Written by: Dr. Mok Chiu Yau (CEDAR China Programme Advisor)
When presented with so many suffering and adversities on earth, Christians usually respond with sympathy, expressed by charitable giving and voluntary services. But gradually, Christians may realise that the problem of suffering is too heavy and difficult to solve, therefore they think that the paramount thing is to evangelise people. The belief is that once a person (who suffers) knows Christ, he or she can have strength to persevere in the world’s suffering, be comforted by fellowship members, and eventually enters into heaven after death and never suffers. Yet, such belief is a one-sided understanding of God’s mission to believers.
God’s mission to believers is a holistic mission. We can understand it based on two biblical aspects. First, God’s mission is the foundation of our mission. Second, God’s mission is the mission of the Kingdom of God, meaning God exercising His sovereignty and transforming the heaven and earth. Believers should take obedience of and witness His sovereignty.
In September 2015, the image of the body of the Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, washed up on the shores of Mediterranean Sea, drew the attention of the globe to the European refugee crisis and the wars in Middle East. Just a month ago in April, the equally disheartening image of a Syrian father holding the bodies of his little twins died from chemical attacks has once again stirred people’s sentiments.
[ ‘SHARE’ Jan-Feb 2013 – Green Notes Or Green Life? ] TAKING ACTION
Author> Dr. Chris FUNG
Environmental protection is the secular version of Creation care – the biblical task given to every person. For Christians, it starts with a grateful heart for what God has provided us through nature directly or indirectly. Directly: treasuring nature’s provision of clean air, water, food, sunshine, ventilation, shade …. prompts us to minimize our disruption to nature after appropriating from it no more than we need. Indirectly: appreciating the work of others in providing for our other needs – food, clothing, running water, medicine, electricity …. would prompt us to conserve and to act justly towards each other, e.g. paying a ‘fair’ price for what we use.
With these guiding lights, we naturally practise what society calls ‘green’, but our faith takes us further. When the Bible is read properly from beginning to end, with God’s first creation (Gen 1), Jesus’ life, death & bodily resurrection and the renewed creation (Rev 21&22) as fixed references, we understand what God’s redemption encompasses, how and through whom God is effecting this redemption. This holistic awareness, rather than the piecemeal attempt to extract quick ‘biblical’ answers to fit our agenda, would lay a strong foundation for our actions. Organising such Bible discovery sessions would enrich us with many refreshing findings.
This understanding could lead to countless creative ways to fulfill our divine mission, from ‘green’ baby diapers to paper coffins and anything in between. An example: I usually wait to share an elevator with others and then tell the grateful co-passenger my reason for doing so – creation care.
The conclusion: creation care tends to both human and nature’s needs. This stands in irreconcilable opposition to ecological degradation and human poverty, which are two sides of the same disharmony. A practical remedy then is to give whatever money one saves through creation care to build up the needy.
Dr. Chris Fung works in the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department. Out of office, he endeavours to mobilise poverty alleviation and environmental protection. In recent years, he is also keen on sharing the relationship of Sabbath and theology of creation care, including a published paper in a journal of theology. Besides research and study, Chris also practises creation care thoroughly in his daily life: He prepares a lunch box everyday, goes to Wan Chai to work and back to Midlevels on foot; only brings a small towel and a few clothes for a trip overseas, and seldom turns on the air conditioner even in hot summer.