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Several years ago, while standing near the rim of one of nature’s natural wonders, the Grand Canyon, I marveled at its vastness and the beauty of the pastel colors brought out by the late afternoon sun.
Most everyone reading this column has, at one time or many times, paused to take in a gorgeous sunset or the multiple color of the leaves on a cool autumn day, not to mention those news reports that have given us pictures of our planet earth from outer space. The earth, a beautiful sea of blue and white, the home of all we who inhabit it.
How very blessed we are!
Few if any of my readers will know of the late Christian comedian Grady Nutt, who perished in a private chartered aircraft accident in November 1982. He communicated gospel truths with a sharp wit and humorous stories.
My favorite quote from one of Grady’s humorous tales was, “God don’t make no trash.” As Grady would tell it, all of God’s creation is good, is “sacred.” Our Creator did not create trash. That is where we humans come into the story, the creation of trash and trashing the Creator’s creation for our own greed and profit.
Unfortunately, even some evangelical Christians have given over to the Trump interpretation of the biblical admonition that we humans should become the stewards of what God has created and have dominion over it. This has been taken to the extreme to mean that the Creator has given us humans carte blanche over all the natural resources of the planet to be used however we choose, even if it means the destruction of much of the earth’s natural resources.
Nothing could be further from a true interpretation of this Hebrew text in the Old Testament. We are now reaping the results of climate change, a very real threat to our planet and all God has created on it. Even the leadership of the U.S. Pentagon and military chiefs of staff who advise President Trump agree that climate change is the single greatest security threat regarding the future of the United States.
I don’t recall where I first heard this story, but it serves as a good warning to all who deny the handwriting on the wall regarding climate change. As the story goes, a man of great faith was sitting on his front porch in his rocking chair despite the weather forecast of a rainstorm that would cause historic flooding. Soon the rains came, and in short order, the flooding had reached his porch.
A woman in a small boat came by and offered the man a place in her boat, but he refused, declaring that God would take care of him and the bad situation.
It got worse. The flooding was now up to the man’s waist. Another boat filled with several people came by urging him to join them to go to a safe place. Again, he declined, testifying that God would take care of the situation.
Finally, the man had gone to the roof of his house as the flood waters had engulfed it. A rescue helicopter flew over and a rope was lowered to take the man to safety but, again, he declined on the basis that God was going to take care of him.
The next scene is the man at the judgment seat of God. The man asked God why he had not rescued him and taken care of him. God’s response was he sent two boats and a helicopter for that purpose, but he had refused his help.
This story speaks of those evangelicals who refuse to hear the facts of science and the truth of the biblical narrative of our responsibility to care for our Creator’s creation. There is hope. Young Evangelicals for Climate Action is currently educating younger people on how much the Bible talks about caring for the planet earth.
Edward “Ned” Walsh of Princeton is a retired Baptist denominational worker who served as executive director of Johnston County Habitat for Humanity from 2004-08.