In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. – Job 12:10
Today is Earth Day. It is celebrated on April 22nd every year. On Earth Day, people in more than 192 countries demonstrate support for environmental protection. On the same day, many environmentalists might start the ever hot debate on how life originated on Earth, is it through Darwin’s Evolution Theory or created by a supreme creator. We are not planning to take part in that hot discussion but rather consider what message this Earth Day brings to all the Christians on this earth. Let us ponder on some Earth Day christian thoughts now.
Creation itself inspires us and calls us to care. Many people have had their most profound spiritual experience in nature. As we behold the power and love of God in a mountain range, a sunset, or in the timelessness of the ocean, we can’t help but be moved. But creation also includes humans – our families, communities, and created landscapes. God created all things of Heaven and Earth and God is our inspiration to care for both wild places and our own cities and backyards.
Psalm 24 states that “The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” Humans simply hold the Earth in trust for God. We are tenants here, called to care for the creation on behalf of future generations and all species. The Bible calls us to “till and keep the garden” and names human beings as the trustees of creation. Because God created all the Earth and all of us, creation is beautiful and good and sacred. We are called by our devotion to God and our love for God’s works to protect it.
At the heart of sustainability is the goal of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In a world of finite resources, those among us who have more than enough must address patterns of consumption so that we can provide for all. Acquiring more “stuff” has a direct effect on the sustainability of the planet and on the quality of life for people around the globe. The good news is that more and more people are realizing that spiritual emptiness can’t be filled by consumption. What makes us happy is intimacy – intimacy with self, with others, and with God. In the end, sustainability means seeing ourselves and our neighbors as children of God, not as consumers or competitors for Earth’s resources.
Justice means that in addition to providing aid to our neighbors, we are called to change societal systems that cause poverty, injustice, and environmental damage in the first place. It goes beyond helping to meet physical needs to creating a society with laws and policies that allow the needs of all Earth’s inhabitants to be met. Care and responsibility for the “least of these among us” is a central tenant of Christianity and has a direct connection to environment issues. The impact of environmental degradation falls most heavily on the people around the world who are least able to mitigate these impacts — poor and vulnerable populations. It also disproportionately affects fragile plants, animals and ecosystems. Working for justice calls us to channel our faith into power, to call for social and environmental justice at the local, state and national level.
Thoughts for Christians on this Earth Day
If you have been accustomed to scoffing at Earth Day or merely passing it off as a humanist holiday, perhaps this year you could consider making it a time for asking if there might indeed be many ways in which followers of Christ could “integrate new insights and revise positions” about caring for the earth that we acknowledge “is the Lord’s” and not ours to do with as we please and regardless of the collective damage we may be doing to it. Could we indeed be “muddying water” and “trampling pastures” that others have as much right to as we? Its time to think and act!