God's Gift, Our Responsibility
OUR ENVIRONMENT is one of the greatest examples we have of God's power. To me, the word "environment" encompasses all of God's most beautiful and awesome works. The environment is His creation, a precious and holy resource that He entrusted all humans with the loving care and wise use of. God asked all humans to be stewards of the environment in Genesis 1:28, when He said to Adam and Eve, "Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
I have not always understood the meaning of this passage, however, and I struggled with the idea that God wanted us to "subdue" the earth and "rule" over all of the living creatures. I thought that He was telling us that we could do anything we wanted to with His creation, without thinking of the consequences. The idea of God giving us a gift, especially such an incredible gift as the earth and all of its creatures, and then allowing us to use our power over it selfishly and carelessly did not seem right to me. When I saw the price the environment is paying today for us to rule over God's creation in this way, I wondered why God had ever said those words to Adam and Eve and given us that kind of power.
As my concern grew for our polluted rivers and oceans, exponentially growing landfills, and shrinking forests and wilderness areas, I thought, Is this the way God planned for us to subdue the earth? Did He really want us to rule over His creation like this? I soon realized that the way we live today is definitely not how God wanted us to live long ago when He gave that important message to Adam and Eve. God was not giving humanity a command to use His creation in any selfish way that we wanted, with no thoughts of the future consequences. He was issuing to us a challenge, a challenge of taking responsibility over His incredible and vast creation, and using it wisely, carefully, and lovingly. God wanted to give us an opportunity to show Him that we could rule over His creation as He rules over us, patiently and tenderly. He was giving us something indescribably beautiful and useful, to see if we could subdue it as servant-rulers, worshiping God and His grace in every way that we used His gift.
We have failed in the face of this challenge. The state of our environment today is not the state God's servants should allow His gift to be in. As a Christian, I am concerned about the environment for many reasons. At the center of my concern lies my belief that we are shunning a responsibility God gave to us, turning away from His challenge, and misusing a precious gift from Him. We are not being stewards of the earth; we are being exploiters of the earth.
Another reason I am concerned about the environment from a Christian standpoint is that the human greed that is destroying God's creation is damaging the lives of others now and in the future. As a Christian, I have a responsibility to care about what happens to all people, not just myself and those that I know. That means that I also have a responsibility to ensure that the world is a place that can sustain all of God's children. The way that many of us live right now, myself included, is not a way of life which measures up to this responsibility. While I try to recycle and compost everything that I can, I still find myself giving in to what is easier and more timely, and not fulfilling to the best of my ability my responsibility as a steward of God's creation. Given the choice, I would much rather drive someplace than take the bus or light rail, because driving is faster and less of a hassle. I know that taking public transportation is better for the environment, but I often succumb to my selfishness and take the quicker, easier route in my car.