Of all the stereotypes that have formed around what it means to be an environmentalist, the one stereotype that I would like to see most closely related with environmental consciousness would be “Christian.” And while the granola-eating, organic, tree-hugging activists with questionable hygiene and bad styles living out on the fringes of society should be applauded for their care of creation, my hope is that one day it is Christians who are most known for their environmental concern.
In the Christian church we often hear about Jesus’ Great Commission to go out into the world preaching the Gospel, baptizing people, and teaching them to obey Scripture. At the very beginning of the Bible, the book that we claim to obey and organize our lives around, comes the First Commission where Creator God commands that we care for and tend the earth. Interestingly, we Christians have been up in arms for years over the creation/evolution debate dumping time, energy, and resources into defending our claim for a Creator God while largely ignoring to care for His creation like He asked. Further, many bridges could be built and many walls broken down when we recognize that, though there is disagreement on the origins of our blue planet, there is wide scale agreement that we must care for it.
Scripture is clear that creation was made for God (Col. 1), by God (Genesis 1-2), and still belongs to God (Psalm 24). Additionally, Romans 1 tells us that God’s glory is revealed to Christian and non-Christian alike through creation, which includes the beauty of Mt. Baker at first light, the quiet gurgling of Clayburn Creek in the summer, and the prominent Cheam range as you drive east on Highway 1. One prominent dead theologian said it this way, “God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” Clearly, Christians should be known for their care of creation.
Thankfully, Christians around the world are beginning to respond to Creator God’s call to tend and care for a planet under siege to pollution, depleting resources, unsustainable development, and gross imbalances of food and water supplies. Every personal, community, and corporate action towards a greener lifestyle does count and is significant no matter how small the action may appear. This call towards an increasingly “green” lifestyle does not, however, come without cost. It will cost your time. It will cost your comfort. It will cost your convenience. It will cost your conscious. It might even cost you some green. The question being, is it worth it?
I think it is.
The Christian church must respond to this call. Environmental concern in not just a popular fad like tie-dye t-shirts or blogging, it is a biblical mandate that can not be ignored. For Christians, we begin by humbly repenting for our part in creation degradation and then actively pursue how to reduce harm, reduce waste, and begin to restore what has been lost. This may mean that churches don’t supply Styrofoam cups for the horrible church coffee that is consumed every Sunday morning or that car pooling and energy efficient structures and methods are in place. Maybe it means that the best parking spots are reserved for hybrid vehicles, that church grounds have community gardens, or that bike locks, lockers, and showers are provided to encourage people to bike, blade, run, or skateboard to church. Creative solutions to creation care will be as unique to the church and individual as anything else. Not everyone or every church can do everything, but everyone doing something will add up. The God we serve is green, why shouldn’t we be also?