Ahead of Earth Day on Sunday (22 April), the environmental coordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Revd Dr Rachel Mash, argues that the opposite of love is not hate, but apathy.
We often think that the opposite of love is hate. To be honest, that is not true. The opposite of love is the lack of feelings “a” – “pathy”. I doubt that there are many Christians that would admit to hating the world. But there are many who are “apathetic” to the state of the world.
There are many reasons for this. Some of them are spiritual - we should be primarily concerned with salvation, Jesus came to save humans from sin. The environment is thus a side issue which should not take up too much of our energy from the more important spiritual issues. Others feel a bit worried that this whole concern for nature is a little “new agey”. Others question whether we should add the environment to the social justice issues of the church – we should be engaged in far more important issues such as poverty, unemployment, housing, crime. The environment is a middle class “tree hugger” issue. Others feel that their little acts can make no difference.
Close to 48 years ago, on 22 April 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development. In 2018 the Earth is in a worse position, the planet is warming at disastrous speed. Our oceans are full of plastic – the theme for this year’s Earth Day is “plastic pollution”. It is time for us to hear the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth.
And so on Earth Day we must come back to the basics of our faith. What is salvation? John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten son. The original word in Greek is “cosmos” – God so loved the Earth and the entire Cosmos that he sent his son.
Jesus died on the cross for our salvation – and his blood fell onto the Earth.
When he rose again the Earth shook – this was the moment that creation, groaning in agony, had been waiting for! Jesus died on the cross so that “all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross” (Colossians 1:20, The Message).
The resurrection means a new Creation – restored humanity living on a restored Earth. And Earth Day is a chance to celebrate our love for God’s creation and commit ourselves anew. We confess that we have failed to be good stewards of God’s Earth and commit ourselves to becoming healers of the Earth.
- Click here to download a youth liturgy for Earth Day produced by Green Anglicans (pdf)