Dear people of God:
Today is Earth Day. I know, you’ve seen that everywhere you look, but I didn’t want to miss it. In the light of our devotion to the way of God, Earth Day encourages me to share two thoughts with you.
One is that the restrictions we’re living under have been good for the world around us. That is, we’re cutting back on carbon emissions, so the air is cleaner; we’re reducing our consumption of fossil fuels. People have seen more wildlife than usual. I don’t think this will endure long enough to make a significant difference on climate change or any of the other ecological challenges we face, but it may give us a hint of our capability. The question is whether we can change our impact on the Earth without doing as much economic harm as people are suffering right now. Will we take the time and trouble to figure that out? I hope so.
My second thought is to remind all of us that we are not the center of the universe. There is a fiction among some Christians that God created the universe for our good, that we are the purpose of Creation. That way of thinking leads to the assumption that we can do to the world anything we desire as long as it makes us happy. But that Bible makes clear that God created the universe for the glory of God, not for the pleasure of humanity. Our responsibility to the Earth is to live on it in such a way as to glorify the One who created it.
“Reduce, reuse, recycle.” Those are steps to follow this Earth Day. And to continue to work on in days to come.
Madeleine L’Engle wrote that she was troubled by the tendency to refer to ourselves as “consumers.” After all, to “consume” means to “use up.” Is that our hope? To use up the Earth’s resources, the Earth’s beauty, the Earth’s capacity to glorify God? To use them up so that no generation to follow us can participate in the Earth’s song of praise?
No, of course not; in general, we human beings are better than that. Christians – human beings redeemed by and devoted to Jesus Christ – have a deep reason to care for the Earth: to glorify God.
During the COVID-19 restrictions, I am posting special messages from time to time. This one is from April 22, 2020.