ChurchETHOS

Organic and Sustainable Christianity

Posted in church reform, environment, social justice by Nathan Creitz on October 16, 2008
An Intended Meaning
Organic and Sustainable Christianity has a double meaning. One meaning has to do with what a Christian believes, the other is how a Christian responds because of that belief. What do we believe about the world? That God created it? That since creation, humanity has fallen and has brought suffering in the world? If so, how does that cause us to act? Do we seek to fight injustice? Do we desire to protect the environment? Do we care for people’s physical and spiritual needs? Faith should lead to Action!
Faith

To begin with, a Christian needs a strong organic faith that is characterized by growth. Our faith must be nurtured through prayer and Biblical reflection but it must also be pruned by God’s Spirit and accountability and fellowship with other Christians. Jesus lived in an organic way. He created few traditions but he was always sensitive to the leading of the Spirit. He walked where he was supposed to walk and did what he was supposed to do. Today, our churches tend to be program driven and not driven by natural relationships. We have a routine when it comes to our Christianity: Sunday service (2 hours), Weekly Bible study group (2
hours), the freedom to spend the rest of our time the way we want (priceless). Jesus calls us to discipleship, not to sit back and watch the world suffer. Every moment is an opportunity to grow personally or to respond to a need or to engage in discipleship. 

This sort of approach to our walk with Jesus will also lend itself to sustainability. Sustainability doesn’t depend on a faith that is informed only by a 20 minute sermon on Sunday and one quick time of Bible study with a small group. Our relationship with God is sustainable
because of the deep intimacy that we have with him and with others. Our faith should be growing organically and that natural growth will cause us to be like a “tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does
prospers.” (Psalm 1)
Action
That leads us to the other meaning of living an “organic and sustainable faith”. Our world is suffering. Jesus identifies with our suffering. He was born into poverty, was a refugee in Africa for a number of years, spent years bringing about healing and hope to the marginalized, and finally was forsaken and rejected by even some of his closest followers and put to death. “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that
brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53) He brought not only physical healing but more importantly he brought spiritual healing. Our world is hurting because of poverty, slavery, violence, disease. We are facing economic and environmental crises. As Christians we are called to action! Assuming that we are already focused on
spiritual issues (sharing our story about our relationship with God), the Church needs to do much better about addressing physical suffering in the world. The terms “organic” and “sustainable” are usually associated with environmental issues, but if we don’t also address
social justice issues, people’s hope will not be sustainable. Our hope in each other is beginning to fade and we need to share with people that God loves them and we love them so we are going to help them. 
Ecology is the interrelationship between organisms and their environment and we need to begin demanding an ecology that focuses on those interrelationships between “organisms”, with priority being placed on our relationships with other humans.
Our action must be organic in that it must respond naturally to the needs of those around us. When you see a need, meet a need. You don’t have to be involved in every issue that our world faces, but find some that resonate personally with you and work on them. You might be fighting to end breast cancer. You may decide to compost. You may decide to volunteer at an animal shelter or work with the homeless or the orphaned. You may feel led to put solar panels on your roof. Whatever you do, don’t do it because it’s trendy but because it comes natural to you. Again, this will lead to sustainability. Sustainability for the environment and sustainability for the relationships living in that environment. If you care about something, you tend to do it long term. Our suffering world needs something they can hold on to and if we are showing love then a person can be sustained by that love. If we are like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, men and women of faith, then we can believe that whatever we do for God’s kingdom and for His creation will prosper. So let’s start working on it.
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3 Responses

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  1. Robert Chapman said, on October 16, 2008 at 12.51 pm

    Great Post! I was interested in some questions your post spawned and wanted to get your take. How does “organic” Christianity differ from any other type of Christianity besides a vocabulary change? How does one naturally participate in the Kingdom when spiritually, emotionally, and even physically it isn’t natural? Also how do you see Jesus as being organic? What is exclusive to that term that you see as being characteristic to his nature? Again a great post and something that really energizes my thoughts. Peace.

  2. Creitz said, on October 20, 2008 at 9.27 am

    Thanks for the comment Robert. Glad you dropped by my blog. Here are some of my thoughts pertaining to your question:

    I use the adjective “organic” to describe true Christianity because our relationship with Christ must be natural…not forced. It has to be growing. We are part of an organism (called the Church) not an organization that needs large amounts of administration and structure. Our faith should be alive. These are some of the things I think about when I think of organic. It’s “natural”, therefore, to think of it in terms of my faith.

    In that sense, I’m not sure if organic has to apply to Jesus’ life. He was certainly spontaneous and alive and real and natural. He “grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man”. So, it applies to some extent, but I try to use it primarily for my own walk with Him.

  3. Robert Chapman said, on October 20, 2008 at 10.40 am

    Thanks for the response. I agree with you that Christianity can’t be forced. While to me that may seem like an obvious though process it often times is missed in the actions and words. On a side note I saw that N.T. Wright is coming to speak at your school. That guy is really on target for me and I hope you enjoy him. He’s written a lot of great stuff about the topics you post here. I think he’s the one that started to really introduce me to this line of thinking. Peace.


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