In the eleventh in a series of articles from Through-Lines: Defining What a Christian Is – Christians will respond to God’s call to be stewards of all of creation.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
—Psalm 24:1 (NIV)
Most people understand the idea of earth-keeping. We have been taught to recycle and have heard about our carbon footprint. To illustrate, last year, I did a through-lines presentation for a Masters-level teaching course. Instead of assigning to learners a through-line about which to write, I let them choose. Most of the class chose to write about earth-keeping, because they already knew that we all have a responsibility to take care of the earth.
For Christians, the earth-keeping responsibility is a command. The writer of Genesis says “And God saw everything that he had made, and it was very good” (1:31). Then God gives to people a daunting task when He calls us to be stewards, caretakers, or gardeners of all of creation (Gen 1:28). God created the world and he gives us the opportunity to ‘manage’ it on his behalf. Old Testament and New Testament people lived in agricultural communities and knew all of God’s laws for taking care of the land including the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25) that required times of rest and renewal for the land.
The church and our children need to think back to Eden and learn how to care for all things with respect: the environment, water, animals, plants, farmland, and all resources. During church meetings and events, children need to see that the church sorts its garbage and recycle. Some churches have become strong advocates of solar energy by installing solar panels on their roofs thereby reducing costs and engaging in action and conversation about energy use.
Earth-keeping also calls for us to teach our children to sort out our wants from our needs, so that we can share God’s created planet with other people living in other areas of the world and share it with those yet to be born. By doing this, we respond to God’s command to be his servants.
- Ask children to watch out for ways to save water and electricity.
- Find ways to drive less. Does your church have a bike rack? Encourage everyone to walk, ride your bike or take the bus to church! Explore carpooling as a choice for getting around town. You will have extra time to spend with your friends and family.
- Ask your church family to use less heat and air conditioning. Dress for the weather.
- Start a compost system for all the fruits and vegetable peelings and scraps.
- Spend time in nature. Teach a class outside in the fresh air.
- Keep the church and neighborhood free of garbage. Put it in the recycling or garbage where it belongs.