How Becoming a ‘Tree-Hugger’ Can Change Your Faith

Dr. Matthew Sleeth loves trees. Not just because they are beautiful, but because he believes they can teach us a lot about God’s nature.

In his new book Reforesting Faith: What Trees Teach Us About the Nature of God and His Love for Us, he unpacks the significance of one of the Bible’s most prevalent symbols.

We recently spoke with Dr. Sleeth about the book, the spiritual lessons we can learn from trees and the importance of protecting creation.

 

What drew you to these parallels between nature and deeper spiritual lessons?

It really began when I volunteered to plant trees around my church, and the pastor said I have the theology of a tree hugger. He didn’t mean it as a compliment.

I thought maybe my theology was wrong, so I went to scripture and read from Genesis to Revelation, and what I found astounded me. Trees are the most-mentioned living thing in scripture other than God and people.

There’s a tree on the first page of the Bible. We’re told to be a tree in the first Psalm. There’s a tree on the first page of the New Testament and on the last page of scripture. Every major event in scripture has a tree marking the spot. So what I found in scripture was different than what I was seeing and hearing in the church.

 

I’d like to start at the beginning, then. What can you tell me about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil mentioned in Genesis?

Well, the garden is filled with trees. If you highlighted every sentence that has a tree in it in the first three chapters of the Bible, you’ll highlight a third of scripture.

We’re told trees are beautiful in God’s sight. We’re told our place is among the trees. We are told our work was to dress and keep them or protect and tend them, and that’s where we started.

There are two particularly important trees, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and we’re told not to eat from [the latter] and that’s God assigning human agency to us. We are allowed to choose right from wrong, and of course, we made the wrong choice.

When everything goes upside down and Adam and Eve realize they are naked, they go undress the tree and tear fig leaves off a fig tree. When they hear God’s voice, they run and they hide behind trees, so trees are absolutely pivotal to understanding why the world is as messed up as it is today.

 

Another reference is the time Jesus cursed the fig tree. It’s a hard parable to understand. Is that something you were able to wrestle with when writing the book?

I think there’s a couple things going on there. First of all, the ficus family of trees is the only tree Jesus ever says by name. A fig is the first mentioned tree in scripture that we can identify, and it is the symbol of the separation between us and God. We were in communion with the Lord, but after the first sin we tried to hide ourselves with the fig leaves, and so the fig becomes a symbol of that separation.

That story [of Jesus cursing the fig tree] has two meanings: One is that a tree should not only have leaves, but bear fruit. We’re told that with our lives, we’re to not just exist but be fruitful. [Secondly] in the story in which Jesus calls Nathaniel as His disciple, Jesus knows exactly who Nathaniel is because He saw him under the fig tree. That’s Jesus’ way of saying there’s no more hiding from the Lord behind fig trees. I’m here. I see you.

 

What’s the significance of the tree as it relates to the cross?

God wrote this Bible and the story of redemption using trees. The only thing that can kill Jesus is a tree. To really unpack that you have to look at how many times people tried to kill Jesus. They tried to stab him as an infant, that didn’t work; they tried to stone him; they tried to throw him off a cliff. The only way you can kill Jesus is with a tree and Jesus knows that.

He’s telling His disciples, ‘I must be raised up on a tree.’ As we look back in the book of Deuteronomy, we find this curious line that ‘He who hangs on a tree is cursed,’ and Jesus has to take the curse on Himself that you and I rightfully deserve. Trees are essential to telling the gospel.

 

What was one thing that surprised you most while you were researching and writing this book?

I think it was just the sheer number of trees and their use [in the Bible] from one end to the other. The Bible refers to itself as a tree. The only thing Jesus ever harms is a tree, and the only thing that can harm Jesus is a tree.

Great Christian writers like Tolkien and Lewis and George D. MacDonald always cast the good guys as those who would take care of the trees and the bad guys as those who would [cut them down].

I think the big surprise for me is how far from the Bible the Church is today, [to the point where it’s] subtracting trees from the text. Some words I counted up in the Bible—tree, seed, leaf, branch, root and fruit—occurred 967 times in the King James Bible, but in the ESB they’ve been subtracted 230 times and in the NIV translation, 267. Our bible translators have literally taken these words out of scripture.

