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Creation Care as Discipleship

What has God called you to do? In this chapter from Your Call to Work & Mission: Following Jesus 24/7, Lois Olena shows why and how followers of Jesus should participate in caring for the creation God has made.

It’s Sunday morning, and your adult class welcomes the day’s speaker. She steps up to the microphone and begins talking about the environment. The “E” word! “Oh my,” you wonder, “Is this church turning liberal? Has it started down the path of political correctness that will lead to new age, tree-hugging, nature worship—against which the Bible warns” (Rom. 1:25).

Image: Tim Swaan

You cringe as the speaker continues on about the state of the earth. She shares statistics about air and water pollution, water scarcity, the destruction of rainforests, global warming, and desperate polar bears. Your mind questions, “Isn’t this just propaganda?” She goes on about the state of our oceans and waterways, biodiversity issues, habitat destruction, extinction of species, depletion of the ozone layer, and more.

Overwhelmed, your head swims, and your blood pressure rises. “What can I do about all this?” You think, “Besides, isn’t the earth going to just burn up anyhow at the end of days?1 What difference will it make if I recycle in the face of such massive global problems?” You let out a quiet sigh and find yourself wishing this class would focus on something relevant to living as a disciple of Jesus.

“Creation Care as Discipleship” by Lois E. Olena is chapter 12 in Stephen Lim, ed., Your Call to Work & Mission: Following Jesus 24/7 Whole-Life Discipleship (AGTS, 2015). Available from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary online bookstore.

Too often these questions characterize the Christian approach to what has traditionally been called “environmentalism.” Believers have approached the topic of care for the earth with doubt and confusion. How we answer such questions, however, depends on the extent to which we can understand the why of God’s call to steward creation and how to do so.

Why Should Christians Care for Creation?2

Believers should care about creation because of what is happening to it. But even more important for Christians is what God’s Word says about it. Let’s look at both reasons.

Environmental Realities

It only takes a few moments of searching the Internet using phrases such as, “state of the environment,” “global warming,” or “pollution,” in order to see the earth’s “groanings” written about so long ago by the Apostle Paul (Rom. 8:22). Although various political, scientific, and religious groups differ on the causes of these realities—most contemporary environmental maladies are easily recognizable as crises in need of increased human awareness, cooperation, and action in order to improve global health.3 Global realities require that we tend to the earth if creation is to avoid continuing damage and thrive as God intended. To show no concern for these environmental realities, notes biblical scholar Christopher J. H. Wright, is “to be either desperately ignorant or irresponsibly callous.”4

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2016

About the Author: Lois E. Olena, D.Min. (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary), is Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Jewish Studies and the D.Min. Project Coordinator at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. She also served as Executive Director of the Society for Pentecostal Studies (2011-2016). Her publications include Stanley M. Horton: Shaper of Pentecostal Theology (Gospel Publishing House, 2010), co-editor/co-author with Eric Newberg of Children of the Calling: Essays in Honor of Stanley M. Burgess and Ruth V. Burgess (Pickwick, 2014), and numerous book chapters, articles, and reviews. She is presently finalizing (with Margaret de Alminana) a co-edited/co-authored volume for Brill’s Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies series. AGTS Faculty page

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