A Different Shade of Green

July 20, 2010

Have you heard of The Green Bible?  It’s a specialty Bible designed to “equip and encourage you to see God’s vision for creation and help you engage in the work of healing and sustaining it.”  Not only is there a lot of green in this Bible (all the verses mentioning the earth are highlighted in green), the Bible itself is “green” with its cotton/linen cover, recyclable binding and paper, and soy based ink.

As if Christians didn’t know that we are stewards of creation!  Did we really need a specialty Bible to remind us?  Well, perhaps we have forgotten.  At least we evangelicals seem a little fuzzy on this point.  If anything good has come of the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe, it is this: evangelicals are awakening to environmental concerns.  In the past we have been content to play quietly by ourselves so as to keep out of the way of those noisy liberals.  Yet if we re-read our Bibles carefully, we realize that we were here first.  The playground is ours, so to speak.

Does this mean we should all rush to build a compost pile? Or to start neighborhood recycling initiatives?  Or to go organic?  Or to become Democrats?  Let’s not get carried away.  A better place to start is by making sure our biblical foundation is solid.  We would be wise, before doing anything else, to examine what the Bible says about Christianity and the environment.

Should Christians care about the environment?  If so, why should we care?  How will our care look different from the care given by those who don’t share our faith?  I attempted to answer these questions in a sermon last week.  The core of the sermon had to do with why we should care about the environment:

  1. We should care about the environment because of sovereignty.  “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1).  We love the one who is sovereign over the world.  And because we love him, we love everything that belongs to him.
  2. We should care about the environment because of responsibility.  “Be fruitful…multiply…fill the earth…subdue it…have dominion…work it…keep it” (Genesis 1:28; 2:15).  God has given us the responsibility of stewarding the earth.
  3. We should care about the environment because of joy.  “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).  This world is a theater for God’s glory, Calvin said.  The marvels of God’s handiwork are meant to ring in our hearts and echo back up to God in joyful worship.
  4. We should care about the environment because of humanity.  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).  Are we truly loving our neighbor when we ignore the environment in which he lives and which, in many cases, causes him to suffer?  Sharing the gospel, which is the ultimate way of loving our neighbor, may lead us to do something about our neighbor’s dirty drinking water too.  Or the oil in his backyard.
  5. We should care about the environment because of eschatology.  “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21).  Not just we who have been redeemed, but the cosmos itself is under the claim of the crucified and risen Christ.  Our bodies will be raised with Christ, and the earth will be remade.  And so we are to care about both now.

Christians should care about the environment for all these reasons.  How are we to work out our care practically?  There is much to be considered and debated.  No doubt we will have disagreements among ourselves about politics and policies and practices.  But the biblical foundation is firm, and we must build something on it.

Yes, Christians should be green, though green of a different shade.  We will be tinted by the distinct motive of glorifying God.  Whether we eat or drink or take up environmental causes, let us do so with the intent to honor our Creator and Redeemer.

We don’t need a specialty Bible to teach us that.

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