(I wrote this blog on Earth Day 2008…eleven years ago.
Hard to believe. Not much has changed.)
Today is Earth Day, 2008.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this idea of “protecting” and “taking care of” the earth. I have heard the phrase “going green” ad nauseam. Every other commercial reminds us how rotten we are as humans if we don’t “reduce, reuse, recycle.” If you take all of the talk too seriously, you start feeling guilty for using a paper towel instead of a cloth napkin…for using a paper grocery bag instead of a “re-usable” grocery bag…for throwing a banana peel in the trash instead of putting in your own personal composter.
Bad things? No. Obsess much? Maybe a little.
So I wonder: How are we, as Christ-followers, supposed to respond to this? How “green” should we go? To what degree are we to “take care of the earth”? Where do we draw the line between worshipping the creation, rather than the Creator.
Scripture tells us these things:
“God claims Earth, and everything in it, God claims World and all who live on it.” Psalm 24:1 (The Message)
“…God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see…Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:16-17
We didn’t create the earth – God did. We don’t preserve the earth – God does. But listen to this:
This world we are living in is passing away. This earth was never meant to be eternal. We should expect it to deteriorate.
“That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.” Romans 8:18-21
And did you know that Jesus never gave any command that had anything to do with taking care of the earth? Just FYI.
The earth has two purposes: God made it for us – us humans to enjoy and work and live off of. He also made it for himself – to reveal Himself to us. (See Psalm 19:1-4) In 345 A.D., St. Augustine wrote, “Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead he set before your eyes the things that he had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?”
So again, what is our role as Christians? I do believe that we need to do whatever we can to help keep the earth healthy, because it is God’s creation. But we have to remember that God, ultimately, is in control – not me. My faith and future firmly rests in Him. And He isn’t surprised by what is happening in our world.
Well, here’s what I’m going to do (and lots of these things, David and I already do and have done for a long time)…
• I’m not going to buy into the environmental religion and make it my “little-g” god. But neither am I going to respond to it with apathy or anger (even after I’ve heard the latest “environment evangelist” selling his/her wares within earshot.)
• I will reduce – I’m going to try to use less plastic drink bottles, paper products, etc.
• I will reuse – wherever I can. I, however, am NOT going to reuse ziploc bags or aluminum foil, nor wash paper plates.
• I will recycle – to the extent that wise time management will allow. I might even buy a couple of recycle bins to put on my back patio to help out in this area.
• I will buy organic. I’m not a nut when it comes to organic, but I will buy organic when I can afford it and find it. Being in Cortez, we don’t have a huge variety except at WalMart and our two grocery stores. (Oh, how I wish we had a Whole Foods Market!!!) I love it when the farmer’s market starts up in the summer and I try to gather all the fresh produce I can from those vendors. There’s really nothing better than locally grown food.
• Replacing my regular light bulbs with fluorescent? Not so sure about this one. I personally don’t care for the light coming from these bulbs, especially in my home. Also, the details I’ve heard about how difficult it is to “legally” dispose of them bothers me. So, we’ll have to wait and see. I will, however, be sure I conserve energy by turning lights off in rooms in which I am not.
• And above all else, I have decided to honor Father God, rather than Mother Earth. “She” has no control over me… and vice versa.
So, as I’ve heard from wise counsel in my life, “Do what you can…with what you have…where you are.” Take care of what God has entrusted you with. Don’t over-extend, over-consume, over-complicate, over-indulge. Practice balance in all things, including “taking care of the earth.”
And finally: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…” Revelation 21:1