I’ll give you an example: We just went by Palm Sunday, and if you look at Mark 11:8 it says in modern translations that people went and cut branches in the fields. That’s ridiculous, you go and cut branches off trees, and that’s what it says in the Greek. Our theologians and translators have literally subtracted trees from scripture.

 

There seems to be such hostility toward ideas like climate change or other environmental initiatives. What would you suggest more Christians advocate for?

We have to recognize, first of all, in the United States we have the oldest, biggest trees. Not every country has been blessed like we are and some countries have not been as kind to their forests as we may have been.

There is a link between poverty and trees. If you take the most deforested country in the Western hemisphere—Haiti—it also happens to be the poorest. If you take the second-most deforested country in the Western hemisphere—Honduras—it happens to be the second poorest. I think we need to help those around the world who cannot afford to plant trees, and we need to take care of our own trees.

 

When you write this much about the way God puts an emphasis on nature and trees, does it influence your own perspective on conservation?

I believe the world is facing a number of environmental challenges in my part of the country. I live in Kentucky; the ash trees are virtually all going to die here. The lodge pole pines in the west are under a lot of stress at the moment, too. All over the world trees need our advocacy.

The first thing God put us on the planet to do was take care of the trees, and I hope that one of the outcomes of this book is that we’ll ask how we do that in a responsible manner that glorifies God.

What is your favorite tree and what meaning does it hold to you?

Sugar maple, hands down. It’s as if God got together with a committee of kids and they designed the perfect tree. I’ve seen them in their best latitude—northern New England—and they grow to massive size. They give syrup, the leaves are perfect…there’s just nothing I don’t like about a sugar maple.

 

Jesse Carey is an editor at RELEVANT and a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.

 

 

This article originally appeared in Relevant Online. 

Matthew 6.25-34: A Lesson from the Earth — part 2 of 7

Read part 1 of 7 (introduction) here.

When it comes to discovering eco-theology in the person of Jesus, scholars tell us to be careful.  It is easy to cast him in our own image; and he may have used agricultural and rural imagery in order to speak to an agricultural and rural age. If he lived in Manhattan, he may have talked about subways, stock markets and skyscrapers.  Verses like these alone cannot prove Jesus’s view toward stewardship and the earth.  We have to deal also with the fig trees that he withered, storms that he subdued and swine that he sent running to their destruction. If Jesus was a preservationist or a conservationist––and if we want to discover that in him––we have to get a bigger framework.

Scholars have pointed to the larger theme of God’s in-breaking Kingdom as a better starting point in understanding Jesus’s eco-theology.  Their big word for it is, “inaugurated eschatology.” All that means is that, in Jesus, God is not destroying the earth; he is renewing it and restoring it.  It started with Jesus’s ministry, death, and resurrection. That meant for Paul and means for us, that God’s new creation can start now.  Inaugurated eschatology means that God’s perfect kingdom will fully come to us in the future, but we can start experiencing it and living into God’s kingdom today.  See NT Wright’s creative article: “Jesus Is Coming – Plant a Tree.” A particularly good line of his reads, “I don’t know how my planting a tree today will relate to the wonderful trees that will be in God’s recreated world…but I know that God’s new world of justice and joy, of hope for the whole earth, was launched when Jesus came out of the tomb on Easter morning.”

Since I was curious about Jesus’s view of the earth, I’ve picked a verse that scholars tend to go to for answers: Matthew 6.25-34.  I’ve retranslated it from the original Greek. (I figured since I’m a PhD student, I can start doing things like, making new translations). Here’s what I’ve come up with:

“Because of what I am teaching you just now––even about how you cannot serve God and money––here’s what I have to say: don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or what you will wear.  Is your life filled by food or your body made special by what you wear?  You’re more than that. Look up to the birds of the sky: they do not scatter seeds, or harvest or build up their supplies in a silo.  Your father in heaven feeds them. Are you that different from them?  Okay, measure that length between your elbow and the tip of your finger. Who among you has the power to add that many inches to your height by worrying? Also why are you getting attached to your clothes? Take a lesson from the lilies of the field, how they grow.  They do not work hard until they are weary.  Nor do they sew. But I say to you that not even Solomon––in all his glory––arrayed himself like one of these.  But if God adorns the grass of the field, which is growing today and used for the flames of cooking tomorrow, then how much more will he look after you.  Therefore don’t worry or dwell on the day in your head over and over saying, “What will I eat, or what will I drink, or how I will adorn myself?” For the people all around you try to feed these anxieties. It’s simple: your father in heaven knows that you need to be filled. Seek first the Kingdom of God and his ways of living.  Then what you need will be there at the right time.  This is important, so I’ll say it again: don’t worry about tomorrow.  Tomorrow will worry about itself.   There is enough evil in one day.”  Matthew 6.25-34.

