Maybe it’s because Earth Day is this weekend. Maybe it’s just that I’ve added some new friends on Facebook (one of whom posted this card). But lately, I’ve noticed a trend—Christians are under attack for their lack of involvement in the environmental movement. For the most part, I think we deserve it.
I know there are Christian environmental organizations (Google “creation care” sometime), and they’re working hard and making a difference. I wonder, though—why aren’t there more? Why don’t we hear about them? Why doesn’t anyone care?
Perhaps we think it doesn’t matter, since “it’s all going to burn” anyway.
It’s true that this world is a mess, and it’s going to get worse. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:19 – 22).
Paul was fully aware of how fallen our world is, but his words in Romans 1 make it clear that Creation still reflects the Creator. There is enough of God’s character evident in nature that anyone can see Him:
… since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)
Paul didn’t write this about the perfect planet God created in Eden; he meant the words for his time and for ours. Even today, if one truly has eyes to see, God is inescapable. Nature speaks to those who might never pick up a Bible. It bears witness to the One who created it. God places signs leading to Himself in many places. We would do well to preserve those signs.
Perhaps we are too busy fighting other battles
The American church is consumed with fighting cultural battles over gay rights and abortion. Then there’s human trafficking, missions, world hunger, AIDS…. In light of all the other things we can be involved in, we don’t see environmental stewardship as worthy of our time and energy.
No matter your opinion on some of topics listed above, I think that we agree they’re important and must be addressed. However… Adam’s very first job description is that of Eden’s caretaker. See Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Nowhere have I found any scripture that lets us off the hook.
In many ways, it’s a lack of environmental stewardship that has led to poverty, which in turn leads to hunger, slavery, war, and disease. The Sahara is a case in point—marginal areas have been overgrazed, causing the desert to expand, causing decreased rainfall (yes, foliage “attracts” precipitation), causing poverty. In Bangladesh, deforestation upstream has led to cataclysmal flooding downstream.
The connections are complex, and we do well to listen to God and do what He says. Not everyone is called to focus on every issue, but we shouldn’t damage creation in our zeal to change the world in another area.
Perhaps we’re afraid of partnering with those radical, left-wing tree huggers.
Many more American Christians align themselves with conservative politics (although that is beginning to change with a new generation of believers), and most avid environmentalists are liberals. We tend to avoid one another. Is that what God would have us do?
One of the many reasons I am involved up to my eyebrows in our local Audubon chapter is that I wanted these wonderful people to see that this Christian, at least, cares about nature. Maybe it’s time to extend an olive branch and learn that in some areas, we just might have common goals.
No matter what your viewpoint is on the literalness of Genesis 1 and 2, it’s clear that in the beginning, God created. Shouldn’t we conserve and appreciate that which God has made and called “very good”? Christians, of all people, should realize the value God places in His creation, and seek to preserve it until it is remade anew in the age to come.
How do you obey God’s mandate to care for the earth?