06.MAY.2012. Cagayan de Oro City. The evangelical churches in CDO gathered together to declare that “Jesus is the Lord of Ecology!” This march around the downtown core was an expression of the unity of the Body of Christ to advance peace with God’s creation. There were more than five thousand people from various church denominations who marched together and gathered at a major center of the city.
Five months earlier, more than a thousand people were killed when the flash floods of Typhoon Sendong devastated this urban center in the northern shore of Mindanao.
“When the floods of Sendong swept our homes, there was no discrimination between denominations,” Bishop Genesis Udang, during his opening remarks, told the participants. “Today, we’re standing together as one body. We’re joining our hands together to help rebuild our lives and our city.”
By declaring “Jesus as Lord of ecology,” the churches in CDO expressed their conviction about God’s creation:
God cares for the whole creation, including the human species. The creation is the world that “God so loved…” (Jn. 3:16). This “world” (Gk.,kosmos) can mean the sum total of everything here and now, all of humanity, or world-systems. This is also the creation that will ultimately be reconciled with Christ (Col. 1:15-20). All living things are important to God. God relates with the Creation. That is why it is important for the church to see Creation as an organic-relational world. We were created as part of the whole creation. Our shalom—our experience of wholeness—necessarily includes the whole of creation.
Rev. Dann Pantoja, PBCI President, was also invited to speak. He shared a view of ecological transformation based on a peace theology:
Harmony with God’s creation. This is economic-ecological transformation. Creation, from shalom perspective, is seen as an organic-relational world, not merely as a mechanical-utilitarian world.
In a mechanical-utilitarian view of the world, the emphasis is exploitation. If one of the parts of the machine-world is not functioning, the tendency is to replace it. Hence, in globalism, the natural resources can be exploited for the present, and then later, it can be substituted with technological products and solutions—that is, synthetic materials.
In an organic-relational world, the emphasis is stewardship and loving care of creation. The biblical story of Creation tells us that “the Lord God formed the mortal or adam from the dust of the ground or adamah and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life or nishmat chayim and the mortal became a living being or l’nefesh chayah.” (Gen. 2:7) Such are the imageries used to give us a grasp of the beginning of the human race. We all came from the ground. We were named after the ground. We are one with Creation. We are one humanity! We are all carbon-based material. We are all breathed with the same breath of God. That is the story of our Being Alive! When the Creator-God commanded us to subdue or kivshuha the Earth (Gen. 1:28), it has the idea of l’shamrah—to care for, to keep, to watch, and to preserve it (Gen. 2:15). Earth-destruction is listed by the Prophet John as a sin (Rev. 11:18). We are all called by the Creator-God to be stewards of Planet Earth! Christians must apply the shalom-lifestyle in the stewardship of their resources.
The highlight of the event was the public commitment of the leaders of the denominations. They brought a young tree, symbolizing the remaining forests in and around CDO City. They thanked God for the forests and for the totality of God’s creation. Then they asked God for forgiveness for failing to be faithful stewards of creation.
Finally, they made a united public commitment to preach, teach, and practice Economic-Ecological Transformation Principles as part of their ministry as church leaders, and as an inherent aspect of the whole Gospel ministry.