The Environment and The Christian: Part 2

Last week we looked at the creation story in Genesis and explored the foundation God laid regarding our responsibility towards the environment. If you haven’t read last week’s article, I suggest you do so before beginning today. You can find it here.

What Would Jesus Say About the Environment?

Jesus came to Earth in order to live a perfect life and die an undeserved death. Not only that, but he rose from the dead. Because of this supernatural act, the curse caused by our rebellion is being undone. Mankind’s relationship with God is being restored and the earth is being renewed. One day this restoration process will be complete and creation will be made fully new and we will dwell in peace on earth with God, plants, animals, and each other forever.[1] Notice, God’s love for the earth will lead him to restore it, not destroy it.

Last week I introduced you to the Dominion Mandate,[2] which is a fancy title for the instruction God gave mankind to care for the earth in Genesis. In the New Testament, this mandate is further clarified as we are given the role to represent Jesus on Earth.[3] Before ascending to heaven, Jesus left his disciples with this commandment:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”[4]

As God’s people, our task is to make disciples of Jesus. However, I’d like to emphasize that this role does not preclude our original responsibility. We are still made to be God’s image. We are still his representatives on earth. We are still responsible to rule over his creation. God loves the earth. God has plans for the earth. Therefore, faithful adherence to our “spiritual calling” does not mean neglecting our “physical calling.” We have been called to care for both the physical and the spiritual.

We may recognize that we will be held accountable for what we do with the gospel, but how many of us also realize that we will be held accountable for what we do with the earth? In Revelation 11, we see a futuristic picture of Jesus establishing his eternal kingdom. There the 24 elders describe what Jesus will do as he restores the earth:

“The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
both great and small—
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

“The time has come for…destroying those who destroy the earth.” That is a verse I’ve never heard a sermon on. How did the prophecy conferences and end-times movies miss that one? When Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead he will “destroy those who destroy the earth.”

Apparently, The Great Commission did not nullify The Dominion Mandate. Jesus holds humans liable for the assignment given to them in Genesis.

What should I do?

Throughout the Biblical story there is a consistent theme of human responsibility towards the earth that literally runs from Genesis to Revelation. In his letter to the Roman church the Apostle Paul writes:

“For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed.”[5]

The creation is waiting for the day when God’s people are fully restored. In the same way that our image was marred, the image of creation was marred. Therefore, the plant and animal life that you see is just a shadow of what it would look like in the presence of the Creator. The earth knows that our redemptions are not separate acts, but one in the same, and we will be redeemed alongside the earth and all that exists here. According to the voice of scripture, we are deeply connected with nature.

So how should we respond to this?

  1. Recognize that you are responsible to care for the earth. The scriptures make it clear that we have been called to rule over the earth in a way that reflects the One who lovingly created it. Our responsibility to care for creation must be considered an indispensible Christian doctrine.
  2. Cultivate a loving relationship with the earth.[6] The earth was created for God’s pleasure, and subsequently our pleasure. If you do not posses love for creation, you must first learn to enjoy and appreciate it. This requires you to spend intentional time with creation, asking God to help you along the way.
  3. Act on behalf of the earth. The planet is being systematically destroyed. The rain forests are being ravaged and the oceans are dying. Animals are being brutalized and the atmosphere is being poisoned. The vast majority of this destruction is preventable, and some of it is reversible. We can’t fix everything, as God will ultimately do that. But we will be held accountable for what we don’t do.

In closing, I hope you can look past the politics, stigmas, and cultural ties that surround environmentalism. Please don’t let your loyalty to a political party causes you to neglect your responsibility towards the earth. And please don’t let your fear of being aligned with a certain people group allow you to miss out on doing what you were created to do. Caring for the earth is a human issue. Protecting the environment is a Christian issue.

[1] Isaiah 11, 55; Revelation 21

[2] After making mankind in his image, God gave the first humans responsibilities as his representatives on earth. This instruction is known as the Dominion Mandate: “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

[3] Whether the Dominion Mandate and Great Commission are seen as separate instructions or a continuation of the same instructions makes no practical difference.

[4] Matthew 28:19-20

[5] Romans 8:19, HCSB

[6] Every person already has a relationship with the earth, but for many people it is a negative relationship.

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