The word “environmentalist” can make you happy or angry depending on how you view politics and culture. Actually, it is a very good word when used in conjunction with God and His Kingdom. An environmentalist is concerned with the long-term health of the place where they live. The same is true for a spiritual environmentalist within the Church.
Some have asked me how to create an environment where the Spirit of God is free to dwell among us. This question was not asked regarding the personal possession of the Spirit that all believers enjoy. This question refers to that corporate experience with Jesus that takes places when two or more gather in His Name, whether in a corporate church gathering or over coffee at Starbucks.
In Matthew 18 Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” This kind of revelation of God’s presence, when more than one person is present, is what we mean when we say, “the manifest presence of God.” We carry Him within each of us all the time, but when we come together His presence is “manifest” between us in a different way– in the midst of us. Here is where the pollution can take place, between people, in the midst of our relationships. This “in the midst” place is where we are supposed to go work as spiritual environmentalists to clean up the junk and sludge of our own brokenness that is not only polluting our lives, but the lives of others as well.
When I talk with leaders within the Church-at-large, I tell them that they are responsible to create an environment where the Holy Spirit is free to make Jesus known. This environment becomes a reality when the priority of the local church is not growth, miracles or even salvations. Are three of these are wonderful by-products of a healthy environment and are very important, but they are not our first priority. Our first priority as a church is to host the Presence. Anything that hinders this hosting of His presence will hinder the work that God wants to do in our midst.
This healthy environment becomes a reality when we personally choose to pull the weeds of self and striving and give God back a garden of life where He is free to walk and minister among us. This environment becomes a reality when we follow the toxic streams of personal runoff to their source and deal with our wrong heart attitudes that breed death, not life.
The Second Adam – Jesus – did not redeem us back to the events and curses that immediately followed the sin of Eden. Our Second Adam redeemed us back to the realities of Eden, before the Fall, where He could walk with us unhindered through a beautiful and unpolluted place. This is the ministry of a Spiritual Environmentalist.