As Christians, what should creation mean to us? You know, when you go for a bushwalk, or a holiday along the coast? Maybe you’ve been to the desert and seen enormous natural monoliths or explored caves that seem to descend forever. There really is a lot of natural beauty on this planet, and outside it, and I think that’s because God made it beautiful.
But not all of it is beautiful, and that’s not wholly a cause of how merciless nature can be. It’s because we live in a broken world, one where people are perfectly capable of destroying creation on their own accord. Oceans are full of rubbish, the Amazon is being massacred, even space is littered with debris from rockets.
It doesn’t belong to us
It’s easy to lose sight that, although we were put on this world, it doesn’t belong to us. Psalm 8 describes humanity’s relationship with the Earth:
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honour.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
‘Rulers over the works of your hands’. The Bible says that God has put us in charge of caring for the world, with every animal under our feet. But it doesn’t say that the Earth belongs to us, these works were made by God’s hands.
Are we doing more harm than good?
Of course, we need to address what this means in a time when we may very well be doing more harm to the earth than care. In Genesis, God puts Adam in the garden so that he can work and tend to the land and animals (Genesis chapter 2 verse 15). It could be argued that this was true of humanity before sin, and therefore our chief purpose is no longer to care for the environment, so why bother?
I think the story of Eden represents many things, but I don’t think a careless attitude toward the Earth is one of them. Think about the symbolism of man being created from dust on the earth, this seems pretty significant, as if by God’s will humanity was created by the very planet that continues to sustain our existence.
Now, one could take an Ecclesiastical viewpoint that the ‘everything is futile’ so why bother taking care of a dying planet when Christians should have more pressing matters to address. And if one wanted to be really cynical about it, they could argue that the Bible actually says Satan is the king of this world (2 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 4), and neither God nor man, so if the world belongs to Satan then why bother taking care of it?
Continue to care
However, there are arguments against both these points. In regards to Ecclesiastes’ solemn worldview, remember that this book is the wisdom of Solomon and doesn’t actually have any direct commands from God, while other books do. As for Satan being ‘god of this world’, Christians believe that God still keeps him in check, and he cannot do what God does not allow. This is illustrated in the book of Job.
Therefore, if everything is not futile, and if the earth was meant to be God’s good creation, shouldn’t we be taking care of it? How can that be a bad thing? People may very well have things going on in their lives that are more important, but man was created for the Earth, and we should continue to take care of God’s creation.
Jackson Reid is a journalism student currently studying at University of Wollongong in Australia. He has been working casually at Pulse 94.1, a Christian radio station, for the last 5 years. He is particularly passionate about youth and kids ministry at church.