By Brian Nixon, Special to ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS – September 17, 2017) — 516 ARTS is my favorite art gallery in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The artwork shown is of high quality and usually has a broader social context. In the recent show, Cross Pollination, 516 ARTS produced another fine exhibit, one that highlights the plight of bees .
For those not familiar with the demise of the bee population around the world — often called bee-pocalypse, consider these facts outlined by Green Growing :
- We need honeybees.
- A bee-pocalypse would have dire effects
- Insecticides pose risk to pollinators
- Colony collapse disorder is happening
- Parasites and pathogens infest and kill hives
- Queen bee problems put strain on beehives
- Poor nutrition shortens bee’s lives
- Climate change is involved in bee population decline
- Europe regulations seeks to stifle potential risks
- More efforts are required for immediate solutions.
As number four states above, colony collapse is a real event occurring around the world. For those not familiar with the phenomena, colony collapse occurs when the majority of worker bees disappear, leaving behind the queen and baby bees with little help to nurse the bees to adulthood. The collapse causes economic and social strains on the human population since bees are the majority pollinators, producing “a threat to global agriculture” . In an article written for the Guardian, it was estimated that more than 10 million beehives were lost leading up to 2013 .
The good news is that bees appear to be bouncing back from colony collapse . Yet the issue still stands as one of unease. And as odd as it may sound to some Christians, bees—as representative of God’s creation — should be of concern for to us for three main reasons: Biblical, theological, and social.
Biblical. As the Creator, the Lord called His creation “good” (see Genesis 1). Based upon God’s view of His work, Christian’s opinion should reveal the Lord’s: creation is good, a reflection of His being as expressed through creation. And since bees are part of His creation, we should value, care, and be concerned for them when populations decline, asking why. As people of the Book, we should let the Bible lead in all areas—including our view of nature.
Theological. According to Christian theologian and philosopher, Thomas Aquinas, everything has a purpose — bees, and maybe the collapse — included. Aquinas put it this way: “every agent of necessity acts for an end…the first of all causes is the final cause.” Though cryptic in its medieval verbiage, Aquinas is saying that there is an ordered universe that is moving towards an end, a greater purpose. As Aquinas scholar Peter Kreeft states, “The point is simple: an ordered universe, like an ordered life, must include order to ends…both from an agent (‘efficient cause’) and for a determinate goal or end (the ‘final cause’).” As a designed world, creation was made with intelligence, purpose, and natural laws that govern its success—all implemented by God and moving with purpose. When the laws of God are violated by human or natural causes (such as climate change) and creation is repetitively ruined (both spiritually — through sin, and physically — through external effects), there is a theological reason why we should care: human corruption has consequences in nature.
And though ultimately God’s purposes will be accomplished (nothing will thwart them in final assessment), here’s my point: Christians must recognize that the effects of sin has both spiritual and physical results; our actions have aftermaths. Recognizing the effects of sin in the world should cause us to ask: what is the solution? Theologically, the answer is Christ. In Christ we find salvation: the Father has provided the answer to sin and evil. And from the springboard of salvation we should look for solutions to the problems humans have created in the world: abuse to the physical world being one (if, indeed, humans are part of the problem of colony collapse). Our salvation should be a salve for the world, reflecting God’s truth, beauty, and goodness (these three words are known as metaphysical transcendentals in that they apply to both God and His creation).
Social. The fact that God loves the world is one of the great tenants of a Christian worldview (see John 3:16). God’s love for the world encompasses His entire creation, from molecules to man, from Gardnerella to galaxies; God’s love is endless. His love for humans includes the social fabric of our constitution, being a reflection of the divine community found in the Godhead, His tri-unity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In short, the whole universe is a vast community of participation. As Christians participating in two broader communities — the city of man and the city of God, as Augustine would remind us — we find that we yearn for the success of both. And when either of them is in peril, Christians need to act. As an example: when something is amiss within the city of God (the church), we must act Biblically and decisively to find a solution.
So, too, when something is amiss in the broader city of man: we must seek a solution for our society. And if the demise of bees—and hence, food, hurting our society—is real, Christians need to act. Put another way, our spiritual standing with Christ should influence and affect our social standing with humanity. And if it’s true that “one of every three bites of food eaten worldwide depends on pollinators, especially bees, for a successful harvest”  our concern should transcend concepts and take concrete steps to help remedy the problem. Here are a few things we can do, using the acronym TALK.
T—Tell. Tell people about the problem. Share with them statistics and stories of the importance of bees as part of God’s creation.
A—Act. Act in proactive ways. Support efforts like the Honeybee Conservancy by building a bee-friendly garden . Get involved with groups like A Rocha International and Creation Care .
L—Love. Love God’s creation and the people that inhabit it. Know that the two—people and place—are intertwined. And love them enough to be honest, sharing solutions: their need for Christ (non-believers) and the need to care for creation (for all people).
K—Knowledge. This word can be used in two ways. One, knowledge must be shared about the problem, and, two, knowledge must be shared on how to deal with the problem. The more we learn and know about colony collapse, the more we can offer tangible solutions to offset it.
Photo captions: 1) “The Gardner” by Daisy Patton, oil on archival print panel. (516 ARTS exhibit). 2) “Vanishing 11” Video installation by Susanna Carlisle and Bruch Hamilton. (516 ARTS exhibit.) 3) “Colony” by Talia Green. Archival pigment print. (516 ARTS exhibit.) 4) Brian Nixon.
About the writer: Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, artist, and minister. He’s a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus (BA), Veritas Evangelical Seminary (MA), and is a Fellow at Oxford Graduate School (D.Phil.). To learn more, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Nixon
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