I once read a piece by someone who was against Christians participating in Earth Day. I don’t remember the author, but his sentiments were something to the effect of “beware of the human tendency to worship the creation instead of the Creator.” While that’s not a wholly unwarranted caution (see Romans 1:20-25), I’d have to add the warning to beware of the human tendency to worship self and our own abilities. We still have a bit of Babel in us (Genesis 11). We cannot be content to build our skyscrapers and empires without taking heed to the way our “progress” harms our environment and actually causes us to work against the principles and goals God has established for us. Here are six reasons Christians should take responsibility for caring for the earth:
1 – We should care for the earth because God mandated that we do so.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” – Genesis 2:15 (all Scripture references from NIV)
From the beginning, God told mankind to care for His creation. In the first chapter of Genesis (1:26-28), this command includes the fish and the waters, the birds and the sky, the animals and the land.
We have a mandate to care for the earth. Why would we turn over our authority and commission to others?
2 – We should care for the earth because creation brings God glory and reveals God to man.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.“ – Psalm 19:1
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made …” – Romans 1:20
God uses nature to bear witness to Himself. Wouldn’t our care of nature help us be better witnesses to the world?
3 – We should care for the earth because it’s God’s teaching tool.
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” – Proverbs 6:6
This Proverb continues to instruct us to watch the ant to see how to gain a harvest. In contrast to the ant, man is called a sluggard and challenged to wake up and get to work. Otherwise, it says, “poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.” We have to admit, part of our lack of concern for the environment has to do with apathy and laziness.
I used to say that I’d be happy to recycle if they would make it easier – I just didn’t want to mess with different bins for different types of trash. Thankfully, my municipality did eventually make it easier. I have to wonder if I would have ever started recycling if they hadn’t. We often prefer to turn a blind eye to the notion that our world does actually have limited resources and that we harm it by our wastefulness and desire for convenience. Participating in environmental causes could teach us a great deal about ourselves. I’m glad that the younger generation is being taught to be better stewards. Shouldn’t more Christians be taking on the responsibility to help teach these lessons?
4 – We should care for the earth because our sin is the cause of its suffering.
“Cursed is the ground because of you …” – Genesis 3:17
Creation suffered from the curse when man sinned. Plants that flourished now had to contend with thorns and weeds. Animals that lived together in peace became enemies. Romans 8:22-25 says that all creations groans with us as we await our full redemption from the cares of this world brought on by sin. This passage also says that the “creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” We are supposed to be helping to redeem creation as we await the final redemption. Are we, instead, making it groan even more?
5 – We should care for the earth because God cares for the earth.
After the flood (also brought on by man’s sin), God not only made a covenant with Noah, but also with the earth. When he put the rainbow in the sky as a sign of this covenant to never again destroy the earth by flood, God said:
“This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” – Genesis 9:12-13
If God would make a covenant with the earth, why should a Christian be hesitant to do so?
6 – We should care for the earth because we are called to be good stewards of all that God has given us.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10
We would all agree that we are to be good stewards of what God has given us. We have often heard messages about being good stewards of our money, our homes, our talents. Why do we balk at being good stewards of this earth? We should look at our stewardship of this earth as a service to others who share this planet with us, as well as a service to the Creator of all things.
If the heavens and the trees and the beauty of creation all testify to God’s goodness, shouldn’t we seek to keep it healthy and beautiful?