American Christianity has become, in recent decades, a mix of self-worship and nationalism. I have heard it described as nationalism with a Jesus veneer and I would have to agree. It is a kind of religious covering that makes the American church-goer appear piously set apart yet we are really no different than the world around us.
As I read through the Bible I can’t help but notice a common theme of the Christian responsibility to take care of God’s creation. This was the job of Adam in the Garden of Eden, to take care of the Garden, Eve his equal, and the animals.
Every Christ-figure in the Bible was pastoral and it was his responsibility to take care of God’s people, God’s creation.
We also see this common theme in the parables that Christ would teach. They all involve a personal responsibility to take care of what God has entrusted to us. To the Rich Young Ruler, take care of the poor. The Parable of the Talents, use your treasure and talents to better the world. The Parable of the Landowner, take care of the job and work God has entrusted to you. In all of these I would say it is more than just a test of your heart, it is a call-to-action.
In Christian vernacular we use the word “stewardship” but this phrase is almost too closely associated with money. Whereas the basis of Christian responsibility is the charge to take care of people and that is the essence of the role of a Shepherd, to care for souls. This stewardship we are called to is not only material but it is personal, practical, and extends to everything God has entrusted to us.
In life I have found that you must take care of:
Yourself. Self-care is extremely important. If you are not in a good place yourself you will not be able to give of yourself freely to others. When our spirit is healthy we can overflow that love and health to others, helping them heal.
Your Spouse and Family. When Eve ate the fruit God came looking for Adam. Men have the important responsibility of acting in a way that gives people a good taste towards male leadership. That is, sacrificial and not domineering. A servant and not narcissistic. Likewise, in Proverbs 31 we see a woman that takes care of her business (she is a working woman) and her family. In both cases they are men and women that can be trusted.
Your Finances. If you do not take care of your personal finances well you won’t be well-equipped to take care of others. This is why the Christian is given the charge to not be in debt, that which steals from future income, but to be financially free and to give freely.
Others. Who is your neighbor, that person you are called to love as yourself? Everyone around you, especially the foreigner living among you. Also, the person who does not share your same worldview. We are called to take care of each other, our neighbors, and to make sure our community is well-resourced and lacking no good thing. If the Church does not do this they might find God using His other ordained institution, the government.
The Earth. The Garden that God placed Adam in is all around us and so are the animals, His creation. In recent years American Christianity has taken on the personality of a corporation or political lobby that is more about the systems of man and machine than what God has created. But that is a perverted and secular viewpoint. The truth is that God does care about the environment, He created it, and it is our job to continue caring for what He has entrusted to us.
I am concerned that American Christianity has become one big political lobby, one where platform and personality have become god over the God we claim to serve.
But if we simply take care of what God has entrusted to us we might find the world around us seeing a clearer and more appropriate view of the God that created and loves us. The world would experience a more nurturing side of men, healing the Father Wound that we have created. We would also find that life-giving power is found outside the political engine and in the Word of God, where a simple encounter with Jesus will change people forever.
The world needs a clearer picture of Christlike love. This is a charge to take care of yourself, those around you, and the world that God loves and Christ died to redeem.