January 24th 2009

Help Planet Earth

“You have made him ruler over the works of your hands;
You put everything under his feet:
All flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
All that swim the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Psalm 8:6-9 NIV

The lyrics of the spiritual song above explain that God has placed all of nature under our care.

But, what have they done to our planet? Or, rather, what have we done?

An important job given to Adam, the biblical first man, was to take care of the paradise into which he had been born. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). The story goes that Adam blew it on day one by eating the fruit his partner Eve gave him from a forbidden tree that would produce unhealthy desires, and then both of them were quickly expelled from the most beautiful garden in the world before they could do more harm.

It is difficult sometimes to comprehend all the scientific details, and sometimes the scientists themselves disagree about their interpretation, but one thing appears to be pretty obvious: mankind has not been a good steward of this sparkling jewel that we call earth.

What should Christians do? Just pray “your kingdom come”, and leave sorting out the whole mess to Christ when He returns? That sounds a cop-out to me. Is there a spiritual responsibility to be ecologically caring?

An intriguing biblical verse is in the mystical book of Revelation. It is discussing what will happen when Christ returns. It says it is a day of judgment and of salvation, and a time “for destroying those who destroy the earth” (11:18). Is God displeased with the wanton destruction of the tropical rainforests, the spoiling of the seas, the dwindling habitat of myriads of species, the polluting of the air that we breathe?

“The earth is the Lord’s” another song proclaims (Psalm 24:1). It is not ours. It does not belong to nations and kings and politicians. It belongs to God, and men and women are only custodians who have failed and continue to fail in nurturing and cherishing this wonderful world.

Is looking after the earth a Christian concern? I think so. God cares about the earth, and so should those who follow Him. Caring about ecology is an expression of love towards others who share the planet with us, and it also honours the Creator. Paul, in his poetic imagery, writes that creation waits in “eager expectation” for the children of God to be revealed so that it can be delivered from corruption (Romans 8:19 23). The good news is that the children of God are here: we are here.

Great and glorious Father, Creator, thank you for the earth that you have given to us, with all of its diversity and beauty. I regret the terrible things that humankind has done to it. Please help me to be more caring in my approach towards it and thus glorify you. In Jesus’ name,

Study by James Henderson