Today I want to celebrate Earth Day by sharing just a bit about why I, as a Christian, care about the environment and choose to put time, money and effort towards practicing mindful stewardship of God's glorious creation.
Here are some of the main reasons that our family has made environmental stewardship a priority as we seek to honor the Lord in all that we do:
1. The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it (Ps 24:1)
Although we have graciously been given this earth to live in and have dominion over, it is not ours. It is His.
When I live and act in a way that shows disregard to that which God has created, I am not honoring Him. It would be unthinkable to be invited to Buckingham Palace to dine with the Queen, and leave a trail of rubbish in my wake. Dirty tissues on the bathroom counter, muddy footprints in the entry, garbage from my purse on the coffee table. We wouldn't dare.
Yet, we think nothing of weekly tossing bulging bags of trash into landfills that dot the countryside and mountains. We use products that seep toxic chemical waste into His pristine rivers, lakes and oceans. Why is it any different?
I love this Abraham Kuyper quote:
"There is not a square inch
in the whole domain of our human existence
over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all,
does not cry: 'Mine!'"
When we begin to view the earth as one of the domains over which Christ sovereignly declares "Mine!", it becomes much harder to ignore the effects of our (often thoughtless) everyday actions, doesn't it?
2. Dominion should not equal destruction.
“Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry around the ground.” Genesis 1:28
Multiply. Fill. Govern. Reign.
We have been entrusted with a high and sacred calling to govern over the earth and all that is in it. What a responsibility!
Sadly, we have taken this dominion mandate and used it as justification to do, well, whatever we want. In order to satiate the appetite of our society to have more and have it cheaper and faster, we greedily use up precious natural resources, fill the air, water and soil with dangerous toxic chemicals, raise animals in cruel and harmful ways, consume and then toss our "stuff" into landfills where it will sit for hundreds of years (or longer)...
The word "dominion" means to exercise control. I firmly believe that this earth and its resources have been given to us to have authority over and to use for the benefit of the human race. But rather than taking this as permission to do as we like, we ought to view this authority as a great privilege.
The longer I study natural living, nutrition, the human body, gardening and how things grow... the more in awe I am of our indescribably kind and intelligent Creator. He has given us the most intricate, beautiful world that I could ever imagine.
In my own life, beginning to understand and appreciate His creation has spurred on a much deeper love and respect for God himself. I increasingly long to be more mindful with all that He has graciously given me to steward, and this earth is one of those things.
3. We have a multi-generational vision.
Not one of us knows when the Lord will return. It could be tomorrow. It could be 800 years from now.
I long for Christ to return. Yet should he tarry, what will be left for future generations?
As a family, we have a vision for raising up godly offspring that will serve the Lord and will who will in turn raise up more godly men and women to continue serving the Lord for as long as we should remain on this earth.
I want my children and grandchildren and grandchildren's children to have an earth that is still inhabitable. One where they can enjoy the good health, bountiful food and the wonders of creation.
This is possible, but it requires something of our generation. To think beyond ourselves. To consider what will remain and endure past our lifetimes. What legacy will we leave for our children and all the generations to follow?
"In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."
I celebrate Earth Day, not just because I am some hippie, tree-hugger who wants to save the whales. Indeed, I do want to save the trees and the whales and the rivers and the icecaps and the rainforests and the topsoil.
But not just for the sake of saving them, and not just for the sake of humankind. I want to save them because they are an expression of my glorious God and an important part of His loving provision for His people.
Is this the most important thing for me to focus on as a Christian? No, not at all. There are so many other critically important parts of the Christian life, but that doesn't detract from the fact that this aspect of life is also important and worthy of our thought and effort.
If I am to eat, drink and do all that I do to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), then it only follows that my lifestyle and actions should also have the goal of bringing glory to God in the ways that they impact His creation.
How important is it to you that you are carefully stewarding the environment? Why do you feel that way?
I'm trying to learn how to be responsible without being pushy and annoying, and I really wrote this blog for my own benefit and not to make anyone who reads it mad at me. :)
However, there are some things that I've decided are worth my extra effort, so I will continue to:
- take home my empty water bottle so I can recycle it, or use a Nalgene
- shred anything with personal information on it, and then recycle it
- sort through every piece of junk mail and separate the recyclables
- re-use tissue paper and gift bags (I will even admit to having ironed tissue paper before)
- return the unused napkins and ketchup/sauce packets at fast food restaurants
- open all curtains and blinds first thing in the morning and leave them open for as long as possible before turning on a light
- turn off lights and unplug unused electrical things at home
- turn things off in public spaces (like lights in church classrooms) when they're not being used
- eat leftovers and the last bites in a dish instead of throwing them away
- dig through my trash after you have left my house and thrown away something recyclable
- save things that others [read: my husband] think I should probably throw away, just so I don't have to buy them again later
- look for ways to properly dispose of things like old batteries
- drive 55 mph when I can and watch my mileage
- turn off my car at Sonic, the bank and pharmacy drive-thrus, and railroad crossings
- use cloth shopping bags and return the plastic ones
- buy in bulk and make my own portion sizes instead of buying single-serve packages