The Second Eclectic

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The Difference Between God and Recycling

For the astute, non-religious types out there, it's easy to equate most Christian-based groups with those of a non-religious nature. There seems to be no identifiable difference between an ideology-driven Christian organization and a agenda-driven advocacy group.

For example, the American evangelical subset of Christianity is more visible today than a decade ago. They are a market segment to be advertised to for movies like The Passion of the Christ and The Chronicles of Narnia. They represent an 8 billion-dollar market. To politics they represent a vital voting segment with the clout to swing an election (even Hillary condescended to claim the evangelical title). More recently, the AFA, with 3 million members, pushed its agenda to reclaim Christmas from the holiday season, boycotting places like Target, which caved to the pressure.

All in all, this Christian subset certainly looks like other agenda-driven causes such as the ACLU, environmental activist groups, PETA, and the like.

Let's compare the typical Christian with the typical recycler. The Christian can be identified by the little fish on his bumper and the fashionable "Jesus is my Homeboy" t-shirt (purchased at a store he's vowed not to shop at again), and the recycler can be identified by the "Be Green" bumper sticker and multiple little blue or green bins designated for aluminum, glass, paper, along with the backyard compost pile.

The difference between believing in God and believing in recycling is the nature of that which is believed in. Recycling is an idea or value that has arisen in the mind of the individual for various reasons. Perhaps he or she has a crush on Jesse Grass or lived near a landfill once when they were 9. Of course, the same could be said of God. Most individuals believe in God because they have been raised in the church (and many don't believe in God for the very same reason) or have experienced something that has caused them to believe in God.

Both a belief in God and a belief in recycling drive the "believer" to say and do certain things, to live according to their beliefs. Perhaps the recycler will devote an evening each week writing letters to their congressman or surfing the Grassroots Recycling Network website for tips on how to raise their kids this way. For the Christian, it means going to NAE-member church for 1.25 hours each week and listening to the approved radio stations. They too are looking for ways to pass these values on to their children.

Still, no distinguishing marks between recyclers and Christians.

The purpose and zeal with which the Christian and the recycler endeavor after their beliefs can often look the same too. It can take on almost a singular and spiritual element. The recycler may, somehow, feel connected to something bigger by recycling, call it Mother Earth or the human spirit. The truly devout may organize their whole lives around it, to the point that all they do, even their careers are admirably focused to that single end. Be it recycling or another cause, I've seen devotion and passion that puts Christians to shame.

As I said a few paragraphs before, though: the difference is in the actual belief's characteristics. Most specifically, God is spirit, while recycling is merely an idea in the minds of men. Recycling is a valuable cause, but it cannot actually penetrate flesh and bone to move within the spirit of a man, no matter how spiritual it feels. On the other hand, the Spirit of God has the power and ability to penetrate men's hearts and change them for his purposes. Recycling as an idea within the mind and as a passion within the affections can certainly feel spiritual. But recycling has no power to actually act and move and cause change within the spirit of a man. The actions of men can often look the same (and that raises other issues), but it is the Spirit of God that the Ideas of Recycling cannot match.