“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden
To work it and take care of it.”
For the last several years there has been a debate raging about the subject of what is called “Global Warming” or “Climate Change.” The point seems to be that because of global warming we had better start taking care of the environment or catastrophe is coming. Now the purpose of this week’s blog is not to join in that debate. I will let those who know far more than I do, debate these issues. For me, global warming is not the reason I care about the environment.
My reason is much simpler. In his book, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer says that there is a simple reason why we pray. “We should pray because God has commanded us to pray.” The same could be said about why we care about the environment. God has commanded us to care about the creation. He put the first man in the garden “to work it and take care of it.” That little verse from Genesis 2 speaks volumes to me. First, this is a great reminder that the world belongs to God, not you or me. He is the owner. We are His servants. We are His stewards. We are not free to work and take care of this world as we please. Ours is to watch over the creation as He pleases!
In a whole number of ways, the creation around us is a gift from God. He gives it to us to “work it.” That means we are to use the resources of the creation to provide for our daily lives and the lives of those we love. So producing food, using timber for building, oil for gas and so forth are proper examples of “working it.”
And at the same time, the creation is a gift to take care of. This is a gift on loan to us. There are two great commandments – to love God and to love our neighbor. Those commandments are at the heart of why we care for this gift of creation. This world belongs to the Creator and so out of love for Him, we care for this world. We also care for it out love for our neighbors. We care for the world so that our neighbors might also live productive live. We take care of the environment so that this world will be here for future generations to work and care for.
Being made stewards of the creation is itself a gift. When I was a kid I loved it… I counted it a great gift when my dad was working on something and he let me help. He didn’t need my help. But he wanted it When he built the new shelves in our basement and he had me cutting the boards, or nailing the shelves together, I loved that dad wanted my help. What fun it was to work alongside of him. That’s the gift God gives in making us stewards of His creation. He is inviting us to be a part of His work. What a privilege! What a gift.
Finally, creation is a gift God wants us to enjoy. The Garden was called Eden. That word means “delight.” God desires that we delight in, and find joy in the creation. Walks in the woods, a swim in the lake, a picnic in a park, camping, fishing, playing in the midst of God’s majestic creation – those are all part of God’s will for us in the gift of creation.
Giving us this world is one of the ways God has shown us just how much He loves us. What better way to show Him our love for Him than by taking care of this world, this universe – His amazing gift to us. That’s really all the reason I need for taking care of the environment.