God Is Green

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forest waterfall and rocks covered with moss

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 1:28-31

God’s creation. In the beginning God made the world and everything on it, including us humans and it was very good. He then gave dominion of the earth to humankind. We, of course, being human, screwed it up. We polluted the air, the land and the sea. We cut down vast expanses of forest. We tore minerals from the ground and sucked the oil from depths of the earth. What was given to us as a trust has become a host to our parasitic existence.

Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t utilize the resources we’ve been given. What I am saying is that we should do so responsibly. God made us stewards, for lack of a better word, of this world. He made it; it belongs to him. He put us in charge of taking care of it. Caretakers! That’s a better word. God made us the Earth’s caretakers. We seem to be failing in that task.

The wrong views. When I was a kid, the environmental movement was just starting and most Christians looked at it in one of two ways; both were wrong. Environmentalists were seen to be either “nature worshipers” or “lacking in faith.” Let’s look at these individually.

It was thought that people who were concerned about the environment were loving the creation more than the creator. That they had got their focus wrong and were, at best, misguided or, at worst, practically pagans. They were sinners that needed to be brought into the Christian fold or ignored.

Professing Christians who were concerned about the state of the environment lacked faith that God would provide for us. If we polluted the world, ran out of oil or whatever other natural catastrophe we caused — God would provide. The environment would be miraculously repaired, more oil would appear or something else would happen showing God’s great provision.

We Christians have a way of viewing others’ beliefs and actions as sinful without ever regarding our own as anything but pious. We excel at being hypocrites and at belittling others for their beliefs. This is what we did to the environmentalists for a long time. It was wrong.

The hard truth. What we had failed to understand in the past and are only now slowly realizing is that God generally doesn’t magically provide for us. Sure he has done it in the past (manna and quail) but in the main he tends to use people to accomplish his will. He uses us. The environment needs cleaned up; he uses people to do it. Why have we, the Church, been trying to block the people He may be using from doing His work? We should be ashamed of ourselves.

We, more than any others, should understand the great responsibility that we have in taking care of our world. God has entrusted us with his creation. What are we doing with it?

 For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew 25:14-30

The above passage is generally used to illustrate sermons on Stewardship, which somehow has come to mean giving money to the church, but I think it is just as illustrative in our case. We have been entrusted with the Master’s creation. Will we do nothing and let it die? Will we do a little and prolong it or will we do a lot and return it to him in better condition than we found it? In the end it’s up to each of us to decide. God is green, a safe assertion being that he created the environment. Will we be or not? Our job, as Christians, is to be more like Christ and to emulate Him. So, let’s be green like God and inspire others to follow suit.

 

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Richard L. Foland Jr. is an Author, Lay Speaker and former Youth Leader. He has lived a mostly nomadic life in western Pennsylvania, southeastern Ohio and (briefly) western New York. Currently, he resides somewhere in the chimney of Pennsylvania with his wife and a constantly shifting array of children and stepchildren. He hates divorce, having been through one, and loathes large gatherings. The latter probably explains why he would prefer to sit alone at a keyboard rather than go to a party. You can follow his slow descent into inanity at the Pharos Blogject, on goodreads or Facebook.