Why Should Christians Care?

The Environment:

A S C H R IS T IA N S , WHY SHO ULD WE C A R E FO R T HE ENV IR O NMENT ? WH Y S H O UL D W E B E C O NC ER NED A B O UT “B EING GR EEN”?

A good look at the Bible will show us how much the God we serve cares for the planet he made. Throughout the Bible we see a common thread of God’s concern for his creation, which includes our planet. We know we’ve been given the responsibility and privilege to love what God loves. In Genesis, God tells all species to be fruitful and multiply; because God has blessed the animals, one of our responsibilities is to care for them as he would. The first creation account (Genesis 1:1-2:4a) includes the Creator’s repeated pronouncements that each layer of the world is good (the Hebrew word tov). God says this even before humans arrive on the scene, showing that God thought this planet was pretty amazing when we weren’t even here yet! Then God goes on to make us, with the world as our habitat. Humans have received the world as a gift from the Creator and must never mistake it for a possession (Leviticus 25:23). After God makes us, he gives us our vocation. In Genesis 2:15 (NKJV), Adam is directed to “tend and keep” the garden. The Hebrew word for tend—abad—means “to work or serve,” and so, referring to the ground or a garden, can be defined as “to till or cultivate.” It implies adornment, embellishment, and improvement. The Hebrew word for keep, shamar, means “to exercise great care over.” In the context of Genesis 2:15, it expresses God’s wish that humankind “take care of,” “guard,” or “watch over” the earth. This is the biblical mandate for creation care.

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God’s words in Genesis 1-2, the very first that we have, are in sharp contrast to the once-prevalent and still persistent interpretation of “dominion” that many people, even many Christians, use to sanction environmental destruction in the name of progress—even in the name of God. The creation is by nature destined for the common good of past, present and future generations. Our dominion over the natural world, granted by the Creator, is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of our neighbors, including those yet to be born. It requires humility and awed respect for the integrity of the whole of creation.

God means for us to steward the Earth and its creatures with mercy, justice, and compassion. As Jesus was the ultimate servant leader, we are to follow his example in our “dominion” over the Earth. Put simply, creation care of God’s earth is necessary if we are to love God and love what he loves. Another reason God calls us to care for his planet is because environmental degradation is particularly hurts the poor. They, who usually live in areas vulnerable to floods, drought, and other natural disasters, all of which damage food production, often suffer first and most from the effects of neglect and degradation of God’s creation. In particular, our failure to care for creation has led to a change in the earth’s climate. For the poor, climate change is neither fiction nor a far ff threat, but a present-day reality. Climate change is a natural disaster intensifier: making floods ore fierce, drought more chronic and severe, and hurricanes harsher. This increase in the intensity and numbers of natural disasters are jeopardizing the ability of poor communities to grow crops, access water, and house and feed themselves. These cumulative events, stemming from environmental degradation and climate change, has pushed many back into poverty. Creation care is an expression of our love for God and, as an extension, our love for the poor; it also fulfills our charge to be good stewards. In the final analysis, if we do not consider the effects of environmental degradation caused by our own actions, we are not serving the poor. We are actually working against them. There is simply no question that a right relationship with our environment, that is, with God’s creation, is our responsibility as Christians. It is similar to and interwoven with our responsibility to care for the poor. Affluent Christians, who have the resources, can make a very real difference in this area. Let us hear the words of Jesus when he says that to whom much has been given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). We have been given much. Let’s do all we can to work with the poor by caring for creation to the best of our abilities.
- Adapted from a resource by Nils von Kalm, ANCP Coordinator, World Vision Australia
The Scripture in this resource is from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. During the preparation of this resource, all citations, facts, figures, Internet URLs, and other cited information were verified for accuracy. World Vision Resources has made every attempt to reference current and valid sources, but we cannot guarantee the content of any source and we are not responsible for any changes that may have occurred since our verification. If you find an error in, or have a question or concern about, any of the information or sources listed within, please contact World Vision Resources. Copyright © 2010 World Vision Inc., Mail Stop 321, P.O. Box 9716, Federal Way, WA 98063-9716, 253.815.3320, wvresources@worldvision.org. All rights reserved.

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About World Vision
W O R L D V IS IO N is a Christian humanitarian organization

dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, World Vision serves alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for all people. We see a world where each child experiences “fullness of life” as described in John 10:10. And we know this can be achieved only by addressing the problems of poverty and injustice in a holistic way. That’s how World Vision is unique: We bring 60 years of experience in three key areas needed to help children and families thrive: emergency relief, long-term development, and advocacy. And we bring all of our skills across many areas of expertise to each community we work in, enabling us to care for children’s physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Partnering with World Vision provides tangible ways to honor God and put faith into action. By working, we can make a lasting difference in the lives of children and families who are struggling to overcome poverty. To find out more about how you can help, visit www.worldvision.org.

About World Vision Resources
E NDING GL O B A L PO V ERT Y and injustice begins with education:

understanding the magnitude and causes of poverty, its impact on human dignity, and our connection to those in need around the world. World Vision Resources is the publishing ministry of World Vision. World Vision Resources educates Christians about global poverty, inspires them to respond, and equips them with innovative resources to make a difference in the world.

For more information about our resources, contact: World Vision Resources Mail Stop 321 P.O. Box 9716 Federal Way, WA 98063-9716 Fax: 253-815-3340 wvresources@worldvision.org www.worldvisionresources.com

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