The environment is something we can’t live without, and yet, we as Christians know it will one day be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10). So should we care about it? After all, if it will be destroyed anyways why look after it? Does the Bible even address this issue? Though this may not be among of the biggest controversies within the Christian circle, it’s certainly an important one.
THE ENVIRONMENT ISN’T OURS
This may be surprising to some, but God didn’t give ownership of everything He created over to us. It may appear at times that we own everything because we can do whatever we want with it. This can be especially true when we buy a piece of land. Who really owns the land? Is it us? Perhaps by another human’s perspective, this is true, and indeed must be respected because, by law, a person isn’t allowed to trespass onto another person’s property. However, Psalm 24:1-2 says everything, including us, belong to God; “…The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” There are also many other verses that convey this message (Exo. 19:5; Deut. 10:14; 1Chron. 29:11; Job 41:11; Psa. 50:12).
WE ARE TO BE GOOD STEWARDS
So it has been established that God indeed owns everything. God has entrusted humans to take care of His creation. This is where we get the word stewardship; basically taking care of something that isn’t yours, but has been entrusted to you by the owner. We see this command from the very beginning in Genesis 1:28. God has given us, as those made in His very image, the privilege to take care of all that He has made. As to what it means to be made in the image of God, we can go back and forth all day, but at the very least we can determine it means we have the authority to rule and take care of creation.
This isn’t to say we’re God’s slaves, being forcibly worked in order to take care of what He has made. Rather, it is a high honour. The manager of a company doesn’t work as a slave, but instead works as someone holding a high position, and receives rewards for their hard labour. This is essentially what human beings are; managers over God’s creation. Holding the highest position in all the earth and under the authority of the Most High God, and we have to make a choice. Are we going to be good stewards or bad ones?
This has a lot to do with salvation. Imagine being put in as the manager of the biggest company in the world. You had done absolutely nothing to earn that position, but it was purely out of the grace of the CEO that he gave you this high honour job. Now the choice remains, are you going to do the best work you can possibly do for the owner? Or are you going to simply ignore the CEO and run the company according to your standards and values? Satan was in a similar standing and chose to rebel against his Creator in order to receive the honour and glory that only rightfully belongs to God. Pride always leads to destruction. The cliché line from the movie Spider-man has much truth to it; “with great power comes great responsibility.” Because of our high position as God’s stewards of His creation, the weight of our choice has high consequences, and it all affects eternity.
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
In knowing all creation is a gift from God as well as acknowledging the position we hold, this alone gives us enough of a reason to care about the environment. If a father lets his child drive his Ferrari, will that child then proceed to treat that car as poorly as they possibly can? Of course not! If the child loves their father and appreciates the kind act of letting them use one of his most prized possessions, then they will treat that car with extreme care. It’s no different with Christians. God has let us use the Earth and because we love Him and all He has done for us, it is our duty and pleasure to take good care of it.
Now suppose the dad has intentions of destroying the car afterward, for whatever reason. Is this a good excuse for the child to abuse the car? Absolutely not! The dad still holds his son responsible for caring for the car. Whatever the father intends on doing with the car afterward is only his concern, not his son’s. So the common excuse that God is going to destroy the environment anyways, therefore, there is no need to care for it is not really a valid argument at all. The only thing humans should be concerned about is the task at hand, to care for the environment, not what God’s going to do with it later. I am not saying it’s not good to study the end times, I’m rather saying it’s not a good excuse to get out of our responsibility as stewards.
A RESPONSE OF THANKFULNESS
The appropriate response for us to have in knowing where all our blessings of creation come from, we must express our thankfulness to God. People don’t receive a gift from someone and not thank them for it. That’s seen as rude and shows their unappreciation for the gift. How much more of an insult is this in the eyes of our Creator, especially when we depend on His gift for our very existence? It can be easy to forget to thank God for all the blessing He has provided for us, but the very act of thanking Him is to be part of our everyday lives. “that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Psalms 30:12).