(This is the second post in a series from contributor Jim Mullins on environmental stewardship. Read Part 1.)
You wake up, eat some eggs for breakfast, spend time reading scripture, take a shower, put on clothes, get into your car, and drive off to work or school—all of this before 8 AM.
God is the owner of the chicken that laid those eggs for your breakfast, the tree from which the paper in your Bible was made, the water that poured through your shower drain, the soil of the cotton farm that provided fabric for your t-shirt, and the air outside of your car’s exhaust pipe.
Everything belongs to God. It’s his, not ours.
This is the first thing we must acknowledge if we are to be faithful stewards of his creation. It’s important that we watch documentaries, read statistics, and reflect on the very specific issues that are connected to the condition of the earth. However, we must first and foremost understand why we should care for the environment. There are many robust theological reasons for this, but we must start with the reality that the world belongs to God, not us. We get the privilege of being stewards.
Rivers, trees, soil, and animals are good, but they are not God. Centering our lives around any of these things is what the Bible calls idolatry and this greatly dishonors God. When discussing topics like environmental stewardship, it’s vital to acknowledge the distinction between the creation and the Creator.
However, a lack of respect and care for creation is often the fruit of a different kind of idolatry: self-worship. Instead of idolizing nature, we end up worshiping ourselves, acting as if we are the owners of the world and we can do whatever we want with the physical creation. This is a human-centered view of the world, rather than a God-centered one. Both nature-centered and human-centered views of the world are wrong and idolatrous, but a God-centered view of the world acknowledges that the world belongs to God and that we should reflect his image as stewards of a good creation.
The Earth Belongs to the Lord
Yes, all of it. From microbes to Mexican wolves, from the soil to the sky, every ocean, and every drop of rain—he reigns as Lord of all! The Bible clearly teaches that God is the creator and sustainer of his earth (see Gen. 1-2; Deut. 10: 14; Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15-21). Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof.” Out of reverence for God, we work hard to be good stewards of a world that belongs to him. This is our primary motive for creation care.
Most of us would respect another person’s property if it were loaned to us, or put under our care. We would be ashamed if we returned a car that we borrowed from a friend with smashed windows and flat tires. If we respect the property of others, how much more should we respect and care for God’s creation? A commitment to creation care is a commitment to the Lordship of Christ. He created it, owns it, sustains it, delights in it, and cares for it. We in turn respond with a commitment to humble and joyful stewardship.
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