Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why the Extinction of the Black Rhino Matters
Yesterday, I found out that the Western Black Rhino was declared extinct. That breaks my heart.

Here’s the thing. The rhinoceros wasn’t declared extinct because of natural causes. It has gone extinct because of greed. Poaching. People got so obsessed with money that they killed them off.

I don’t want to be misunderstood in this post. I understand that as the church, our first priority should be people. I understand that our main goal is leading people to Christ. I would never, ever, put anything else above that.

Greed is the sin at the heart of most extinctions. Plain and simple. That is the main thing I want to discuss in this article. 

In the United States, the idea of the American Dream has permeated everything we do. We are obsessed with having it all. We are obsessed with our homes being prettier than the next. We have to have the absolute best of everything. We are wasteful. 

Our nation is greedy. Plain and simple. We have too long ignored this sin. We obsess over that next big thing we want to buy. We give as little as possible. We fill our houses with stuff we don’t need. In reality, that money could have gone towards something better.

I am not saying there is anything  wrong with having these things. Yet, we need to consider our true intent. Is there any way to use those things to God’s glory?  Will this item just get lost in the piles of junk we don’t ever use? Am I really, truly going to use this? If the answer is no, yes, and no, we should try and reconsider. 

I think of the parable of the talents in Matthew 24:18-30. The wicked servants buried or didn’t do anything with their talents.  Same thing with us. What are we doing with God’s blessings? Burying them and keeping them to ourselves? Or are we sharing them with the world? Compared to the rest of the world, we've been blessed with great material wealth. 

How do the rhinoceros, bees, butterflies and other endangered animals tie into this?

Read this verse in Genesis chapter one:

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit…” (Genesis 1:28-29, emp. added.)

Notice something. He gave us every plant. He put all the animals under our rule and care. Wouldn’t you say that this earth is a gift to us from God?

What if you gave someone a gift? A handmade one? You picked out everything to be perfect for them. You worked hard on it. How would you feel to find out that person tosses that item around carelessly? They walk all over it. They are rough with it. They break it and don’t seem to care.

God gave this earth as a gift for us to use. Everything on this earth is at our disposal for our needs, and even our wants. However, many use it selfishly.

In the case of the rhinoceros, people’s hearts became ravaged with greed. They hunted without any regard for what might happen. People forget that once you destroy an entire animal population, the reason you did goes with it.

We can't be that bad, right? I mean, hey, it’s not like I’m an extortioner. It’s not like I am blackmailing anyone. And I definitely am not a poacher. So, I must be okay right?

Greed takes many forms. The rich young ruler was greedy (Matthew 19:16-22.). He had many possessions. But he wasn’t willing to give it up for Jesus. He had so much and gave so little. We don’t want to admit it or want to face it--

--but the rich young ruler is us. 

We believe with all our hearts that we are good people. We have so much, and give so little.

This sin has recently come to focus in my life. And I think it is a problem for most people in our western society. But I don’t want to be one of them. I don’t want an obsession with stuff. I want to be a good steward. As with the case of the rich young ruler, we HAVE to want God more than anything else.

This is why the rhino extinction matters. We are to be good stewards of God’s blessings. Animals are one of those blessings. What is our response to God's blessings? We abuse and waste every good and perfect thing He gives us. That is one of the ways sin works.

I am not saying we have to run around with picket signs. I am not saying we have to go around shouting, “SAVE THE ELEPHANT!” or, “SAVE THE BEES!”

 I am saying that to change these things, we have to choose God over money, stuff, and  selfishness. We must teach others to do the same. When we decide to be good stewards and overcome greed, these things can change. 

No comments:

Post a Comment