'When asked by pollsters, 90 percent of Americans identify themselves as 'kinder than average.' If we say we care about the least in the kingdom, if we identify ourselves as 'kinder than average,' if we see ourselves as responsible stewards of nature, then we are content. Contentment does not result in change.
The content mind is one of the greatest obstacles to a rich spiritual life. The content mind is a proud mind. It has nothing to learn; it has an answer to everything and no more questions to ask.' (62)
If you are wondering what this quote has to do with Creation Care I don't blame you for the quizzical look on your face.
One of the strengths of Serve God Save the Planet is the connection that its author Matthew Sleeth makes between personal spiritual growth, discipleship and Christian Environmental Ethics. The quote above is included in chapter 5 a Sleeth addresses the gap between concern and caring and action. It includes some interesting exegesis of the parable of the good Samaritan and some compelling statistics about the affects of pollution on the respiratory health of America's children.
What I really responded too was Sleeth's call to action, a call which the Church needs to wake it from its therapeutic and emotionally malaise. We are not called to simply have beliefs and be a part of a supportive community (although these are an important component of being church together). We are called to go into all the world carrying a cross and a story of God's amazing, sacrificing love which urges us to repent and live lives of active mercy and justice. Sleeth's firm but gentle critique of a church in the rut of inaction is refreshing...
To move from thought to action, we must feel some discomfort with who we are... he says on pg 73 and he is talking about the environment but he could also be talking about poverty, human trafficking, shrinking sunday school attendance, and the list could go on and on.
I have long felt that a church that engages in learning about, practicing, teaching creation care would find that the process would challenge other areas of our lives as a church and as disciples that have atrophied. But that the practice of creation care would also inspire deeper and more authentic and intentional forms of spiritual discipline, faith formation and service.
the question that haunts me is this; how do you a grow a church that attempts to cause discomfort and not simply be comfortable and comforting?