Welcome back friends! Here is the rest of the interview from 2 weeks ago. I hope you enjoy:
Christians believe that Jesus is going to return and renew our earth, has this mindset affected how Christians treat the world now? What type of responsibilities should Christians embody when it comes to taking care of our earth?
Yes, the Christian Scriptures clearly teach that Jesus will one day restore/renew all things in heaven and on earth – it is a universal, cosmic restoration (Col. 1:20). The restoring work of Christ is as wide as creation itself, it is not limited to people only (people are the center of that restoration, but not the circumference – that is the rest of creation). Unfortunately, not all Christians have allowed this important truth to be represented or reflected in their lifestyle – particularly as it relates to how they treat and steward creation around them. For some it has, and for that I am grateful. As Christ followers (as this goes all the way back to the Creation account in Genesis) we have a responsibility to practice what is called ecological justice – to steward our land responsibly and with care.
I love how many neighborhoods and churches are putting this into practice by creating community gardens, being intentional with recycling projects and events, and making sure pastors drive a Prius. These are just some ways to demonstrate responsibility. A number of years ago, I heard about a church that wanted to build a new facility by using only recyclable products – now that’s commitment! To have dominion over the land (to use a Genesis expression) does not mean to dominate it, it means to steward it wisely as a gift from God – not just for our generation, but for all other generations to follow; that is why we are to “till and keep” the land (allow the land to serve us while at the same time preserving it … serve and preserve as the saying goes).
The Incarnation teaches us many things – and one of those things it teaches us, is that matter matters to God … so it should matter to us. So why not take a moment right now and go hug a tree - also, look at it directly and say, “I am Root”, and see what happens.
Many Christians use church doctrines (teachings) as a form of judgement over/against people – what are your thoughts on this?
As the Apostle Paul put it, the goal of all doctrine/instruction is love (see 1 Timothy 1:5). Let me unpack this a bit by sharing what I believe truth to be all about.
What sets people free is truth – not truth as a rational entity, but as a relational one. Jesus says it is the truth that frees us, and that he himself is truth – so it is a relationship with Jesus that ultimately sets us free – free to being and living into all that God created us to be. And Jesus was pretty clear about his mission on earth – he did not come to condemn (i.e. judge) the world but to save it (see John 3:17).
I love how the Beloved disciple describes truth: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 Jn. 3:18). Here we see that John equates truth, not with words or speech, but with loving action. Truth is love that is embodied in an action towards someone – that is what I mean by truth being a relational enterprise, not a rational one. In saying this, I am not saying truth is irrational – far from it! Truth solely as a rational entity becomes a fact, and facts do not set people free. For example, Fact: Jesus is Lord – that will not set you free; Truth: embrace Jesus as Lord in your life – that will set you free … you see the difference?
It is therefore, my conviction, that doctrine, church teachings, Biblical instruction, etc. are ultimately about bringing liberation and freedom to people – similar to putting a fish stuck on a beach back in water or an uprooted plant back into good soil and sunlight (or at the least, pouring water over the fish and giving the plant a taste of healthy soil/sunlight). The water we were created to swim in, the soil we were meant to be planted in, is love. So, when we connect with people in love, patiently and intentionally overtime, (not holding their sins against them – remember that is the kind of love Jesus exhibited [see 2 Cor. 5:19 along with 1 Cor. 13:4-8]) we are bringing the water, the soil and the sunlight they need! And in doing this we will awaken them to their inner most longing to be in a relationship with Jesus, and their hunger to jump into that divine water!
This is what the “perfect love” that John is writing about in 1 John 4:18 – a love that casts out fear and has nothing to do with punishment. Love is not judgmental, it is invitational. Jesus took on all judgement upon him by dying on the cross – ALL OF IT! So, I say, whatever the circumstance, the sin, the brokenness, the pain, the shame, the guilt is – let’s all move towards people with loving kindness and allow Love to prevail!
(Note: Some might ask, but what about all those harsh teachings of Jesus – like his 7 woes in Matthew 23 or his teaching in Matthew 25 about the sheep and the goats? That’s another blog for another time – but let me say this now, many have taken these verses [and many other similar ones] out of their unique context; and because of this have misunderstood what Jesus’ is teaching).
Thank you all for listening. I hope you enjoyed this first series of coffee chats. xoxo.