It’s calving season on our farm, and the other day at dusk the last heifer gave birth. We watch the attentive bovine mama nudge her baby to a far corner of the pasture several times throughout the day. Safely hiding, the calf dozes on and off in the warm spring sun. It’s a snapshot of creation here on our farm. I am all about enjoying and frolicking in creation. When it comes to creation stewardship, well, that’s a different story. Suddenly, I become detached and ignore the biblical directive to care for creation.
Why are Christians so often reluctant environmentalist? We believe that protecting the environment is overall a noble and necessary endeavor. When it comes to environmental issues, a deep bipartisan chasm divides Americans. Christians leave the “going green” to the Democrats while settling into comfortable, ecological passivism and paralysis.
It’s almost taboo to be an environmentally minded Christian for fear of being labeled “an evangelical earthy-crunchy type,” or “Christian Boho babe,” or “a godly granola girl.”
On any given Sunday, churches bulletins feature programs that equip congregants to be better stewards of their time and money. In all the years of church attendance, I don’t ever recall hearing about a program that encourages and equips evangelicals to steward creation.
It Would Be Great If Christians Viewed the Stewardship of Creation as a Way to Worship and Serve the Creator
Every time I gaze across our pasture at the setting sun, that breathtaking bucolic scene reflects God like a mirror. Even though we live in a fallen world, every time a mockingbird sings its pre-dawn chorus or I pluck the lemon-yellow daffodils from the edge of our field, they reveal the beginning of the gospel love story. Knowing that His creation reflects his image and displays his glory should propel believers to care for the world that God made.Knowing that His creation reflects his image and displays his glory should propel believers to care for the world that God made. Click To Tweet
As a word of caution, our environmental efforts, creation care, green awakening, however we choose to wordsmith our going green efforts, must remain within the context of the gospel. Kathleen Nielson, an author, speaker, and senior adviser and book editor for The Gospel Coalition expresses the importance of the centrality of the gospel as we go forth in our environmental initiatives:
“The biblical gospel, with Jesus Christ at the center, must be at the heart of everything we do—even at the heart of our loving care for the world God made and gave to us to fill and subdue and work until Christ comes again. There are indeed young people who believe the biblical gospel and who aim to offer their environmental efforts as one of the many ways they serve the Creator God as his redeemed sons and daughters, all for Christ’s glory and for the advancement of his kingdom. As we communicate this gospel perspective to the next generation, may we communicate it clearly and biblically.”
How to Practice Creation Stewardship From a Biblical Perspective:
Recognize that God created to display his glory
That alone should make us fall to our knees with gratitude. To fully comprehend that God created to display his glory, his eternal power, and divine nature is clearly seen, being understood from what has been made then all believers should find every possible way to care and nurture His creation masterpiece.
Clergyman and theologian Jonathan Edwards suggests, “What God aimed at in the creation of the world, as the end which he had ultimately in view, was that communication of himself which he intended through all eternity.” God created so that he could reveal himself and his character.
Love and gratitude should compel Christians to be intentional about caring for His world.
Indeed, Jesus will come and restore the world. Until then, Christians can’t sit back and take on the role of consumptive consumer. God bequeathed his creations to us; in return, we must mindfully steward and govern over everything on earth.
Worship God as Creator
Notice I wrote worship God as Creator NOT worship creation. For believers, each new day is like the curtain going up at the start of a long-awaited performance. The staggering reality is the creation curtain goes up every single day for us.
Acknowledging God as the creator of everything should incite Christians to live as responsible stewards of creation. We bear the responsibility of how we use creation.
With such a gift at our disposal, we should not find it bothersome to tote our travel cup rather than consume an insurmountable quantity of disposable cups.
Serve God the Creator
Serving God as the Creator transforms our excessive consumptive behaviors into ones that sustain and restore for God’s glory. We can offer our environmental efforts as a way to advance his kingdom. There is a gospel opportunity every time we participate in activities that promote an organic lifestyle, support local farmers, restore waterways through the building and nurturing of relationships.
What Does a Biblical Environmental Movement Mean?
We view the movement through the lens of the gospel. We recognize that God created to display his glory, we worship God as Creator and serve God as the Creator, all of which should unite Christians rather than polarize us. In the case of governing and reigning over creation, it’s a command to all Christians not just the “environmentally minded” ones.
A Biblical Environmental Movement should traverse our sanctuaries. The movement could include the middle-aged hippie doused in patchouli and the millennial whose only connection to a garden is virtual. Evangelicals that occupy space in a pew possess guardianship over creation. It’s time to do more than acknowledge and appreciate nature.
I can view our newborn calf and the crops that we grow as a way to know God and make Him known. With the privilege of witnessing such Divine artistry comes responsibility as a curate of creation. As long as our environmental undertakings keep the Gospel as the focus, then we can hug every tree and go green without pause.
Simple Ways to Get Started:
- Bring a travel cup everywhere you go or keep one in the car
- Switch from styrofoam coffee cups at your church to recyclable cups
- Create a food pantry at your church with unwanted canned goods and non-perishables. Don’t throw away food.
- Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose everything
- Plant native trees in your yard
- Grow some of your food
- Purchase what you can’t grow from a Farmer’s Market
- Join a Community Support Agriculture (CSA)
- Bring your bags to the supermarket. If you don’t have any ask for paper bags (they have them).
- Become a locavore
- Buy chemical-free personal care products
- Use recyclable wraps and ditch the plastic
- Hang your clothes out to dry on nice days
What do you currently do to steward creation?