to go out and heal the planet and relationships – we are sent together to heal. We can’t do it without Jesus…the worlds problems are infinite and its easy to get overwhelmed. We need Jesus’ resources so we can become the kind of good we want to see on the planet.
Earth Day and Good Friday can and do intersect. We have to be careful not to minimize the significance of Good Friday and what Jesus did for us on the cross – the burden He bore – by worshiping the environmental movement or the earth – but I think we have to recognize that our relationship with God’s creation was broken at the fall and that he does want us to care for it. A discipline too many Christians don’t think about. The modern environmentalist movement is missing a significant piece – the piece that God is the one that created what they so passionately care for and that this earth, this planet is a reflection of the Creator. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” – Psalm 19:1 I also think as Christians we miss a piece – the piece that we should care for those heavens and skies, and trees and waters that declare the majesty and glory of our King. Perhaps in our efforts to be more green this year in celebration of Earth Day we’ll let creation point us to the Creator of the heavens and the earth – the One who took our place for the damage we have done to our relationship with him, with others, and yes…to the earth – the One whose sacrifice we remember on Good Friday – the One who overcame the grave and the One who gave us new life.
A couple of links/book recommendations for further reflection:
1. Are Earth Day and Good Friday an unholy alliance? – A thoughtful and good blog post I found
2. Replacing God with Gaia? – Another post I found – I tend to think a bit defensively when reading it…isn’t it okay for the church to be mindful of recycling and other creation care steps on Earth Day/Good Friday? What are your thoughts?
3. The book Green Revolution – Simply. Fantastic.