‘Cherishing God’s creation’
At the funeral of Prince Philip there was a reading from Ecclesiasticus chapter 43, which includes a verse that says, “Look at the rainbow, and praise him who made it; it is exceedingly beautiful in its brightness.”
Two weeks ago, Bishop Ruth led a seminar for clergy and others on the subject, ‘Called to re-build’. The basis of her talk was the Book of Nehemiah and the repair of the walls of Jerusalem. She was excellent. After the teaching session I continued to read through Nehemiah and in chapter 9 was this verse:
‘Blessed by your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry hosts, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitude of heaven worship you.’
Why should Christian’s care about the environment? Most Christians believe that God gave human beings a special responsibility within creation to cultivate it, guard it and use it wisely. This is what we call stewardship. People are called to work within creation and to look after it:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15
Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. Genesis 9:3
However, as the Earth belongs to God, people must respect it and hand it back to God unspoiled:
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Psalm 24:1
These passages from the Bible show the central message is that God is the one who provides for humans and humans should show they are thankful by taking care of what God has given them.
The Bible gives three main reasons why we should care for the environment.
- First, God Himself says that His creation is very good (Genesis 1: 31).
- The second and even more important reason why we should care for the environment is that in Genesis 1.28 and 2.15, God specifically commanded humankind to do so
- The third reason is that one day the cosmos will be renewed and re-created as the ‘New heaven and new earth’ Revelation 21. That will bring the fullness of life that God intended and purposed for His creation: a place where people will truly be at home, where God will dwell with His people, and both they and the whole of creation will worship Him and give Him glory.
So how we treat the environment now ought to be a preview of what we will do in the new creation. As Martin Luther is supposed to have remarked, “If I knew Jesus would return tomorrow, I would plant a tree today.” As Christians we should model the creation–kingdom ethic for all people and work in partnership to steward the earth as part of our worship of God.
‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’ Luke 12: 48