This afternoon, we were reminded God cares how much Christians care about God’s world.
We were enjoying an autumn leaf hike in Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area, in the western part of North Carolina. A winding drive brings you close to the peak, with parking areas at two scenic overlooks that gave staggeringly beautiful views of orange, red, yellow and green, stretching miles toward a hazy blue horizon of more mountain peaks.
This mountaintop park is a testament to a local community who persistently continued to meet escalating State standards for what constituted a State park – how much land, what kind of roadway access, how much more land … until finally, after more than 15 years of collective endeavor, the park was established.
Among the many educational markers on its trails is one bearing a quote from John C. Sawhill, the late president of The Nature Conservancy:
“In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.”
Sawhill, in his role at the Conservancy, helped to encourage us as a society to refuse to destroy remarkable tracts of land. In another role, as an economist training nonprofit leaders at Harvard School of Business, he helped to encourage us to find ways not to destroy vulnerable citizens.
This is the wholistic vision of our God. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). That “everything” includes all of the beauty of nature, all of the natural resources we depend on, all that God has allowed us to create, and all of us — each and every one. The awkward and the elite; the sophisticated and the starving; the dedicated and the “undeserving. ” All of us are part of the “everything” that God claims.
While some of us are willing to pray destruction on those whose ways don’t match our understanding of God’s rule, God is concerned that people like the debauched and sinful citizens of the great Babylonian city of Nineveh should find their way to spiritual health. God is even concerned for their financial health — in that story, calling out Jonah for having more concern for his own comfort than for the animals that are part of Ninevah’s vibrant economy (Jonah, chapter 4).
In the end, to paraphrase Sawhill, perhaps our faith will be defined not just by our creative acts of worship but also by who we refuse to destroy.
Have you seen Christians who seem bent on destroying part of the Body? How did you respond?