Well, I got yelled at today. Pretty righteously, I might add.
Let me confess something...I'm environmentally irresponsible. I run the water too much and burn too much gasoline. Today I washed oil-based paint off into the leaves and plants behind the house I was working at. Very bad. (I live in Asheville, NC, if that means anything to you)
The neighbor saw it.
The neighbor was very mad. VERY mad. His main protest was the protection of the birds and squirrels, the desecration of nature, which he was able to enjoy from his back porch. Over my protests, he lambasted me with every profanity and degrading name in the book.
Seriously, I don't think I have ever been the brunt of such a torrent of rage in my life. He actually came down off his porch and walked towards me and, shouting, threatened to beat me up. I'm not even joking. Then he called me a stupid m*****f*****.
Through it all, I managed to keep the snide comment count to 1. I didn't really know how to answer him in the moment, so when it had passed, all the possible responses came to mind(as they often do). Here are the ones I came up with:
1. Calm, my son. The wrath of man doth not accomplish the righteousness of God.
2. If I don't wash my brush off outside, I'll be washing it off inside(at your request) and the chemicals will be going down the drain, into the sewer, and then into the ground. It will do no less environmental ill there than it will in the pile of leaves out back. So the reason for your indignation is really just a self-centered desire to preserve your backdoor view. Not some vaunted concern for the environment. You hypocrite.
3. You daily throw away trash that goes to landfills that destroy the landscape on a much larger scale then my brush-washing. You also take part in an economy which is arguably a major cause in the daily starving deaths of 16,000 children, and worldwide, massive scale unfairness and social injustice. And you're going to lecture me about "birds and squirrels?"
But the response that seemed most theologically accurate and Jesus-follower-like, after I went through these options was(And I doubt I would have said it even if I had thought of it in time),
4. You're right. And actually, you don't know the half of it. The kind of repugnant, despicable wrongdoing I engage in every day would probably chill your blood if you knew its implications in the scheme of God's justice and holiness. I not only neglect and abuse the environment, but far worse: I despise and abuse of the Maker of the environment. It's called sin, and I am guilty. Praise God that he crushed his Son so that I don't have to go to hell for it.
I plan on taking my dirty brushes home and washing them there from now on. Where there won't be so much weeping and gnashing of teeth.