Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.– Genesis 1:26-27 NLT
The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.Genesis 2:15 NLT
The last week of October is arguably the most beautiful week of the year in Pennsylvania. The trees explode in unbelievable colors and whether the sky is blue or covered with clouds it does not take away from the beauty of the fall foliage. I live along a river in Pennsylvania and while the river is rather disgusting (iykyk), there is something about the red and orange leaves above that make you forget about the murky water below.
I have been thinking a lot about Creation lately. Normally, when I think about Creation I immediately go to people, image bearers. However, I have been increasingly fascinated by the creation around me — land, food sources, the space I take up, how I contribute to the care of the earth, etc. It has been sparked in some ways by moving to a new place and establishing new routines and in part from discussions we have been having in my Tuesday night Bible study on Creation care. Truthfully, it has consumed a lot of my thinking.
It is not that I haven’t wanted to care for the earth or to be mindful of how I live and consume, but I have been much more focused on the command to love your neighbors and less on the command “to tend and watch over” creation (Gen. 2:15). I think so often I have been surrounded by other believers who are so focused on loving their neighbors that it seems taboo to love the earth too. For some reason it is thought that if you prioritize caring for the earth, it somehow takes away from loving people. In all of my musing lately, I have come to realize these faulty, albeit unintentional, thought patterns in myself as well.
And no, this isn’t a post to spark a debate about climate change or whether we should use gas versus electricity or where “tree hugging” comes into play. It is merely an opportunity to pause and think about the responsibility we have been given to love others and to be good stewards of our earthly home. What does it mean to reign over the fish of the sea and the birds in the sky (Genesis 1:26)? Is being a good steward of my resources a way to glorify God? How can loving my neighbor and caring for the earth go hand in hand?
I think Billy Graham summed it up pretty well:
“Why should we be concerned about the environment? It isn’t just because of the dangers we face from pollution, climate change, or other environmental problems—although these are serious. For Christians, the issue is much deeper: We know that God created the world, and it belongs to Him, not us. Because of this, we are only stewards or trustees of God’s creation, and we aren’t to abuse or neglect it. The Bible says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). When we fail to see the world as God’s creation, we will end up abusing it. Selfishness and greed take over, and we end up not caring about the environment or the problems we’re creating for future generations.”– Billy Graham
While the utmost importance as a believer is to love God and love your neighbor, we would be remiss to neglect the care of our earthly home. Now I know that changes in my life like this won’t happen overnight, but I have to focus on what is within my locus of control. Taking it one step at a time, this is what I am committing to:
- Shopping at my local farmer’s market for produce and planning meals around what is in season
- Committing to recycling
- Swap out plastics (ie. grocery bags, ziploc bags, plastic wrap) with reusable substitutes
- Setting a food, clothing, & home budget that focuses on less consumerism and more sustainability
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”Psalm 24:1