Earth Day, Jesus, and Christian Environmentalism

I’m in Springfield, MO at a Chi Alpha conference where I’ve taught approximately 12 hours in the last two days.

Yes, that’s as grueling as it sounds. It’s been fun, though.

Anyway, while here I got to hang with Darrin Rodgers

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, an old seminary buddy who is now a historian. He told me something that blew my mind: the founder of Earth Day (the first Earth Day, I should say — there are two) is a Pentecostal Christian. His name is John McConnell. If you are a pacifist you will find his story especially interesting — read some reviews of his biography.

I’m encouraged that a follower of Jesus was at the forefront of the early environmental movement. It is easy to grow disappointed in Christianity if you focus on the inactivity of the institutional church and forget that the faith, ultimately, is expressed in individual lives. But when you remember that the church’s business is to not to engage in activism itself but rather to release Christians to serve God’s purposes in the world, you can actually become quite giddy. We still have a long way to go, but we’re doing far better than the world or the church seems to think. When I peek deep into a positive situation I often discover a Jesus‐follower (or even a few) at the heart of it.

So if you’re a fan of Earth Day (the original), then remember to thank God for it. And keep your eyes open — God is at work in unexpected places.

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