A biblical view of the planet on Earth Day

What is one to say regarding the care for our good earth? The Judeo-Christian account of creation does not set forth a scientific understanding of how the world began, but rather points to why it exists at all. At the end of the first creation account in Genesis 1:31, we hear the words “And it was very good.”

This pronouncement indicates an evaluative comment by God assessing the reality of everything that had been made.

In the second account of creation (probably more ancient than the first account) Genesis 2:4, we encounter the fascinating story of the creation of humanity in the garden. The earth creature, Adam, is told to till and care for the garden, a clear invitation to stewardship of the earth and all that is in it. When the partner joins him, she is to share in the care for the garden.

What this all means for us today should be clear. As co-creators with God, we have the capacity to creatively utilize the resources of this good earth for the benefit of all. Unfortunately the human tendency towards exploitation has superseded the notion of stewardship in the name of economic interests. Realistically, we must face the future without naivety and simplicity. That means, however, confronting the real costs of a polluted world, poisoned waterways, disappearance of several species, global climate change and the like.

In a throw-away society, long term costs are seldom factored into the equation. Jobs in the oil patch mean more than jobs in the environmental field in our current government’s thinking. More people need to raise the question: Is this sound economics? The Judeo-Christian tradition celebrates the goodness of creation and the creator. Thus it is surprising that so little concern for creation seems to emanate from these sources.

Indeed, creationists seem to fight about a literal seven day creation rather than focus upon the problems of global warming and issues pertaining to environmental health.

There are many issues confronting care for the earth. Admittedly, the concept that humanity is to exercise ‘dominion’ over the created order, Genesis 1:28, has been easily misunderstood and led to exploitation of the earth’s resources. This misreading of the text needs to be corrected.

Clearly we are to exercise dominion as God exercises dominion over us – that is, with a deep concern for love and justice.

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and those who live in it,” Psalm 24:1.

For those who believe that this is true, we need to exercise our stewardship of the earth with great care and compassion. We may have to pay a price to correct the imbalance of current conditions.

Who will show us the way? There is much to be learned from aboriginal peoples who have always had a closer walk with nature and been more in tune with the earth. In the short term, we can each do a little with conservation of resources. In the long term, let us attempt to call our politicians to responsibility for our good earth and all of its resources.

Earth Day 2012 has come and gone. But the issues remain. Let us move forward with courage and conviction so that future generations may live to enjoy our good earth. “God saw all that he had created and it was very good.” Let us not spoil it any longer.

Rev. Harry Klassen is the Interim Minister at Fallingbrook Presbyterian Church. After serving Fallingbrook 25 years ago, he is now assisting the congregation in its search for a new called minister.

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