In the Bible
Jesus Christ’s Relationship to All of Creation: Creator, Sustainer, Reconciler, Consummator, True Image of God, Heir of All Things, Lord.
Creation is a sacred trust having been created through and for Christ. (All scriptures are from the New International Version of Scripture.)
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together…For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Col. 1:15-20)
Creation Declares the Glory of God
The entire creation is valuable as a revelation of God’s invisible nature.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. ”(Ps 19:1-4)
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse…” (Rom 1: 20-23)
The Earth Is the Lord’s
The entire creation ultimately belongs to God and not to us.
“To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.” (Deut 10:14)
God Lovingly Provides for His Creation
God values the entire creation and seeks to care for it.
“God makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for humans to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart. The trees of the LORD are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted…” (Ps 104: 10-30)
“Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.” (Exod 23:12)
Humans Serve as Stewards of the Creation
Humans have a divine responsibility to care for God’s creation on His behalf.
“The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food…The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it…. Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.” (Gen 2:7-9a, 15, 19-20a)
The Relationship Between Environmental Problems and Christian Love and Justice
Environmental problems like pollution of the air and water, loss of entire species, and the warming of the earth’s climate, harm people, especially the most vulnerable among us. Air pollution harms the urban poor; the loss or scarcity of entire species hurts those who depend on them; flooding in coastal regions threatens the poor who live there. Since the problems are global in scale, we may not be as adversely affected as those in other parts of the world, especially the less fortunate. But Christ’s love compels us to be concerned for our neighbor’s well being.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness…” (Phil 2:4-8)
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me…’” (Matt 25:34-45)
Also see Ps 72:1, 12-14a; Mic 6:1-4, 7-8; Luke 6:31; 1Jn 4:7-8;
John 13:34; Luke 4:18-19; 2Cor 5: 14-21; Col 1:20; Jer 22:3; Matt 22:37-40.
We Will Answer to God for Our Care of Creation
Our individual and corporate actions can lead to harming God’s creation. We are accountable to God for these actions.
“The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” (Rev 11:18)
God’s Future Kingdom: A New Creation
Our destiny is not to be separated from the earth in a disembodied, purely spiritual existence, but to live in a renewed and redeemed creation. In the Bible, life begins in a garden and culminates in a garden city. In the same way that we are to care for our mortal bodies because they are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are to care for the earth, because it is to become the dwelling place of God.
“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy…Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” (Isa 35:1-2)
“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more…They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands…The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the
LORD.” (Isa 65:17-23)
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