God and the Environment
The environment is a pivotal part of God’s creation and includes all nature, animal life and humanity. God’s relationship with creation can be traced throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
Genesis tells us that in the beginning God spent six days creating the heavens and the earth, each day reflecting on his creative activity with pleasure and declaring his work to be ‘good’. The environment is inherently good, and reveals the nature of our creative God.
In Genesis 2 God creates human beings and commands them to ‘fill the earth and subdue it’. God’s proclamation means that humans have a special responsibility for caring for the environment.
In Genesis 4 we get a glimpse of how deeply bonded God is to the environment. When Cain kills Abel, God tells Cain: “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” When God’s creation is impacted in some way, God feels it profoundly.
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was also bound to creation in a fundamental way. In being crucified on the cross, Christ reconciled the entire created order to God. In the New Testament we learn that the entire created order was created through, and for, Christ who sustains it and reconciles it to God. It is also revealed that God’s redemptive purposes will be brought about through the creation of a new heaven and new earth.
Our relationship to the environment should reflect God’s deeply entrenched relationship with it, and his wishes for his own creative masterpiece. Loving the environment provides us with an opportunity to engage with God’s creative work and to sense how deep is joy is in it. A participation in love for the environment is a participation in the love of God.
Caring for Creation
In order to love the environment, we need to be deliberate in our creation care.
God commanded us to practice responsible stewardship over the environment. This includes the natural environment as well as the built environment and all creatures that depend on those environments. We need to actively safeguard creation in order for it to flourish and produce in a healthy way.
Being responsible stewards means actively stopping and preventing activities that could cause harm to the environment, as well as actively participating in activities that protect the environment, raising awareness about creation care and repairing damage that has been done to creation.
For those who want to be actively involved in caring for creation, there are many opportunities available!
Most towns have special “clean up” or “recycle – reuse” days – held usually in the spring, and often in conjunction with Earth Day. Volunteer your services for the day or for the project. Ask your mayor, town council or recycling center what you can do to help care for creation.
States also have volunteer opportunities. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (originally called USA Soil Conservation Service) uses volunteers for both short-term and longer-term projects. Opportunities to serve can be found at your State Natural Resources Conservation Service. Other opportunities are available through state-wide organizations such as the E.P.A.
On a national level, the US government provides a myriad of opportunities for short-term and long-term volunteer commitments. Work is in a number of fields including archaeology, back country/wilderness, botany, campground hosts, construction/maintenance, computers, conservation education, fish/wildlife, general assistance, historical preservation, pest and disease Control, minerals/geology, natural resources planning, office/clerical, range/liverstock, research library, science, soil/watershed, timber/fire prevention, trail/campground maintenance, tour guide/interpretation, visitor information, and weed/invasive species control. Some of these jobs provide internships, pay small stipends and some even provide housing or R.V. facilities. Most are located at national parks or reserves. Each job listing indicates what age group/person the job is suitable for and if there are any education requirements. This is a great way to learn about our environment and, in the case of students, get job training for a future profession.
The Government also provides a website which lists other volunteer opportunities provided by groups such the USDA Forest Service, Global Youth Service Day, and Freedom Corps.
Creation care is about more than sitting back and thinking about the environment. It requires action – loving one’s neighbour, loving creation and protecting what God loves, and finds to be inherently ‘good’.