I got an email the other day asking me to sign a petition (Actually, I have received 2 emails at the time of posting this).
This petition was against Nestle and the fact that they are “supposedly” bottling spring water in California. Now that may not sound like something to be protesting or signing a petition about, but it is when you consider what is happening. Right now, all of California is experiencing a violent drought—one of the worst that they have seen in recent history. It has gotten to the point where water is completely rationed. No washing your car. No watering the lawn. I have heard some people talk about people that have been hit the hardest having to limit their showers. Not limiting time spent in the shower, limiting the number of showers that they have a week. There is just no water in California.
One could say something about the whole state being a virtual desert, and one should expect that there are going to be seasons where there is no rain. But this would be ignorant. Yes, California is home to some very extreme weather, but there are human lives at risk.
What little water there is, what little water could help sustain the lives of Californians is apparently being bottled, for a dirt cheap price, and being sold all over the world.
The petitioning email asked me to add my name to the growing list of concerned individuals around the world. Would I do my part, would I raise my voice in protest against Nestle? The email is still sitting in my inbox. I’m not sure how to respond. Not because I don’t care about the people of California. Not because their supposed actions are depriving people of a necessity. No, I haven’t answered because I’m not sure how this will effect or how it makes my spiritual convictions look. As a christian, am I called to a life of protest and picketing? Is that what Jesus would do?
It would be really easy if there was a single verse, maybe in Paul’s epistles, that would address this issue. It could say something like,
“And when the government or ruling cooperations do what is evil in your sight, protest and sign petitions so that they will change their ways.”
Unfortunately, there is no such verse.
So what is a Christian supposed to do?
In our B.A.M. series (Be A Man) we talked about the role that men play—although it also applies to women—that God gave to our father Adam. You can read the whole article here, but I’ll give you a quick summary now to get to the questions and thoughts that I have.
After God created humanity, He gave them the command to have dominion over the Earth. This was not a command to establish men and women as selfish kings and queens, with other people and the resources of the Earth being used for their end. Instead, God desired that men and women would be selfless caretakers. They would use their power and authority as those with dominion over the Earth to give it order, to keep it safe and to use what the Earth offered in a responsible manner. This is not just the command for our father Adam. This was the command to the first of humanity for all of humanity. This is a lasting law that God has established, one that has been largely neglected in the church, but one that still stands and demands obedience.
As a Christian, as someone that is earnestly seeking to obey God, I feel that I must sign this petition. If I am going to take what God said seriously, if I am going to take my responsibility as a selfless caretaker of the Earth seriously, then I need to be acting like it. And that seems to dictate that I should sign this petition. Right? If someone is being irresponsible with what the Earth has, if someone is misusing or mistreating God’s creations, whether they are animal, plant, or mineral, shouldn’t I say and do something? Do I not bear part of the responsibility to do what is right?
Yes, I know that signing a petition is a very small thing, but it is an action towards correcting the evil. I sat and let that thought stir in my mind and soul for a while. That was until I had a counter thought, something that Christians also need to think about.
While we do need to take seriously the call of God to care for the Earth and be responsible with what it gives us, that isn’t all that our faith is.
Christianity is not a petition based website that sends you emails everyday with a list of new injustices being committed on the Earth. Christianity isn’t a club that you join because they do good work. Christianity isn’t a group statement about what we do not like in the government or in the corporate sector. Christianity is a faith. It is a trusting relationship with Jesus Christ, one that is experienced privately and publicly. Privately because this relationship with Jesus is between you and Him, but it is also public because Christianity is a community based faith. We gather together, as a family, the Scriptures say, and honour our Lord and Saviour. We may have our websites with daily emails, but that is an extension of our faith, not the core of it. We may talk about what we do not like, but that isn’t what we are all about. At least it shouldn’t be. Our faith, our Scriptures, they are about humanity’s spiritual condition. They are not primarily about politics and ecosystems and mineral rights. Christianity is more focused on the soul than they are on the trees in the Amazon or the well being of the killer whales in SeaWorld. And rightfully so, humans are the most unique creators on the Earth. We alone were made in the image of God. Not lions, or tigers, or bears. Not any water dwelling creator or anything that flies in the sky. We are the creation that God desired a special relationship with, and then went out of His way to see that relationship restored. This is more important than the minerals of the Earth, or what is happening with water in California, in a sense. Christianity is about more than the physical plane of existence. It is bigger than just what is happening now on the planet.
We should be devoting our time and energy into preaching this gospel of a relationship restored with God. That is what Christianity is. Not picketing and protesting government rulings. Not signing petitions and fighting to see things made right. Right?
These may seem like two completely conflicting ideas, and they are. Both of them started to swarm and plague my brain. They attacked one another in my soul, saying that they were the right course of action to take. And even now, I am conflicted. My faith is not limited to just protesting and petitioning. My faith is so much more than that. But at the same time, my faith includes the care and concern for the Earth and its resources.
So, I find myself in a place where I am not sure what to do.
What do you think?
Should Christians be worried about signing petitions and picketing governments and corporations? Or should they spend their time doing “The Lord’s Work”, preaching and teaching the Gospel?
Let me know in the comment section.
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