Question #5
?As believers, what is our role when it comes to taking care of the planet, creation, in light of God renewing all of creation?

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I?m so glad some one asked this question! I?m known as the “green guy” around the church office. I?ve been known to pull recyclables out of the garbage from time to time. I believe there are clear Biblical reasons to take care of the earth. Here are some of my reasons why.

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1 – It?s God?s creation. Genesis introduces us to God as the creator. Viewing all the earth as God?s creation is the starting point. Colossians 1:16 says this “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.” The earth (and everything in it) is ultimately God?s creation. As such, it has value in and of itself, not just as a means to an end. Nature has value because God created it. Humans are placed in a somewhat different category because we are the only part of God?s creation that bears his image.

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2 – We have a responsibility. Some argue that God has given mankind the right to rule over creation and as such it is our right to use it however we want no matter what the consequences. A quick read of Genesis 1:26-28 shows us that God did indeed entrust mankind with the power to rule over creation. BUT, I would argue that the example of authority that we see from God in scripture is one of service and love, not selfish exploitation (Jesus washing his disciples feet comes to mind).

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3 – The principle of stewardship. Understanding the Biblical principle of stewardship is essential here. Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord?s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” God has entrusted us with authority over his creation, but it?s still his! The principle of stewardship teaches us that everything belongs to God (the earth, our lives, our finances) and we are just managing it temporarily. Because it?s not ours, we need to be careful to manage it properly. In Leviticus 25:23 God says to the Israelites, “?The Land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.?”

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4 – It?s about loving others. Our decisions affect others. When we choose to pollute the environment or not to recycle some one else pays the consequences…often those less fortunate than us. The clearest example that comes to mind is poor farming practices. Run off from farm fields pollute water sources. Not a huge deal for those who can afford water purification, but those who can?t will suffer. Our decisions affect others. Philippians 2:4-8 talks about us not looking only to our interests, but also to the interests of others. We have a responsibility to view our decisions through the lens of loving others.

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All this being said, we need to understand that creation care is important, but not our primary goal as a church. Ultimately the church of Jesus Christ is about bringing people into a relationship with God. I strongly believe that we can and should take care of the earth, but ultimately it?s only temporary…it will perish when God creates a new heaven and a new earth, but souls will live forever.

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Here is a link to an article with some simple suggestions on how we can better care for the earth. http://bible.org/article/create-me-green-heart I?d love to hear some of your suggestions in this area. Feel free to leave a comment ;)

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Grace,
?Chris