Earth day has almost come to an end, and there are many questions surrounding earth day and religion. There's something intrinsically interesting about a holiday that celebrates the planet we live on, and unfortunately this concept has been warped by political agenda, new age philosophy, and the worship of nature.
For the Christian faith, I've heard Godly people degrade this day as an "Al Gore" holiday referring to the documentary The Inconvenient Truth which outlined a philosophy steeped in climate change and human actions depleting the earth of its natural resources.
Others quote verses like Romans 1:21-23 "For although
they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to
him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were
darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." And these arguments try to vilify any day that might give rise to earth worship.
But I think there are other ways to look at this day, that might help fit right in with the Christian Faith.
1. God made it.
The creation of the world is one of the most important issues concerning the Christian faith. When we ask things like, "Where did we come from?" the answers give rise to belief systems that dictate the reasons "Why we are here." The fact that God created the earth gives me hope on earth day because the Creation of the world is a wonderful, beautiful, mysterious act of creative genius.
Just think about it.
The diversity of all the plants and animals that came from one Creative God can be seen all around us. It doesn't demand that we worship the creation, but rather; it gives us more reasons to worship the Creator as He knit together the intricate diversity we see when we hike a tall mountain, sail a deep blue ocean, or take a walk in the woods to hear the birds singing back and forth to one another.
2. God gave us dominion over it.
Genesis gives us an account of the creation act, and at the end of creation, God gave man dominion over all of it. "The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." (v.15) From the beginning of time, God gave man the job to take care of the earth. It was our only job. We didn't have to work for food, or to make money to pile up stuff; no our job was to take care of God's creation.
One of the greatest studies I did in Seminary was to see the ancient Hebrew people and their respect for the creation. They understood the earth gave rise to their food, and the reason they gave thanks for the food was because their hands worked the ground, the rain gave rise to the crops, and mankind figured out how to worship God through the creation. They gave thanks for the beautiful systems God made to allow for us all to survive here. It was a spiritual time for the ancients and they took every chance to remember, God gave us one job; to take care of the earth.
3. It only makes sense to care for our environment
Scientists can now tell us the effects of the environment on our well being. If we take care of the water systems, we drink clean water. If we take care of the ground, crops grow and we can eat healthy food. If we take care of the pollution in the air, we can breath clean air. There's nothing New Age about wanting to see our bodies as a part of the creation story, and we exist inside of our environment. God created the earth. God created man. God created man to live inside His environment, and it only makes sense that the more we take care of the environment, we take care of our bodies.
The Bible speaks of our bodies, and the command to make sure we take care of them. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;" (1 Corinthians 16:9) Of course the reference refers to the sexuality of our bodies. But if we need to take care of our bodies sexually, doesn't it make sense the environment we live in is an important place to use good stewardship?
4. Christians should be the strongest environmentalist.
I think the problem between the Christian and the environmental movement is that the environmentalists took hold of the issue first and made the earth an object of worship, rather than a place of tending. They used the worship of the creation to form policies in politics, rather than using the framework of a Creator/Creation logic.
I do believe the environmental case goes array when we spend millions of dollars saving extinct animals, and we turn our eye of execution away from the issue of abortion, infanticide, and poverty related diseases. It seems we need to spend our energy taking care of those things as much as we take care of the animals, but this doesn't give us the right to vilify the environmental issues and turn a def ear to the need to be responsible for our care of the earth.
5. Believing in the New Heaven and New Earth Philosophy to negate issues of the Environment is to deny the whole rest of the planet the availability to live in this one.
Many people believe that God is creating a New Earth, so what's the point. We just need to use it and abuse it, because God is coming to restore it anyway, right? Well, there are millions of people who haven't lived to see that day, and millions of people suffered from diseases that we could have stopped, if only we used good stewardship of the earth like we were commanded in the beginning.
I do believe there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth as the Bible describes, but that doesn't give me the right to trash this one while I live in it. I believe the principles of Christian living dictate that we take care of what we have in the now, and let God worry about what is going to happen in the future.
So here on earth day, may we be a people who see the beauty of the Creation as an outpouring of a wonderfully majestic Creator who exercised His power to give us a planet to live on.
May we re-evaluate our views of the environment without confusing adversarial politics.
May we see the creation and tend to it even it means we have to re-tool our business practices to take care of earth we live in. After all, it's the only one we have.
Don't let Al Gore or the Environmental Defense fund steal away the message we have to live in harmony with the earth we live on. It's a Creation/Creator message, and the world needs to hear about the beauty of the Creator and His continuing restoration of All Things whether in heaven or on earth. (Colossians 1:20)