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Creation Care as Discipleship

Thus, in stewarding creation we care not only for our own needs but our families’ and global neighbors’ needs. As we realize how environmental issues impact the poor and vulnerable, and as we work to address those issues, we show God’s heart for their holistic flourishing in the earth—body, mind, soul, and spirit. This allows justice to “roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). In that way, creation care becomes truly an integral part of the Great Commandment and whole-life discipleship.

Cultivating a New Perception of Christianity

Disciples of Jesus will love God and others (the Great Commandment, Luke 10:27) and bring the good news of God’s redemption to all peoples (the Great Commission, Matt. 28:18–20). But often, people passionate about the health of the planet and its plants and animals—but who do not know the Creator—may lack opportunity to cross paths with Christians with “good news,” only Christians who oppose their beliefs.

Creation care offers Christians a fourth opportunity to love and serve others. By cultivating a changed perception of Christian faith in the minds of their neighbors, believers can help open their hearts to the gospel. With regard to the environment, the only notion some people have of Christians is that they believe the earth is going to “burn up” anyhow and that they are on our way to heaven, so all that “environmental stuff” doesn’t matter. Such a careless attitude by God’s children toward His creation, however, is poor testimony to those who do not yet know Him.19

Christians need to properly understand what the Bible really says about the earth and then respond to that renewed awareness. Involved in creation care, they will undoubtedly rub shoulders with new-agers, pagans, nature worshippers, atheists, pantheists, and others who need to see Christians and Scripture in a better light. As others experience gracious, loving, careful, obedient, Christ followers stewarding God’s creation, they too may be drawn to the Creator by the Spirit of God. Showing the biblical basis of creation care will help pre-Christians see God’s intent for the world and help diminish the bad image of Christians ready to abuse the earth because of its supposed future annihilation.

Christian participation in cooperative ventures with pre-Christian environmentalists will help build friendships and trust. Through this interaction, believers can share their faith and communicate that the reason they care for the earth is directly related to who God is, His desire for humankind, how He participates in the world, and where we can find ourselves in that plan. Caring for what God cares for demonstrates what an obedient disciple looks like—thoughtful, considerate, understanding of the earth, and not antithetical to science but valuing the partnership between faith and science. Such Christians can gain a voice with those who might otherwise write off the Christian faith.

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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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