What a beautiful world we live in! The earth is full of wondrous mountain ranges with snow-capped peaks which tear through the cloud covered skies above. Awe-inspiring waterfalls roar and thunder as majestic rivers pour forth into green forest-covered valleys below. This is a beauty that Christians are called to be good stewards of, and should be concerned about on an individual and collective level to preserve and restore it when possible. The scriptures teach it, it is a good witness, it is beneficial to us and future generations, and preserving it helps to clearly reveal an invisible God through His visible creation.
The scriptures are full of verses as to why a Christian should consider themselves an environmentalist. The easiest place to start examining where the Bible states that, is where it begins—in the book of Genesis. While it is true that God has given creation to mankind to rule over and subdue, it would do us well to see the first task that God gave the first man. In the Garden of Eden the first human, Adam, was put there to tend and to keep it (Genesis 2:15). The word tend in Hebrew means to work it and the word keep can be defined as to, “guard, observe, keep watch and ward, protect… and preserve” (Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon). If the first human’s first charge was to take care of the Garden of Eden, then it follows that it is something that God considered important. Rich Deem in commenting on this subject stated;
The Bible begins with a description of the events of creation. God’s personal involvement in the process is evident from the second verse, when God came to earth to personally direct its conversion to a world suitable for living creatures. One of the features of the creation account is God’s pleasure at each step of the process. Six times God affirmed that the creation was good in His sight. The idea that man is free to destroy God’s creation is at odds with God’s obvious enjoyment of His creation taught in Genesis one.
If it pleased God then, surely it would please Him now to guard, to ward, to protect and to preserve His creation. If we are to rule over creation, we are to do so in a way that protects it.
Not only do the scriptures affirm that we are to be good stewards of creation, but doing so will be a good witness to the world. Showing love to God’s creation by taking care to preserve and protect it will show the world that Christians are loving people. The way you care for the environment around you will reflect how much you also care for people around you as well. When I was a Boy Scout as a kid I was always taught the importance of leaving no trace. We were constantly told that we would make a good name for the Boy Scouts if we left a camp spot in better condition than when we had found it. If caring for the environment can make a good name for Boy Scouts then it would also make a good name for Christians. The more that Christians make as little impact on the environment as possible the more we will be a blessing to those around us.
Not only do the scriptures teach it, and would it be a good witness, but also in a very practical way caring for the environment is beneficial to us and future generations. Christians, like everyone else, must live on the earth until Christ returns. It only makes sense to preserve that earth in a livable way, so as to make life easier on ourselves and future generations. In the same way that we would take care of a house that we are living in (despite that it may only be temporary) we should take care of the environment that we are currently living in. We must not make the mistake of the early church in Jerusalem, who sold all their belongings in hopes that Christ would return immediately. This caused them to fall into extreme poverty and to be in danger of starvation. They were only saved by the offerings gathered by the Apostle Paul (Acts 2, Rom. 15:26). A simple way Christians can help to avoid depleting the earth’s resources and thereby avoid global poverty is by recycling. “Recycling reduces pollution and preserves the environmental condition. The energy saved in producing new goods from recycled materials goes a long way to helping global climate change. By minimizing the energy used in manufacturing the emission of greenhouse gases is also reduced.” (Help the Environment by Recycling. 2014.) We must use the earth as our temporary home to survive, and it would be within our interests to preserve it.
Christians should be interested in preserving the environment because it reveals an invisible God in a visible way. Romans 1:20 states “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,”. According to the Pew Research Center, liberals would rather live in a city while conservatives prefer rural areas (Political Polarization in the American Public. 2014.). According to another study by the same source the majority of liberals are most likely to be religiously unaffiliated while a majority of conservatives tend to have high levels of religious attendance (Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology. 2011.). You have to put the pieces together, but it is for that reason that I believe that those who live in urban areas are less aware of God than those who live in rural areas. The more that creation becomes muddied and diluted through the abuse of mankind the less it will portray that power and reality of a Creator. I live and grew up in a rural mountain community in the San Gabriel Mountains, and it is impossible not to think of God when you view the great majestic mountains by day or the innumerable and bright stars at night. I have also lived in the city, and experiencing the hustle and bustle business of city life (as well as the lack of nature), which often resulted in less personal time spent reflecting on the pure genius of God’s creation.
One of the arguments some Christians make when they are told that they should protect and preserve the environment is that they state that it is just a temporary place and that it is all going to burn someday. Former US Secretary of State James Watt once stated that the earth is, “merely a temporary way station on the road to eternal life…The earth was put here by the Lord for His people to subdue and to use for profitable purposes on their way to the hereafter.” While it is true that we are called by God to subdue and rule over the earth, and that God gave us the resources in it for our survival, that does not mean that we rule in such a way that is irresponsible and wasteful. Christians of all people should set the example in how to use the earth’s resources responsibly and to subdue it in a way that all can enjoy its beauty.
As you can see the Christian has many good reasons as to why they should be good stewards of God’s creation. Scripture gives us clear revelation that the first human’s first responsibility was to take care of the Garden of Eden– if it was important then it is important now. If we are loving and caring towards God’s creation it will be a good witness to the world that Christians are a caring and loving type of people. Not only are there good spiritual reasons to take care of the environment but it also just makes good practical and logical sense. This is where we live for the time being and we should take care of our temporary home. Lastly, and probably most importantly, taking care of the environment and preserving it enables creation to continue to be a clear and visible witness of the power and majesty of an invisible God. We live in a beautiful world, full of beautiful and amazing natural wonders. Let’s do the Christian thing and take good care of it.
The Holy Bible (New King James Version). Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Gen&c=1&p=0&rl=0&t=NK
Garden of Eden [Image] Retrieved from http://bible- library.com/imageresults?searchtext=god,adam,eve,eden,garden,paradise
Help the Environment by Recycling. Retrieved from http://www.benefits-of- recycling.com/helptheenvironmentbyrecycling/
Hebrew Lexicon :: H8104 (NKJV). Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8104&t=NKJV
Recycling Symbol [Image] Retrieved from http://www.southernmetalscompany.com/recycling/
Rich Deem. 2009. Is Christianity anti-environmental? Retrieved from http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/environment.html
Political Polarization in the American Public. Section 3: Political Polarization and Personal Life. Retrieved from http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/section-3-political- polarization-and-personal-life/
Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology. 2011. Section 3: Demographics and News Sources. Retrieved from http://www.people- press.org/2011/05/04/section-3- demographics-and-news-sources/
Picture of Yosemite [Photograph] Retrieved from http://wolpics.com/3d-wallpaper-yosemite- valley-in-winter-for-windows-7/
Watt, James. Ours Is the Earth. Saturday Evening Post (January/February 1982): 74-75.