Walking Our Faith: Why people of God care about the environment
“You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” — Nehemiah 9:6
My desk, which is also my dining room table, is pushed against a large window in my living room. When I’m sitting at my computer, I can look out this window at the mountains and it is often staring at these mountains that I find my inspiration both in writing and in prayer.
It’s easy to be inspired by the view because I also look out at woodlands and wetlands and mountain tops that tell me before any weather station about the first signs of the changing seasons. I am lucky, or should I say blessed, to have this view because it has not yet been developed and looks as it might have looked 100 years ago or more.
And when I step outside for all the clear winter’s night, I can clearly see a sky filled with stars undiminished by lights found in a densely built downtown.
Surrounded by all this natural beauty I am reminded that when God created man and woman and gave them dominion over the earth part of that responsibility was the stewardship and care of not only the creatures of the earth but the land on which they live.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'” — Genesis 1:26
Years ago, we took “dominion” to mean that we had free rein to develop the land to suit our purposes, whether it be to make a profit or to feed our population. The consequences of our choices were not given a great deal of thought.
In recent years, we have discovered that how we treat the land is very similar to the consequences of how we treat one another. If we employ someone but maximize corporate profit over affordable housing and medical care, it is unlikely that the employee will produce good work. So too, if we overburden the land to maximize profit without consideration for our impact on its sustainability, it too will soon fail.
BioLogos, an organization that looks at science through a Christian-focused lens, addresses this issue directly, and acknowledges both the depth of the issue and our divine mandate to address it.
“Climate change is a ‘threat multiplier.’ It will make lots of bad problems worse — refugee crises, hunger, disease, poverty, biodiversity loss, deforestation, air pollution, and scarcity of resources,” states the organization in an article titled “Why should Christians care for creation?“
To follow God’s command that we love our neighbor as our self, means caring not only for our local environment but considering how our environmental choices impact the lives of neighbors who live thousands of miles away and depend on water from our rivers.
Or our local neighbors who provide desperately needed services but can no longer find affordable housing because newly deforested land is developed with an eye to maximize profit rather than nurturing a true community where service providers can afford to live, as well.
Caring about the environment should not be a political issue of one side against the other. We share this planet and the limited resources that are available to sustain us.
Being good stewards of the environment is most certainly an issue of faith. We cannot honor God at the same time we show single-minded development of his good creation without care for the environment or our neighbor.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” — Psalm 24:1.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at email@example.com.
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