Pastor Mark’s Devotions, April 22

“God’s Green Earth”

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

Today, in over 190 countries, people are called upon to reflect upon the state of our planet. This is the 50th anniversary to an event called, “Earth Day”. After seeing the ravages of an oil spill in Santa Barbara in 1969, Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin set out to raise the country’s awareness of the environment. Over the years, over 1 billion people have been drawn into the conversation regarding care for creation.

As Christians, the sanctity of God’s creation should be on our radar. In the first chapter of the Bible, human beings have been entrusted with the care of God’s handiwork. God said, “Let us (the Trinity) make human beings in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26).

The Hebrew word, “to rule” (radah), does not mean to dominate and destroy. If we look at the overall human footprint on God’s creation, it could be argued that human beings have been crushing creation’s head for continual personal gain. In Genesis chapter 3, a prophecy is given that Christ will crush the head of Satan. Has humanity been inadvertently been crushing that which God created good? Some have even gone so far as to argue that human beings are the virus that is destroying the world. Those are harsh words. But with greater power in humanity’s hands, and with the curse of sin still playing all of its cards, one could conclude that that protection of God’s creation has not been a high priority.  

I have to admit that I am a rather late comer to seriously consider the ramifications of my actions, and overall human action upon the world. Growing up, I do not remember conversations about being a good steward of the earth. As a Christian, I do not remember sermons emphasizing stewardship of creation. And I have spent little time discussing the stewardship of creation in my own messages.  When we moved to Washington, and I found out that one did not get “paid” for recycling aluminum cans, glass and plastic, my reaction exposed my selfishness, “Then why should I recycle?”. Over time, I have come to realize that my faith in Jesus Christ does not simply follow a cerebral, emotional or spiritual track. My faith in Christ is to track with my entire life. My Christian faith needs to seriously impact all of my life, including my stewardship of God’s creation. We honor Him when we honor Christ, His creation and so much more.

As we all have suffered under this global pandemic, it’s interesting that there are a few positives effects that can be seen. One of those positive effects is air quality. Since people have seriously responded to the “stay at home” orders in most every country, air quality has markedly improved. Pictures of cities around the world have shown amazing improvements in smog and the reduction of pollution particles in the air. New Delhi in India looks like a new city. Yesterday, Los Angeles reported the cleanest air on the planet. Can that report even be trusted? The report is hard to believe. But as I saw the before and after pictures for myself, the shots were pretty amazing. In Nepal, the Himalayas could be seen from a major city 120 miles away that is normally consumed in smog. The Champs Elysees in Paris looked like it belonged in the Louvre Museum it was so cleaned up. The clean air could even be seen from satellites in space.

If resting humanity for a few weeks, can cause such a positive effect, what are we to learn from this? I believe that our human imprint does make a difference upon the condition of our planet. Yes, we can argue about how much of an effect. But as we move forward, maybe it just makes some reasonable sense to take out an insurance policy. This was President Reagan’s attitude when confronted with the ozone issue of the 1980’s. That insurance policy is still paying dividends as the atmosphere in the Arctic continues to repair and heal itself. No one argues that taking out a personal life insurance policy to protect one’s family from future tragedies is a good idea. Can this line of reasoning not also apply to the unknown future effects placed upon creation? Wouldn’t a life insurance policy on our own God given creation be better than rolling the dice on establishing a colony on Mars?

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each one of us, as believers in Jesus Christ, and recipients of God’s good earth, to reflect upon our own personal stewardship. Do we ignore the warning signs and red flags of climate change? The people of Noah’s day were too preoccupied with their own personal endeavors. Only a handful heeded the warning signs and directives while the sun continued to shine. But the climate was soon going to drastically change. By the time the rain began to fall, it was too late. Most drowned and a few were saved.

The establishment of Earth Day was a political ploy to bring attention to creation. We need not be driven by politics. But as believers in Yahweh God, who created the heavens and the earth, God has given us the responsibility to be good stewards of all of His creativity. And we are called to do this, not just one day a year, but rather each day of every year.

So, on this Wednesday, April 22, 2020 – perhaps it’s a day to ask the question: How can I honor God, who created the heavens and the earth for me? For me, it begins with taking my glass and plastic to the recycle bins – with a smile on my face and thanksgiving in my heart. And a prayer that I can love Jesus Christ and His creation much more.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

You have made them a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned them with glory and honor. You make him ruler over the works of your hands, you put everything under his feet.”

Psalm 8:3-6

In Christ,

Pastor Mark