In this particular verse, Jesus is proclaiming a great restoration of creation. It is part of his larger, “Inaugurated Eschatology” plan. He is saying, “Your neighbors worry about what they will eat and wear.  And once, you went without clothes or food.  But if you trust in God, you will be clothed and full, just like the animals and flowers in the new creation, which is starting now.” This is a gutsy statement, because it depends on addicted people healing, and it depends on God’s people playing their part in “inaugurated eschatology.” Jesus is putting a lot of trust in the Holy Spirit and the church here. There are a couple more points to take from this verse: (1) the burning of grass you find at the end of Matthew 6 is not about the destruction of the world, like some people think.  It is a metaphor about God’s trustworthiness, which uses stove imagery. And (2) the Greek of this verse does not necessarily say, “Look at the birds of the field, are you not worth more than them”, as many translations say. It just as easily reads, “Are you that different from these?” This is not to diminish human worth; it is to elevate the worth of sparrows.  The worth of every creature in God’s eyes is something that can be shown throughout the Bible.  But (3) ultimately, this verse is about God’s provision and how crazy it is that we tend to worry so much about life.

Worrying about life has deeper consequences, more than we usually realize. The type of worry that Jesus is talking about is not the, “don’t worry about the problems of the world.” In fact, “Inaugurated Eschatology” insists that we play a role in feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.  That’s a different kind of worry. This is the: we’re like kids who wake up in the dark of midnight and worry if we are alone.  We cry out and question God.  And he comes––more often than we realize––and scoops us from our covers.  He holds us and sings us back to sleep for the night.  When we live for weeks, months, or years thinking that God never came to get us, we start thinking that life is up to us, our success is up to us, and our happiness is up to us.  And worry starts to drive us.  Worry starts to numb us.  And, though we can’t often see it, worry leads us to consuming more than we need.  And consuming more than we need leads to care-lessness for the earth and for our neighbors.

When we read Jesus’s words here we find a promise.  Life gets buried under worry; so stop worrying and find life.  Find in your heart that child-like self and the awe you forgot you had. Find your will to serve, the one that supports your 70-hour workweek.  Take it back for Jesus.  There are far bigger things to get on with, like becoming a living parable for God’s already-started kingdom.  You can join in the redemption and not the destruction of creation, now.  For Jesus, his view of creation came from the OT, particularly Psalm 24. And Psalm 24 defines creation like this: “the earth, all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it, for he has founded the seas, and established it on the rivers.”  When we join Jesus’s already-but-not-yet-kingdom, part of the deal is that we care for creatures great and small, humans and animals alike.  Maybe Jesus wasn’t thinking about creation care in Matthew 6. But when we look at his teaching here, in the framework of “inaugurated eschatology”, I’m convinced that we catch a glimmer of something deep in Jesus.  In this instance, we might just call it: “Jesus’s deep love for the fields.”

Resource Bundle:

Horrell, David G. “Jesus and the Earth: The Gospels and Ecology.” Chapter 6 in The Bible and the Environment: Towards a Critical Ecological Biblical Theology. Biblical Challenges in the Contemporary World. London: Equinox, 2010

Leske, Adrian. “Matthew6.25-34: Human Anxiety and the Natural World.” Chapter 2 in ed.  Norman Habel and Vikcy Balabanski, The Earth Story in the New Testament. Vol. 5. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.

Wallace, Mark I. “God is Green” Chapter 1 in Finding God in the Singing River: Christianity, Spirit, Nature. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005.


