Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, upon the fruit of the ground and the life of the sea, and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched. - Jeremiah 7:20 (paraphrase)
Many have destroyed my ocean, they have trodden my portion, they have made my pleasant portion a black desolation. They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole gulf is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart. - Jeremiah 12:10-11 (paraphrase)
And the word of the Lord came to America, and said,
Woe to you, O consumers, who drive when you could walk, who lust for goods that must be flown and shipped from far away in oil-consuming ships of land and sea and air, whose way of life must be preserved no matter the cost to my planet or to those whose lives depend on its health.
Woe to you, O producers, who pile greed upon greed, who drill and pump and ship and refine black gold with little thought of tomorrow, and sometimes not even today.
Woe to you, O presidents and politicians, who have one hand in the pocket of big oil and another tied by self-preservation, who fear to question the American way of life, that addiction to comfort fueled by fuel.
Woe to you, O environmentalists, who lose sleep over shrimp that will vanish and do not remember the eleven created in my image who died in the explosion, who wax eloquent about the suffering salamander and are blind to the plight of those who suffer most when my earth suffers.
Woe to you, O activists, who write articles that cry out "Earth care!", who fly on 747s to conferences and taxi to fine restaurants to network for the environment, who put up online petitions that millions can sign, on gadgets shipped in gas guzzling transport from overseas, gadgets that depend on coal to boot up.
Woe to you, O churches of the land, who tithe and fast, who preach and pray, who grow megachurches in the twinkling of an eye, who care about souls but not the land on which they live, which I too have made and called good. Woe to you who trust me not for their daily bread, but look anxiously to smoke billowing diesel to deliver them from their hunger. Woe to all who lift up their eyes to call upon my name, but who do not look down at that which they destroy by sucking up energy in their spacious megabuildings and at international gatherings to glorify my name.
Woe to all who feel pulled between fate and necessity, unsure of their needs and wants, confused about facts and propaganda, whose left hand knows the pollution created by their right hand but still have to feed their families, who have eyes to see and ears to hear but who are powerless to change the world economy.
Blessed are those who repent not out of fear but because they believe the Good News.
Blessed are those who know that "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof," that they cannot ultimately destroy anything good I have created and over which I rule, who know that I am almighty and they are not, that I am the Lord still!
Blessed are those who know that I am a jealous God, who visits the environmental iniquity on their children and their children's children, even to the third and fourth generation, but also know that I am a God whose punishment does not last forever, that my wrath is only for a season, like that of a loving father toward his children.
Blessed are those who know that soon this earth will indeed be burned up, that the sea will be no more, and that the environment will pass away, not because of the folly of man but only in my gracious providence.
Blessed are those who know that they cannot save the planet any more than they can save themselves, no matter the extent of their good works, that I will create a new heaven and a new earth, just as I will clothe my beloved in imperishable bodies.
Blessed are those who have these truths written on their hearts, who know the promised future as a blessed present, who live with their God and their neighbor on the Garden called Earth as if the future were already so.
And the oil spewed forth for some forty days and forty nights, for the wickedness of the people was great, and the judgment of the Lord was upon the face of the earth.
Mark Galli is senior managing editor of Christianity Today, and author of Jesus Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untamable God (Baker).
Copyright © 2010 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Previous SoulWork columns include:
The Whisper of Grace | The whirlwind of the self is not easily tamed, even by religion. (April 29, 2010)
The End of Christianity as We Know It | Now we can move on from merely giving people pleasant worship experiences. (April 15, 2010)
Asking the Right Question | Why neither worm theology nor worth theology will do. (April 1, 2010)