Are we destroying the planet? Does it matter?

Recently a young woman told me, “I’m really concerned about the environment. I keep on hearing that all my purchases are changing the climate. And I know Christians who don’t seem to care at all about the earth. Why aren’t we doing more to save the planet?”

I responded, “You’re right. Many Christians treat this world as if it is the Titanic, and our only goal is to get people on the life raft before it goes down. That’s not right. And yet, you need to know that the fate of the planet is not resting on your shoulders.”

Climate change continues to be a very hot topic, with strong opinions on both sides. Some are anxious about the world’s fate. Others are apathetic. 

Who’s right?

Let’s see what Scripture says. 

1. The world was good, and it’s going to get better.
I had a professor who said, “When you share your faith, begin by talking about the sin of Adam and Eve.” 

I disagree. 

If we begin with and focus on sin and death, then we might give the impression that this world is a lost cause. But the Bible doesn’t begin with sin, death, and destruction. On page 1 of the Bible, God creates a world. He looks at all he has made, especially humans, and he says, “Wow, what I made is really good!”

Granted, by the time you get to page 3, humans have already brought sin, death, and destruction into the world. But that’s not how it started. The world started good. And God promised that he will make this world better. 

That might be a surprise to you. Maybe you’ve heard that the world is headed for complete destruction. All the movies about the future (and some preachers) certainly give that impression. 

But look at the very last page of the Bible. God says he is making a renewed sky and a renewed earth. Jesus himself talks about the end of time, describing it as the “renewal of all things” (Matthew 19:28). Paul doesn’t say that this world will be destroyed, but it will be “liberated from its bondage” (Romans 8:21). 

Yes, this world is reserved for fire (2 Peter 3:7). But it is a refining fire so that all things can be made new (Revelation 21:5).

God does not consider this world a piece of trash that will be thrown into an eternal dumpster. This world is his special creation that brings glory to his name and gives our lives meaning and purpose. 

2. God’s promise to the planet
Now you might be thinking, “OK, I see now that this world is going to be renewed. But don’t we have the capacity to destroy it?” 

Not as much as you might think. 

Certainly, some of our decisions have hurt the environment. The pesticide DDT almost totally wiped out the eagle population. Can you imagine America without the bald eagle?

On the other hand, I remember watching the underwater video footage of the BP oil spill in April 2010. Over three million barrels of oil pumped into the Gulf of Mexico. We all wondered if ocean life would be irrevocably damaged. But then scientists discovered special jellyfish that were breaking down the oil and erasing its impact, proving Earth is not as fragile as we once thought.

Below is the promise God made after the flood. It reminds us God is ultimately in control of the climate and seasons and harvests. And he promises to preserve those patterns until the end. 

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Genesis 8:22).

3. We are caretakers of God’s planet.
So if God is in control, does that mean we can do whatever we want? Absolutely not. God made us in his image to care for his planet. The first humans were placed in a garden to plant, tend, and cultivate his good world (Genesis 1:28-30; Psalm 8*). And we have been called to do the same thing ever since. 

I have a relative who owns a beautiful cabin. He has invited us to stay whenever we want. I’ve noticed that when we stay there, we keep it cleaner than our own house. And we try to leave it even better than when we arrived. 

That is how we should look at this planet. It’s God’s beautiful world, and he has invited us to enjoy it. Because it is God’s world, we will naturally want to take care of it. And when it’s our time to go, hopefully we’ve made this earth a little better than when we arrived. 

Concluding thoughts
According to God’s Word, humans are NOT unwanted parasites who are sucking the life from the planet. Nor are we supposed to be environmental gluttons, wasting and ruining Earth’s resources. 

God has created a good, beautiful, and resilient world. Humans have brought sin, decay, disease, and destruction into it. But he has confronted all that is wrong through the work of Jesus Christ. Now we wait for his return when he will renew and upgrade all creation. Therefore, as a child of God, take care of your Father’s world.

* Psalm 8 is an incredibly poetic explanation of our place in the world. God reveals his power and glory by making the galaxies above. He also gives us honor and glory by giving us work to do here below. 

Pastor Ben Sadler has served as a full-time pastor since 2010. He began his ministry serving a Spanish-speaking congregation in Florida. Since March 2014, he has served at Goodview Trinity Church in Minnesota. He is married to Emily, and they have three children. Ben loves to spend time with his family, ride his road bike, read, write, and preach.

 

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