Keith Jagger first met the Sleeths when they were neighbors in Wilmore, Kentucky, and were brought together by their shared passion for creation care. After completing his studies at Asbury Seminary, Keith moved to Scotland to study with N.T. Wright. As Blessed Earth’s “Anglo Correspondent.” Keith writes both from the perspective a PhD student studying creation care and a husband/father/follower of Jesus struggling to incorporate creation care principles in his daily life.  You can read more of his writing at keithjagger.com or urban-abbey.com.

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And What Does God Require?

And what does God require regarding the domestic animal? Once again, the law codes of ancient Israel are full of instruction. God says in Deuteronomy: But the seventh day is a sabbath belonging to Yahweh your God; you shall not do any work, not you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your domesticated beasts … And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that Yahweh your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, Therefore, Yahweh your God has commanded you to keep the day of the sabbath. (Deut 5:14-15) So right here in the ten commandments, because God has saved his people, his people are commanded to honor Him by allowing their livestock to rest. As is true today livestock were maintained in Israel exclusively to facilitate the well-being of humanity. In Israel sheep, goats, cattle, oxen, and donkeys served the populace with wool, milk, meat, and sweat respectively. And of course, a 24-7 work week for those animals would have seemed the most advantageous economically from a human perspective. But in contrast to that assumed reality, these creatures are allotted a place in the sabbath ordinance of God. An Israelite was forbidden to consume the life and energy of his beast without compassion and care. Deut 25:4 is another law which addresses this topic. Here the Israelite is commanded not to muzzle his ox while he drags the threshing sledge for his master. In the smallholder farms of the Central Hill Country, the cereal crop was absolutely crucial to the survival of the community. And the Iron Age farmer relied heavily upon the labor of his beast for the long and arduous task of threshing (extracting the precious grain from the stalks in which it grew). Once cleaned and stored, this grain would serve as the primary food staple for man and beast. And in this subsistence economy, every kilo counted. Baruch Rosen, an Israeli archaeologist of notable reputation, has done an arresting calculation of exactly how many calories were necessary to sustain the average Israelite village of 100 souls. Operating off of data culled from the known Iron I villages, Rosen estimates that the typical village would experience an annual shortfall of 15,000,000 calories a year.[1] Anticipating that the average family included five souls, this would mean an annual shortfall of sixty days of food for the family. Why is this significant? Because it means that the three to four kilos (5-7 lbs) of grain that an ox might consume over the course of a day of threshing made a difference. Yet God commands Israel to allow the beast who served them the opportunity to enjoy its life and work and to benefit from the fruit of its labors. In other words, even the ox was allowed to feast on harvest day. Note that in Israel’s case, allowing their beasts the opportunity to enjoy the benefit and joy of their own labor would necessarily cut into the farmer’s profits, and in many cases even their essential food supply. So now we are forced to ask, how might these deuteronomic laws reflect on current practices in America—specifically the billions of animals who serve us in America’s factory farms? Factory farming is the practice of raising middle school boarding schools North CarolinaJake Housecomes to Citizen middle school boarding schools with a proven track record in both the private sector and education. href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farm_animals”>livestock in confinement at high-stocking density, where the farm operates essentially as a factory whose end product is protein units. Confined animals burn fewer calories, their excrement is mass-managed (or mismanaged as many argue), and their fertility and gestation fully controlled. As regards America’s most lucrative agricultural product, pigs, confinement has been distilled into an exact science: twenty 230 lb animals per 7.5 foot-square pen, housed upon metal-grated flooring, in climate controlled conditions, who are never actually exposed to the light of day. These animals are sustained in such crowded and filthy conditions that movement is difficult, natural behaviors impossible, and antibiotics are essential to the control of infection. Sows (typically a 500 lb creature) are separately housed, living out their lives in 7-foot by 22-inch metal gestation crates from which they are never released, even in the process of giving birth. They are artificially inseminated to deliver an average of eight litters, litters inflated beyond their natural carrying capacity by fertility drugs. A staple of their diet is the rendered remains of their deceased pen-mates. Surely if God is offended by boiling a kid in its mother’s milk (Deut 14:21), we should be concerned that dead sows are routinely ground up and fed to their offspring.[2] Reading of the standard treatment that these animals endure, one cannot help but think of Ezekiel’s outcry against the shepherds of Israel in Ezek 34:3-4: “You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, those with fractures you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.” But as the “New Agriculture” reports, all of these innovations make these production units (i.e. animate creatures) easier to manage, maintain, medicate and slaughter. And the rapidly escalating market for meat for human consumption, in the third world in particular, is voiced as the rationale for mass-confinement animal husbandry. As Matthew Scully painfully illustrates in his 2002 exposé of the industry, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy,in our country, the abuses to which domesticated animals are routinely subjected are nearly too horrific to report. This forces my heart to ask, is this what Yahweh intended for the creatures he entrusted to humanity’s care?


