Creation Care: Why should we care?
This is a different kind of commentary this week. The reason for this is that no matter how I looked at the subject I had no illustration to ponder and expand on the lesson. The title of our quarterly lesson is "glimpses of God." So, each week we are to ask ourselves: what glimpse of God can the subject in question give us? So, what glimpse of God does Creation Care gives to us? Our lesson is not really about how God cares for Creation, but about how we should care for it. In the past lessons we have established that Creation reveals God in many different ways and at many different levels. We know that God sustains His creation. God cares. And, man is included in what God cares. This is evident in Matthew 6:27 – 30.
Mat 6: 27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
Mat 6: 28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
Mat 6: 29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Mat 6: 30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith??
God provides all for all of these. The Birds have an expanse to fly and trees to dwell in. The expanse is full of air from with trees, animals and man can breathe from. The trees release waste that animals and man can use, and animals and man release waste that trees can use. God has created an interdependent circle of beneficence. All are suppose to take to give.
However, although man participates somewhat in the eco-system cycle, man breaks away from it, in other ways. Man's selfishness is evidenced by how they make choices that directly or indirectly aversely affects nature. What Ellen White says about man contrasted with nature is disturbing but true: "There is nothing, save the selfish heart of man, that lives unto itself" (Desire of the Ages, p. 20). Almost everything in nature takes to give.
There is an elite group on Earth that has built for themselves plush mansion in large extension of landscape fields. For this they have destroyed the ecosystem of the place where they built, without any concerns for it. This comes at a cost to those who work for them in adverse conditions for virtually pennies. It goes without saying that the living conditions of these workers are very deprived.
In the meantime there are those who are concerned with the relentless destruction and abuse – the environmentally concerned green crowd. They maintain that the world cannot sustain itself if these elite continue with their practices. They offer alternatives that will help preserve the world longer: recycling, carpooling, electric cars, etc. What this environmentally concerned group does not know is that underlying the environmental troubles we face today is a spiritual problem which cannot be solved merely by recycling plastic bottles or using cloth shopping bags; good though these things may be.
The reason our planet is in trouble today is because mankind has lived against the law of agape, or self-giving love. All creatures, plants, flowers, and trees live to give. As established Man alone lives to get without giving back. We are reaping the consequences of a 6,000-year experiment in self-centered living. Even unbelievers recognize this way of living is unsustainable. The only thing that will solve the problem is the redemption of man's heart at the feet of the Cross.
Where should Christians stand? That is the question that the lesson asks. 2 Peter 3:7 says that "… the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." Do we join the destroyers since the World will be destroyed anyway? Or do we join the preservers knowing that there work will in the long run be in vain? On the one hand we know that the earth is cursed, why would we want to preserve a curse? On the other hand, should we let the curse have its way with others, if we can relieve their suffering?
If any life, human or otherwise, exists is because of the grace of God, namely, Christ's redemption at the cross. Then our responsibility is those for whom Christ died, and relieving suffering is part of that.
When the earth is devastated by poor environmental practices, the result is human and animal misery. How can we expect people to hear the Gospel of Christ's cross when so much of the world population is challenged with the simple business of subsisting. To the extent it is within our power, are we entitled to deny any responsibility to "keep" the earth so that people are not so distracted with survival they cannot hear the Gospel? We are to relieve the suffering of those who are afflicted. We are to be good managers of the earth which God has entrusted to us. It is the pure truth of the gospel, however, which brings the ultimate "rest" from sin which human souls so desperately need.
The world believes in survival of the fittest so if an animal's habitat is destroyed, too bad for it. It is true that humans remain most important, but Christians must show the world a different standard. The example that Christ gave while on earth is useful. He consistently focused on bringing people to an understanding of the Gospel. He never became involved in human causes but He did live a simple life. In modern times we would say He left a very small "carbon footprint." His focus remained on the people He came to save and He went around relieving suffering. The fact that the earth will be destroyed and remade cannot be an excuse to increase suffering by careless practices.
Caring for God's creation includes everything from lobsters to rare plants and animals about to become extinct, the earth itself and yes, even people. All are part of God's creation that suffers under the curse of sin. We need to tell the world that because of the Cross, "there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it …" (Rev. 22:3). So, let us remember what Christ told the sheep on right in the judgment, "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25: 40).