We must take care of God’s Creation
Mark Fairweather Tall is concerned about the onward progress of climate change, and believes we owe it to God to do all we can not to accelerate this progress.
Sitting at my desk today and thinking about what to write, I heard an unusual sound. On the skylight in my office was the unmistakeable sound of rainfall - not just a few drops but a proper downpour! It has been a while since that happened during this very dry and hot period of weather that we have been experiencing.
Some, of course, have loved this, whilst others have found it too hot, and the recent drop in temperature has been most welcome. The forecast does suggest that the hot weather will be returning before long.
The weather is often a favourite topic of conversation, especially when we hit extremes like the heatwave of this summer. This has led to all sorts of questions. For example:
Will the UK record its highest ever temperature? (currently 38.5° in Faversham, Kent on 10 August 2003);
What will happen to all the brown grass? (according to the Royal Horticultural Society, brown lawns look a lot worse than they are and they should recover rapidly with rainfall);
Is it safe to completely fill a petrol tank? (There have been warnings on social media about the danger of an explosion – a complete myth according to those in the know);
How do you sleep at night when it is so hot? (Top tip – put your pillow case and sheet in a plastic bag and place in the freezer for ten minutes).
Of the various questions, one has stuck in my mind: Is the heatwave down to climate change?
One recent report, widely covered in the British media, suggests that the ‘signal of climate change is unambiguous.’ The widespread scale of the heat experienced across Europe prompted scientists to investigate whether there is a link with climate change and, if so, whether this is caused by human influence. Their verdict from looking at weather stations in the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark is that climate change has generally made the current heatwave more than twice as likely.
Whilst it is difficult to say that any specific event is caused by climate change, it is argued that this adds to an ever-growing list of evidence that climate change is happening and causing extreme weather events. The BBC series ‘Blue Planet’ has done much to raise the awareness of the impact of human activity on marine life and David Attenborough has been urging us to do more to protect the environment.
Over the years I have become increasingly convinced that caring for the world is not something that lives alongside my Christian faith but should be very much a part of it. There are three main reasons why I believe this.
First, the Bible tells us that God made the world and as He looks at what He has made He describes it as ‘very good’. God cares about the world that He has created. There are so many beautiful aspects of His creation. A part of our appreciation of Creator God is to care for what He has made.
Secondly, we can understand ourselves as stewards of God’s creation. When God created Adam and Eve He said: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28. Adam was then given a task: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15. Was this task just for Adam or is it something that we should consider today?
Well, there are verses that remind us of who the world belongs to: Psalm 24:1 tells us “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” It is also a reality that many of those who suffer the worst of extreme weather are the poorest in our world. The Bible has much to say about caring for the poor. In aiming to be wise stewards of creation, I believe that we are furthering our walk of obedience to God.
Thirdly, one day the world as we know it will be recreated as the ‘new heavens and a new earth.’ Evangelistic passion has often led us to give the message that we need to repent of sins, accept Jesus as Lord and then we can be certain that we will go to heaven. This can sound like our ultimate destiny is simply to evacuate the earth.
Please don’t mishear me – I believe there is no more important and vital decision that we can make in our lives than to confess our sins and invite Jesus into our hearts. However, as I read the Bible, I believe the overall message of Scripture is not that the earth is doomed to destruction and heaven is escaping from the earth, but rather that God’s ultimate plan is that there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
A physical resurrection requires a physical place to live and John’s vision recorded in the book of Revelation describes it in this way: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people and He will dwell with them…’” Revelation 21:2-3. Is it possible that in caring for the environment now we are practising for what we will do in the new creation? I find it an intriguing thought.
As we appreciate creation, seek to grow our obedience to God through wise stewarding and look forward to the final promise of God of a new heaven and a new earth, I can’t help but reflect that my understanding leads me to a place where caring about the environment is an important aspect of how I can live out my Christian faith.
And maybe that is something we need to talk more about… which would make a change from talking about the weather!
The image above is courtesy of https://pixabay.com
Rev Mark Fairweather Tall is the Minister of Norwich Central Baptist Church.
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