[1] Images of factory farming for beef, pork, and poultry may be found at http://www.farmsanctuary.org/

[2] “Subsistence Economy,” 348-49; cf. Rosen’s more detailed presentation of the same data in ; “Subsistence Economy of Stratum II,” Izbet S?artah: An Early Iron Age Site near Rosh Ha’ayin, 156-85); David C. Hopkins, “Life on the Land.”


Sandra Richter is Professor of Old Testament at Wesley Biblical Seminary and Affiliate Professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. She is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Harvard University’s Near Eastern Language and Civilizations department. She is a popular speaker and has published on an array of topics. Her most recent book is The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament (InterVarsity Press, 2008).

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Hugging the Tree of Life – 1 of 7

What scholars, bishops, and writers are saying about green readings of the New Testament

(Intro to a 7 part series)

You can’t trust an expert every time.  Humans make mistakes. But when it comes to our future, health, and wealth, we love to hear from the professionals.  And why shouldn’t we?  They’ve done more research than we have.  They’ve thought longer and harder about the topic at hand.  And they’ve devoted their lives to a cause.  So when we open our Bibles––turning particularly to our New Testaments––looking for green scriptures, we would do well to catch up with the experts.

That is the point of this blog series: to highlight some eco-wisdom from scholars, writers, leaders, and teachers of the New Testament.  These posts are for men and women who want to become better Christians and stewards of the earth.  But more than that, these articles are for those of us who want to avoid dead-end readings of the scriptures. We want to know what verses will change our communities and what verses are simply not about stewardship, even if we first thought so. We want to be ready for that moment when somebody uses our own scriptures to prove that God, after all, cares nothing for the earth.  We don’t want to be speechless then. In the big wide clash of ideas throughout Western culture, the jury is still out on whose version of reality we will adopt for brighter futures––will it be Buddhist, Pagan, Islamic, Christian? Don’t you want to know what Christian scholars and leaders are saying in the conversation?  Don’t you want to know where they think the real ecological gold is in the Christian scriptures? Me too.  So I’ve done some reading, and I’m going to give you a digest of their work.

To get an overview of what’s going on and what’s being said––there’s far too much out there to include in this series; I’m definitely not covering all the bases––an image might help.  (You can skip this next part if you care more about what the experts are saying than who they are).

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 I’ve made up a word image to help us keep the last few decades straight. It goes like this:

Imagine a polar bear holding a microphone.  And on top of the microphone is a spinning globe.  And on top of the globe is a party.  You can see a hundred groups up there chatting in small circles, but you notice three particular conversations.  One is a council of bishops and priests.  The other is a group of surfers.  The third is a group of academics and writers.

1960’s – The polar bear represents the fountainhead of much of our conversation: Lynn White.  His important and now famous article accused Christianity––and implicitly the New Testament––of being the problem and the source of our ecological crisis.

70’s and 80’s – The microphone represents the hundreds of people who have responded to him. Some who were happy with his conclusions; others were angrier.

