There are few topics that I’ve ever encountered that cause as much controversy and polarizing opinions as the environment. People argue about global warming, the unequal treatment and rights of all species, and even whether the whole environment debate itself is overblown. Sound familiar?
Yet, for many of us as Christians, I’ve found that either we don’t have a position, or we just hope that all of the controversy just goes away. It’s no wonder that Christians as a whole have been the slowest to become environmentally responsible.
Perhaps you can relate. I know I can. I confess that I haven’t always been the most sensitive when it came to living a “green” lifestyle, and I’ve often just glossed over the issue. In fact, it was only a short time ago that I began to really study the Bible in depth when it came to this polarizing issue. It was then that I began realize that, first and foremost, we need to look at what God has to say about how we should think, act and respond in regard to the environment.
What I discovered is that we as Christians ought to be the most environmentally conscious people in all of the Earth since we believe in the God who created it.
Here are a few reasons why:
- The earth belongs to God. Psalm 24:1-2 says, The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.The earth matters to Him. And Genesis 1 says, “God created the heavens and the earth…” Therefore, one of the ways we honor Him is that we respect what He has made, we study what He has made and we give Him honor, credit and praise for the beauty and provision He has made for us.
- God appointed mankind to rule over the earth. Psalm 115:16 says, “The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind.” God has given this earth to us; therefore, as the Earth’s caretakers we are to protect the land, animals and vegetation for the common good. In Gen. 1:28, God blessed Adam and Eve and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” The Bible is clear that it’s our responsibility to care for the Earth the way God would care for it. This means that we are to use the earth, but not abuse it.
- The earth has intrinsic value and reflects the character and beauty of the creator. Psalm 19:1-2 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.”
Just like a painting tells you a lot about its artist, so the earth tells us about its Creator. God made oxygen, plants, and the creatures all for our benefit and also to reflect who He is. This means we’re to explore the earth but not exploit it. We are to enjoy it but not worship it.
So what does it look like to live in light of this truth? We can start by focusing on the main issues such as clean air, water, productivity and progress with constraints for conservation, eliminating waste and recycling, with each person doing their own part. But the bottom line is that we need to treat the earth with the same priority that God does – and the earth really matters to God!
This week, we’re starting the series Culture Shock. In it, we will learn more about what God has to say about the environment and about other polarizing issues such as abortion, sex and homosexuality. We’ll learn how we can respond to others about these issues and communicate our convictions in such a way that it reflects God’s own heart. My prayer is that during our time together we’ll discover the power of bringing God’s light – not heat – to the core issues of today.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip