I fell in love with our green God in an unlikely place: theology class. Seminary was an unlikely place because it’s not typically where people fall in love–fall asleep, maybe, but not in love. But history and theology were an invitation to me. I heard Martin Luther pounding the nail into the Wittenberg Church door, I smelled the fragrant sacrifices burning on ancient altars, and I sat in horror with Mary at the foot of the cross. I developed an ever-deepening love for God during those years, but nowhere was this truer than in my theology classes.
One of my favorite professors was undoubtedly Dr. John Hammett. He was humble and fair. He was brilliant. Each class seemed to trim the hedge of my mind so that I left a bit raw and more refined. One class trumped them all.
Dr. Hammett was talking about the ways that God communicates with humans. “There are two forms of divine revelation: the special revelation in scripture that is able to lead us to salvation and the general revelation we receive through nature. Both are from God,” he declared over a scarred oak lectern. “So when we destroy creation, which is God’s revelation, it’s similar to tearing a page out of the Bible.”
Wham! Wap! Bang! Like an action sequence from the old Batman show, I took one straight on the chin. Up until that moment, I hadn’t been a friend of creation. I often describe myself as a recovering anti-environmentalist. I never recycled, and energy conservation was inconsequential. Though I never vocalized it, I believed that it was okay for others to struggle a little so long as I prospered. Prior to my classroom jolt, I remember tossing crumpled fast food bags out of the windows of my speeding, blue Pontiac. When people in my car called me out for being destructive, I laughed.
As I sat in that theology class, God changed me. He vaporized my perspective and replaced it with His own. He stretched out His hand and grabbed a hold of my heart. My mind returned to those destructive moments, and I felt God convict me of the sins of pride and selfishness.
I’ve started searching for God’s heartbeat on this issue, and His surprising opinions about creation have leapt off my Bible’s pages from Genesis to Revelation. His voice has nudged me to make personal lifestyle changes, and He’s given me a passion for sharing His heart for creation-not as an “environmentalist” but as a “regular Joe” struggling to live out the whole Christian thing in a broken world.
I’ve never handcuffed myself to a tree, and you probably won’t catch me wearing hemp any time soon. You’d find some eco-hypocrisy in my life if you looked for it. I won’t attempt to make you feel guilty for having multiple children or eating meat or try to shock you with pictures of smokestacks and demolished rainforests. But I can’t deny the new spark in my heart to love the Creator by caring for His creation.
The article above is excerpted from Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet. It is used with permission.
Jonathan Merritt is a faith and culture writer who has published over 200 articles in respected outlets such as USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, BeliefNet, Christianity Today, The Huffington Post, and CNN.com. He is author of Green Like God: Unlocking the Diving Plan for Our Planet, which Publisher’s Weekly called “a must-read for churchgoers,” and the editor for Qideas.org.