As Christians we believe the Earth is a creation of God, a precious gift on which we depend for the necessities of life. The beauty and complexity of nature speak clearly of God’s presence and power and have spiritual value.
Yet things are not as they should be: the temperature of our planet is rising, the atmosphere is polluted, acid rain poisons lakes and streams around the world, even the oceans. Thousands of species are going extinct. We are only just starting to understand the complicated webs of life on Earth, yet everywhere we look they are falling apart. Moreover, we are losing safe drinking water and fertile soil for growing food.
Although everyone on earth will eventually be affected, the world’s poor will suffer the most. The recent increase in “extreme weather events” such as hurricanes and droughts are thought to be the first effects of global climate change.
When global temperatures increase, the result is not just warmer weather. Polar ice caps melt and raise sea levels, flooding coastal areas; while inland climates become drier, creating deserts. People become displaced as fertile land is lost. Wars break out over scarce natural resources. Hunger, starvation, and disease grow worse.
Some of those scenarios are already happening in places where the poor have nowhere to go and nothing to fall back on. How we treat the environment is, in many ways, how we treat other people. Do we love our neighbors by polluting the world we all share?
Do we love and honor God by polluting God’s creation? After creating each part of the world in Genesis, God declared it good. God, whom we worship, who made the amazing complexity of the universe, looked on each of these things and called them good. Who are we to trample on this and exploit it for our own short-term gain?
Sometimes we overlook the proper care of the Earth, thinking that there are more important issues. And there are, but perhaps we have ignored our role as God-appointed caretakers of creation for too long. It is an important issue as well—an issue of respecting God and each other, and of justice for the less fortunate.
To learn more or to join with others in caring for creation, see www.crcjustice.org; www.greeningsacredspaces.net (Canada); and www.webofcreation.org (USA). For examples of what other Christian Reformed churches are doing, see “Earthkeeping in Action” in the April 2010 Banner.
See also: Get Off the Global Warming Bandwagon by Paul Rhoda.