There are detractors who find the Church and her members guilty of exploitation and abuse of our natural resources, because of a biblical license to dominate creation as she pleases. As a practicing Christian, I concur that the Church has an uneven track record in response to the environment.
The biblical mandate
Then God said, ""˜Let us make human beingsin our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.’"¦Then God blessed them and said, "˜Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.’ Then God said, "˜Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.’" Genesis 1:26-27, 29, New Living Translation
I believe that this text actually calls for men and women to govern in a responsible manner. In addition, Psalm 8 reminds man how undeserving he is to assume such a grandiose role over the created order. In man’s delegated assignment, I believe it is reasonable to assume that plants and fruit are not merely food for the enjoyment of mankind, but to be shared with and sustain the rest of the animal kingdom. This food, and entire environmental system, has been put into place by God for mankind to steward, maintain, and protect. Perhaps it is time that man is graded on our efforts to manage God’s creation thus far. If so, do you think we deserve passing marks?
A world of possibilities
I tend to “come alive” whenever I spend time at the beach, gaze at a Hill Country sunrise or star scene, climb beautiful hills and mountains, or get startled by deer softly passing past me while I’m jogging or hiking. My soul is filled as I come to grips with the splendor of God’s creation.
As Christians ponder our created world, they may find themselves wanting to make a positive impact and add value to their environment. I’d suggest that a good starting place would be to form a "Green Team" and begin studying and plotting out specific action steps for engaging the church and community in tangibly beneficially ways. If so, I hope our story and the deeds of our church’s Green Team may encourage anyone embarking upon that journey. And, I’d personally love to help you accomplish those dreams.
Involving the Church
The church is an integral part of any community, so there is no better engine of environmental change than to get your parish or congregation actively involved in neighborhood scaled projects. There are a number of activities that can be organized that will start to create real change and begin a dialogue about what can be done to start living sustainable lifestyles!
- Hold a free-cycle/e-cycle event – supports the reuse of furniture and goods
- Grow a community garden – reconnects the community to the land, and create a vibrant and interactive space
- Host a farmers market – creates opportunities for the community to meet and greet with local farmers and experience the benefits of buying locally grown foods
For further reading:
I heartily endorse the following books for individuals and church "Green Teams":
- Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action Provides a Christian foundation and very practical ideas for trying to save the planet.
- The Green Bible Bible verses concerning the environment and creation are highlighted in green. It also includes thought provoking essays by leaders of Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant communities.
- Our Father’s World Offers lots of biblical insights and ideas for potential action steps.
Suggested web links:
www.arocha.org. An international Christian organization emphasizing practical projects to demonstrate care of creation.
www.blessedearth.org. Full of excellent resources for churches from the author of Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action.
www.faithinplace.org. Invaluable source for people who want to make a positive difference in their religious communities.
http://www.wheaton.edu/wetn/flash-chapel/gradchap09-10/091104Moshier.html. An inspiring message given by in 2009 by a geology professor at Wheaton College about how nature can foster worship of God.
If you like these simple eco-solutions and are interested in teaching on environmental stewardship, saving money and making other some green living adjustments without necessarily spending a fortune, Contact us and we will be happy to come out and discuss changes that will make a positive difference in your church.