Christians and the Environment: Why Care?

Last winter I spent a few days, like millions of people along the East coast, looking at snow and ice.  My wife and I attempted to fly home from Dallas TX as "SnowMaggedon" descended upon us all.  Our plane was one of the last flights to land in Charlotte and we drove home on icy roads that looked like a scene from a Zombie Apocalypse film.  

A thought occurred to me as we pulled into our driveway under heavy snowfall during a particularly cold and snowy winter and I said out loud, "So much for global warming!"  Like many, I'm skeptical of media hype.  Even when I hear claims that "90% of the world's scientists agree that major climate change is taking place!" --I still wonder how much of what we hear is true science versus agenda-driven propaganda.  Yet those numbers are hard to ignore.

The next morning my family awoke to a snow-covered ground and a world made fresh by pretty white precipitation.  We all knew what that meant: 4 Wheelers!

We spent the day wrapped in wool and GoreTex, pulling each other on tubes and doing donuts on our ATVs.  And the thought occurred to me, "What a beautiful world God has entrusted to us!"

This is essence of the conundrum many Christians find themselves in.  On one hand, we often say things like "this world is not my home" and unwittingly cease to care about the actual earth that we stand on, live on, and depend upon.  And on the other hand, we intuitively know that this planet is the only one we have so we better take care of it; for ourselves, our children, and out of a sense of obedience and stewardship, and for the glory of God.

The truth is, we don't have to choose between two extremes.  We are not redeemed by recycling.  Nor do we prove how heavenly minded we are by ignoring the mandate God gave us to care for His created earth.  You must resist the temptation to gravitate toward either position and see yourself as a trusted, responsible caretaker for all of creation.  This is an issue of stewardship.

The narrative of scripture begins in Genesis where God, among other things, commands the first humans (and by proxy, all of us) to tend and care for the earth; its soil, it's animals, its plants and its oceans and all its inhabitants.  Our care for creation not only gives us a home we can enjoy now, but it speaks to the reality that one day we will live forever in a "new heaven and a new earth" in which God will make all things new.

We should care for this world because it's God's, and because He gave it to us.  He entrusted this planet into our care and the more we care for it, the more we are able to benefit from it and enjoy it; whether tending a garden, recycling our cardboard boxes, swimming in the creek at a friend's house, or riding a 4 wheeler in the snow.

See yourself as a steward of creation.  Envision what kind of planet your great grandchildren will inherit.  Do you want them to be able to drink water from the faucet like you?  Swim in the ocean like you?  Eat a salad or a steak like you?  If so, then what we do now creates the future we desire for them to have on this planet.  Since none of us know when Jesus will return and redeem all of creation, we should take our stewardship seriously in the meantime.