It was just a little over a month ago that we celebrated Earth Day but it was in the spring of 1970, that U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson originally had his idea. His plan was for all of us to take one day a year to think about our actions and the influence they are having on the planet. As the father of a daughter with asthma, there is rarely a day I don’t think about my actions, efforts, and sometimes lack of, to make a difference. Long before Senator Nelson, I believe there were many others who were passionate about the environment and all of creation. In Genesis 1:26 God says;
“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Adam and Eve were the original caretakers of the Earth. It was what God had intended. Unfortunately, too many of us have lost sight of this or misinterpreted what it means to rule over the Earth. It’s not about taking whatever we can because we have the right to do it. We all look to those who lead our countries or cities for many things. In choosing a leader or ruler we look for someone who is wise, just, and will protect us in our time of need. Too many of us have forgotten that as the “rulers of the Earth” we are supposed to be the keeper of the planet as God had intended.
King David mentions his appreciation for God’s creation dozens of times in the book of Psalms. All of creation was his inspiration; the moon, stars, mountains and rivers inspired and created a sense of awe in David’s mind and heart. In Psalm 115 he reminds us that we are take care of the Earth. Was this another reason that David was known as the man after God’s own heart?
I also believe Jesus was concerned about the environment because he saw it in a larger picture. I know there are some who will think I’m taking this too far but I truly believe this. I don’t really like the term environmentalist because it has the connotation that it is only about animals, trees and the air. But really when it comes right down to it, it is about people. Trees are cut or burned in the third world because people need to farm so they can eat. Our oceans are over-fished because people need to eat. Factories pollute because of our desire (mine included) for more and more stuff. Jesus was compassionate and he cared for people. Whether they were sick, blind, or hungry, Jesus showed his compassion. (See Matthew 9:35-36.) It was always about people.
I read an interesting story online recently in a magazine called Relevant. In this article the writer Aly Lewis talks about an organization called Plant With Purpose which was started to help fight extreme poverty by planting trees. It is such a simple idea. With a little education, and a few trees, this organization is looking to make the difference in the lives of those who struggling with the environmental crisis the most.
As Christians, I don’t believe one day a year is enough to be conscious about the decisions that we make. It has to be a lifestyle, everyday. Just like Jesus was concerned about people, we need to do the same. The decisions we make daily, not only concern us but they can also have consequence for others. Every decision that I make, both good and bad, reflects how I feel about my relationship with others and God. If I truly believe that God is the Creator and I want to worship Him, then I should worship in all aspects of my life and not just when the music is playing on Sunday morning.