The Pastor's Peace - August, 2010
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As August approaches, I know there is one thing I am looking forward to, and that is the permanent sealing of BP’s Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico. We have been told that the only way to permanently fix this issue is with a relief well that will pump heavy mud and concrete into the well. Thankfully, the relief wells have been ahead of schedule and they should be able to complete this in August. I also pray that the current cap holds until those wells are ready. I write this as we mark the 3-month anniversary of the disaster, which claimed many lives and has now released almost 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.

The question is not so much what we want to do about the tragedy. It is pretty clear that we wish for the leak to be sealed permanently, and for BP to clean up the spill and compensate families and industries for their losses. The more challenging question is “what have we learned from this event.” Like any tragedy the oil spill has been used to support or tear down any number of policies and positions. Some would say we need to stop drilling for oil, period, while others say this proves that we need to open up more land for drilling. Some blame the government, some blame corporations, some blame everybody else. These things will be long debated and I’m sure never completely resolved, but as a church, as a member of the body of Christ, what can we learn?

If we look to the creation story in Genesis, we find that God created a “good” world. Adam and Eve, humanity, were placed
in it with all they needed. They were quite content until they took the one thing they should not, the fruit of the tree of knowledge, knowledge of good and evil and everything in-between. This, of course, led to the end of paradise and brought the suffering that came later. If we look at the story of Cain and Abel that follows, we see that both Cain and Abel are using this new- found knowledge. Cain is growing crops, while Abel has made use of animal husbandry. Abel eventually uses this knowledge to make an offering that is pleasing to the Lord, while Cain also attempts an offering, but it is not praised by God. God is not mad at Cain; he simply did not accept the offering. Cain is furious, unwilling to accept his limitations and lashes out, killing Abel.

A lesson to be learned is that with our knowledge, we will continue to do new and amazing things. If we use these skills to glorify God, and remain “good”, then we will have the favor of God and not increase our suffering. If, however, we refuse to live by our limitations, then sin and suffering are waiting. If I have learned anything, it is that as we are increasingly less concerned with doing what is good, we are less willing to sacrifice and do without. Companies and societies are more willing to risk the wellbeing of people to reach for things that perhaps they should not. As we think about what we should do in the wake of this recent disaster, I feel that we should take a hard look at balancing our desires with the limitations God has placed in this world. If we continue down a path that ignores this, then I fear we are following Cain’s path, forever hurting others, and forever suffering ourselves.

Pastor Brian