Earth Day has been celebrated since 1970. Some Christians I’ve heard scoff at this day as “pagan worship” of Mother Earth or whatever. That’s too bad. I think this day is an opportunity for Christians to model the second commandment: “love your neighbor as yourself.” How can Earth Day model this second commandment, you ask? By caring for Creation we indirectly love our neighbor.
Notice, however, that the commandment to love our neighbor is rooted in loving ourselves. The best way a Christian can love themselves is by cultivating a relationship with Jesus Christ – love God – the first commandment. We need to be spiritually healthy. We also need to be physically healthy. Without good health, it’s hard to function in others areas of our lives. So, spiritual health and physical health contribute to how we love.
Our surroundings matter, too. Consider your living circumstances. You want to live in a healthy environment, right? Imagine living in a house full of air that you could barely breathe, trash lying all over the floor, bathrooms growing living bacterial fungi that is frankly frightening to even look at…. that’s not loving yourself. And it’s certainly nothing you’d wish on a neighbor.
Now imagine this kind of living situation outside of your home… consider the cities of our planet. The world’s most polluted cities are based in China. Overpopulation and mismanagement of resources have contributed to the environmental crisis. This affects people’s health. Chinese people began wearing masks long before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. They wore masks because of air pollution and widespread germs.
China is a communist country. Under this worldview, the command to be good stewards of the Earth, found in the opening chapters of Genesis, is obviously not followed. Stewarding the planet’s resources well trickles down to the wellbeing of its inhabitants.
One of the most loving things we can do for humanity is to be good stewards of Earth’s resources — to be good caretakers of God’s creation. Yet we often build in areas that habitually flood, resulting in mudslides; we strip the land of natural resources that could prevent disaster. Mangrove trees, for example, were cut down in certain coastal areas of Haiti resulting in little natural protection from devastating hurricanes. Our mismanagement of natural resources often becomes so bad that the landscape cannot bounce back; things begin to collapse. We over-build and over populate certain areas, depleting natural resources to our own demise. It’s bad management of what God gave us – all the resources we need.
Sadly, I’ve heard some Christians say, “It’s all gonna burn anyway.” That’s a selfish thing to claim. True, God has plans that include a new heaven and a new Earth; in the meantime, the Earth, and all that is in it, is God’s (Ps. 24:1). For that reason alone, we should steward it well.
Now I realize that some people go too far and make caring for the Earth some weird-worship thing. That’s not what I am talking about here. I am simply stating that because of our inherent sinfulness, we’ve often exploited natural resources. We need to be better stewards.
There is hope! Efforts are being made by Christians to fulfill the mandate that God gave us in Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion… (over living things).” Dominion doesn’t mean “exploitation.” It means to care for the Earth well, using the resources in a manner worthy of the One who entrusted us with it.
Not only are we to care for the land and resources well, but in Proverbs 12:10, God also encourages us to treat animals and other creatures compassionately. We have not done this. Today, there is a mass extinction rate of all kinds of species happening globally.
In Revelation 11:18, God’s wrath comes down hard on “the destroyers of the Earth.” This is a warning – will we heed it?In Revelation 11:18, God’s wrath comes down hard on “the destroyers of the Earth.” This is a warning - will we heed it? Click To Tweet
On Earth Day, as Christians, let’s join with others who see the need to care for our planet. We can find common ground and perhaps use this opportunity to share our faith with non-believers.
If you want to get involved in caring for Creation, to love your neighbor well, here are a few organizations that are involved in caring for creation:
Evangelical Environmental Network is such an organization. They promote stewardship over the Earth and advocate for environmental policies that honor God’s dictate that we “tend the garden.”
Plant with a Purpose is helping the poor learn how to create sustainable agriculture.
National Religious Partnership for the Environment is not strictly a Christian organization, but seeks to bring together an alliance of faiths to work towards the goal of stewarding God’s earth.
Taking good care of the natural resources is a commandment from God, and is another way of loving your neighbor as yourself. Christians should be leading the environmental movement.
Psalm 24:1 – A Psalm of David
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it.”