Evangelical Christians are in need of a conversion about their role as stewards of the environment, according to a prominent Evangelical official who preached April 10 at the Washington National Cathedral.
“God sees each of us individually, and he calls us his children in the Kingdom of God, and he asks us first, in Genesis, to be stewards of his creation,” declared New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good President Richard Cizik. “Why do we not see that?”
Speaking on the third Sunday of Easter, Cizik addressed the congregation of the Episcopal cathedral, but his message was squarely aimed at fellow Evangelical Christians, who he maintained were lacking in his own understanding of the urgency of environmental concerns.
Citing an Evangelical Theological Society study of scholarly papers over a 30-year period, Cizik noted that less than one percent drew any connection between the doctrine of creation and man’s responsibility.
“No wonder millions are living as though it doesn’t matter,” Cizik stated. “Some on the Right get it wrong because they think that the fall into sin has diminished creation – once created good is now evil, and is simply passing away. We can abuse creation, dominate and exploit it without guilt or shame. They do believe this.”
Recalling an encounter with a student at a chapel in Abilene, Texas who challenged him saying “it doesn’t matter, Jesus is coming back,” Cizik replied to the young man that God asked him to be his steward until he returns.
The former National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) official stated that some on the Left believe it is “our job, our calling” to restore the goodness to creation and that “ours is the work of being good people”.
Recalling a visit with an environmentalist from Maine who claimed the trees sent him, Cizik replied, “For me, it is the salvific work of Christ” that drove special concern for the environment.
Cizik compared climate change skeptics to the biblical persecutor Saul, who in the book of Acts sees Jesus and is blinded.
“Human beings are in rebellion against God and suppress the truth – faith comes by the supernatural work of God’s spirit in regenerating a person – given that they are our friends then (many of whom do follow Jesus) and yet do not see any responsibility to address the care of creation or the coming catastrophe called climate disruption – what gives?” Cizik asked. “What is this blindness?”
“A significant percentage of Americans believe climate change is a lie – a conspiracy,” Cizik reported. “But they also think green lizards run the government. But there is a blindness. It comes from seeing one’s self as lord of this world, not a steward in the Kingdom of God.”
Cizik proposed that Christians needed to “open our eyes – to behold”. Noting that Jesus used the word “behold” regularly, including from the cross, Cizik added “and we, I would suggest, as stewards have to really behold the world differently.”
The former NAE Vice President for Government Affairs described his 2002 “conversion” to concern about environmental causes as an “identity moment”, “My Peter moment, if you will – I was denying the Lord.”
“What changed? I changed.” Cizik shared his realization that the Genesis 2:15 passage in the Hebrew “means to be caretakers, not just takers.”
A turn in a new direction – a metanoia, in Greek, was required, Cizik proposed: “Millions in our churches need a metanoia … to be born again is just the beginning, not the end, my Evangelical friends.”
Cizik, who attends an Evangelical Anglican congregation in Fredericksburg, Virginia, praised the Mainline Protestant Cathedral, known for its social activism on environmental and a number of progressive causes.
“Stewarding of creation belongs to the church – I’m so happy to be here, [National Cathedral Vicar] Stewart [Kenworthy], and every one of you here, because you do teach this here, God bless you,” Cizik cheered.
Cizik proposed that church members must be converted and teach others, “not to another political philosophy or ideology, but to Jesus.”
“We must act more boldly for creation and justice – call it a moral conversion to one’s civic duty,” the climate activist declared. “The more we experience Christ’s love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and spiritual power, the more we love him, and the more we care for this planet.”
“Lord, forgive us for not loving you enough, or loving the things you love: the creation,” Cizik concluded.Google+