Why aren't Christians mourning the oil spill?
By Jonathan Merritt
The most destructive oil leak in U.S. history has been devastating: 11 people are dead, approximately 20 million gallons of oil now drift along the western coast of Florida, destroying or threatening untold numbers of birds and marine wildlife, and wreaking unknown economic damage on our southernmost state. Why aren't Christians diluting the oil-stained waters with tears?
Christians believe that God created everything we now see, including the oceans, fish, and birds. Natural forces under God's watch have shaped the coastlines and allowed life to flourish. In the book of Genesis, we find a God who repeatedly calls the creation "good" and charges human beings with the task of protecting and caring for it. Have we failed?
Furthermore, the scriptures tell the story of a God who has buried divine revelation in the world. The psalmist says that the creation "declares the glory of God" and the apostle Paul says that nature communicates God's attributes to human beings. When we look at the immeasurable damage caused by this crisis, we must ask, "Does this glorify the one who made all of this?"
We are tempted to see this as merely an economic crisis, focusing on the nearly one billion dollars of oil lost and the way this might affect domestic gas prices. But the Christian tradition tells of a God who is more concerned about whether or not life flourishes as he intended. The scriptures say that God loves all he has made. It tells us that God watches over the doe during pregnancy and he notices if a single sparrow falls from the sky. Should we not also infer that he has taken note of the destruction of life in the Gulf?
A recent article on Houston Belief titled, "Few Christian leaders respond to the oil spill in The Gulf," pointed out the deafening silence from faith leaders on this issue. It seems many leaders in the Christian establishment have been too busy posturing themselves in support of Arizona's new immigration law to think theologically about the oil spill.
This is not a time for posturing. It is a time for mourning, prayer, and action. We must rise to meet the needs of those families who are affected and pray that this disaster does not further ravish people who have already been overwhelmed by so much. And we must also get to work restoring the devastated creation that God has asked us to care for. With tears and resolve, we can be a big part of a solution to a problem we helped create.
Jonathan Merritt is author of "Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet" (FaithWords, 2010).
Posted by: Thomas Baum | June 2, 2010 11:06 AM
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