by Tim Hall
If you have access to any media, you’ve surely heard about Earth Day. The celebrations officially take place on Tuesday, April 22, the date of observance since 1970. Senator Gaylord Nelson first proposed the event, calling on Americans to use the occasion to reflect on their uses and abuses of the planet. Since former Vice President Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth” (for which he won an Oscar and a Nobel Prize), environmental issues have grown to even larger proportions.
Many view “environmentalism” as camouflage for a politically liberal agenda, and some admittedly use the movement for such. Many deify “Mother Earth,” and regard all living creatures as equals, something the Bible decidedly does not condone (see, for example, Genesis 1:26-28). Some feel that anything that falls into the category of environmentalism is akin to organizations like Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, etc., groups that are radical in their aims and methods.
Before we dismiss concerns for the earth as merely a political issue, let’s consider some statements from God’s word.
When God placed Adam in Eden, certain responsibilities were attached: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15, NKJV). To “keep it” implies, on the basis of the Hebrew, an attempt to preserve, to use wisely, so that its usefulness will continue. Adam was blessed to live there, but God retained ultimate ownership. Adam was to take care of what belonged to God.
Psalm 50:10,11 declares God to still be the ultimate owner of the material realm: “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are mine.” Just as a tenant must observe the rules of the landlord from whom he rents, so people must consult God for proper guidance on how to use earth’s resources.
Has God given guidance on how to use earth’s resources? As seen in Genesis 1:26-28, people have been given “dominion” over these resources. Instead of viewing animals as our cousins, we see them as provision granted to us by a gracious Lord. But that’s not yet the entire picture.
1 Peter 4:10 adds another dimension to our role on earth: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” People are to be stewards of God’s grace, and the rich resources of this planet are manifestations of that grace. Instead of selfishly gobbling up all within our sight, we must consider others’ needs as well.
Environmentalism can be a vehicle for liberal political views. But it can also be a way to consider how we are using what God has given to us. It’s not a bad idea to periodically assess our stewardship.
by Tim Hall