90’s- The globe represents the Harvard school.  These are a group of scholars, who, in the mid-90’s, began talking about an in-breaking “ecozoic” era, one in which the world religions were now all waking up to the sacredness of the earth.  Contributors tended to favor a pantheist vision of space and time. The group produced a library of volumes, including “Christianity and Ecology.”  Built upon the shoulders of––get ready for some names you might like to know––Alfred White Northead, Teilhard de Chardin, and Thomas Berry, they worked across religious boundaries to join together this worldwide awakening.
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2000- today:  Next, the conversation on top of the globe represents the global discussion about our future.  They all wonder: whose version of reality will help us avoid total ecological destruction? The circle of bishops represents the church leaders who pull––in various ways––from Christian scriptures.  Voices include NT Wright, James Jones, Matthew Fox, Desmond Tutu, and John Chryssavgis. The second conversation includes a group of surfers––a lot of them really love surfing like some Christians really like Church––who think we should return to a type of neo-paganism, which deeply reveres the sacred earth. This, “Dark Green Religion” finds traction in a periodical called, “Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture.”  The third conversation represents the hundreds, if not thousands of scholars, writers, and thinkers who advocate one form of green-theology or another.  Three prominent voices include David Horrell (and his team who have just completed a project called “Ecological Hermeneutics”), Norm Habel (and his group who have just completed a project called, “The Earth Bible”) and a group who has published the, “Green Bible”, a green letter edition of the NRSV, which highlights eco-theological verses.  Other scholars include Richard Bauckham, Edward P. Echlin, Ellen Davis, Sigurd Bergman, Howard Snyder, and Jurgen Moltmann.  It’s not clear, in the end, who is listening to whom in the conversation.

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I’ve chosen to write on five classic texts that theologians use for making green theology.

Matthew 6.25-34:        A Lesson from the Earth

Romans 8.18-30:         We are so Connected

Mark 1.9-13:               Jesus, Animals, and Isaiah

Colossians 1.15-20:     The Cosmic Jesus

Revelation 21:             Ecotopia

In each post, I’ve made a new English paraphrase from the original Greek and tried to highlight points of conversation from those circles of experts.

One of the difficult parts about reading green theology in the New Testament, is that most of the good stuff is in the Hebrew Bible.  From the creation story, to Job’s vision of creation, to creation praising in the Psalms, to the visions of new creation in the prophets––the OT is the place to go for the green stuff.  Yes, green theology is in the New Testament.  But you just have to look a little more carefully and remember that the OT was Jesus’s Bible; a lot of the NT assumes you are super familiar with the OT as scripture.  At the end of each post, I give you three references to books, articles or articles in books for the eager reader to explore. My goal is that you would get your hands on some of the gold from the experts. I hope this series will help you see how a green reading of the New Testament is very possible and, given a little work on our part, will transform our vision of Christian spirituality.


Keith Jagger first met the Sleeths when they were neighbors in Wilmore, Kentucky, and were brought together by their shared passion for creation care. After completing his studies at Asbury Seminary, Keith moved to Scotland to study with N.T. Wright. As Blessed Earth’s “Anglo Correspondent.” Keith writes both from the perspective a PhD student studying creation care and a husband/father/follower of Jesus struggling to incorporate creation care principles in his daily life.  You can read more of his writing at keithjagger.com or urban-abbey.com.

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The Specks in Our Own Eyes

The Bible provides answers to the problems of every age. If the world is dying, God has something to say about it. He has something he wants us to do. Our proper course of action is woven into the very fabric of scripture. What we are supposed to do is not so simple that it can be spray-painted on a placard. Our moral responsibility to God, the earth, our neighbors, and the future cannot be discharged by simply voting for the right party, or voicing the right opinions. Nor can we rely on others to do the work of change for us. Instead, this millennia-old Gospel requires us to look in the mirror. Matthew 7 tells us not to worry about the speck in our neighbor’s eye until we remove the plank from our own. How can we become more like Jesus–more meek, humble, compassionate, thankful, forgiving, and loving? To start, most of us in the developed world need to scale back our lifestyle. We need to focus less on getting, and more on giving. We need to consume less, so we can serve more. These scriptural principles apply equally to the Church. Humanity stands at a great crossroads. We hold the fate of God’s creation in our hands. This is not because there is no God, or that God is not all-powerful, loving, or in control. Rather, it is the result of us being made in the image of a Creator God. We are free to choose life or death, light or darkness, and the very fate of our own souls. With this awesome responsibility comes the stewardship of not only the natural world we inhabit but the fate of our children, and our children’s children.


Dr. Sleeth is the executive director of Blessed Earth and is the author of Serve God, Save the Planet (Zondervan, 2007), the introduction to the Green Bible (HarperOne, 2008), and The Gospel According to the Earth: Why the Good Book is a Green Book (HarperOne, 2010).