A phrase I never thought I would use a year ago — “On my twitter feed” — is one I have used twice today already. So let’s go for a third time.
On Twitter, I follow several pastors and creation care advocates. On my Twitter feed today, I caught two blog posts that prompted some thought. I haven’t talked about the environment much here lately, so I’ll share my thoughts regarding Ron Sider’s blog post. The paragraph that especially caught my eye:
The church of Jesus Christ will do what God wants it to do for the environment and the poor if member by member, congregation by congregation, we look up into the face of the risen Lord and submit ourselves totally and unconditionally in worship and obedience. Let’s look into his face in surrender as we face very decision- about money, sex, business, marriage, politics, divorce, peacemaking. Can we keep doing some of the things we are now doing if we look constantly and intently into his face and ask him, “My Lord, are you pleased with how I am living, or does it make you weep?” Let’s dare daily to look into his face and invite him to make us more and more like himself, transforming us from one degree of glory to another.
“Are you pleased with how I am living, or does it make you weep?”
Guilt is a powerful tool. It will either weigh us down, or it will show us the way to repentance and transformation. Jesus wants us to repent and be transformed, and this is what Sider is saying: when we ask Jesus if the way we live makes Him weep, we should ask not so we are burdened by guilt, but transformed by God’s love and grace.
I have been struggling recently with being a good financial steward and being a good environmental steward. If you buy any ecofriendly products — organic food, biodegradable cleaners, products made from reclaimed or recycled materials — you know that these products usually cost more than their non-ecofriendly counterparts. The cost of some of these items makes it difficult to buy all the ecofriendly products I think I should be using. For example, I would love to buy organic apples and bananas all the time, but they cost about 30 cents a pound more than ordinary apples and bananas, which aren’t cheap in their own right. So do I continue to buy ordinary fruit and save a little bit of money, or do I buy organic fruit and know that my choice is supporting cleaner air, water, and soil, healthier workers, and probably fair trade?
Being a good financial steward does not mean that you spend less on everything. Using your money the way God intends is to spend money on the things you really, truly need, and not on the things you don’t. It means paying a little extra for an item knowing that the person who made that item is getting paid a living wage and/or not using toxic chemicals to make the item. It’s not turning luxuries into needs, but realizing that God wants every single person He created to have some luxuries instead of a small percentage of people hoarding them all.
I have wanted to dye my hair purple for a few months now. I have hesitated for one reason or another, and decided right after Christmas that I was going to go for it at my next hair appointment! On the one hand, I hate to make my stylist use the chemicals because they aren’t good for her, me, the other people who will have to work to remove them from the water and soil, and the environment. On the other hand, come ON, it’s purple hair! YAY! But then I started thinking about how much it would cost to have it done. Don’t misunderstand me — I will happily pay Ashley that money to color my hair because she is fantastic at what she does and deserves every bit. I’m happy to support her with my business. But I also have bills to pay, and if I spend a chunk of money on something I don’t need, I’m not being a very good steward of my money.
Asking Jesus if He is pleased with how I live or if it makes Him weep has led to transformation after transformation in my life. But I’m not where He wants me to be yet. If I was, this whole financial vs. environmental thing wouldn’t be an issue for me. I would understand that buying the least expensive product isn’t necessarily the best choice, and that creation care doesn’t have to be quite as expensive as the world would like for me to believe.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, if I see something in me that I would like to change, I start doing it that day, if possible. Over the past few months, I have tried to be a better financial steward of my money, and if I had a resolution for this year, it would be to continue on that path. But to do it while taking the best care of the environment that I can.