Sunday, July 7, 2019


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

How are we doing as stewards of God's creation?

We have five plastic garbage patches floating in the oceans.  The largest of which is twice the size of Texas.  By 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish, by weight.

Species extinction is happening 1,000 times faster, at a current rate of 150-200 species of plant and animal per day.

Air pollution is one of the world's largest single health risks, responsible for about 3.7 million deaths a year.

Half of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1900.

Nearly 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated and polluting rivers, lakes, and coastal areas.

In developing countries, 70% of industrial waste is dumped untreated into waters where it pollutes the potable water supply.

Flint’s water situation is still not under control.  Pipes are still being replaced and the citizenry is still relying on bottled water.

Every day, 2 million tons of human waste is disposed in water bodies.

Recent evidence shows that groundwater supplies are diminishing with an estimated 20% of the world’s aquifiers being over-exploited.

The global sea level rose about 6.7 inches in the last century.  The rate in the last decade, however, was nearly double that.

And all of that is not even touching global climate change.

We are clearly doing a lot of damage to the planet.  We as humans are the only species that is able to inflict such great harm on our environment.  We take more than we need from it, we strip away its resources, and we leave our waste and trash in our wake.   

The concept of stewardship refers to looking after someone’s property in that person’s interest.  Biblical stewardship is accepting your role as a steward of God’s property.  Being the caretaker of God’s creation.  And a steward will be called into account for their management by the owner.

When God asks us how we took care of His creation, how are we going to respond?

And even more troubling, why is it that Christian groups are often the one's most hostile to environmental causes?

How many messages do we hear about taking care of the planet?

How often are Evangelicals the one's opposing the science behind climate change or other environmental causes?  We’ve had Evangelical anti-environmentalist groups urging the National Association of Evangelicals not to weigh in on global climate change.  We’ve shouted down voices like Jonathan Merritt and his “Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change.”  We have the Cornwall Alliance devoted to portraying environmentalism as a cult which must be opposed.

I would contend that Christians should be the first one's championing care for the planet.  Championing causes to tend to and grow God's creation.

Churches and Christians should be leading the forefront on recycling.  Through recycling and composting the appropriate portions of trash.  Through reuse and donations of goods.  A commitment to reduction of single use items.

Churches and Christians should be committed to cleaning up the world around them.  Adopting sections of highway to remove litter and waste.  Cleaning up nearby rivers and lakes.  

Christian lobbying efforts and political positions should include commitments to reducing emissions and pollution.  To promote efforts to live more sustainably, with alternative energy forms.

Looking at the controversial climate change, the world’s leading climate scientists have warned we only have twelve years to make the necessary changes to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5º C.  Beyond that amount, even half a degree (or to 2º C) will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat, and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.  

The greatest risk at 2º C would be to nature.  Insects and plants are almost twice as likely to lose half their habitat.  Coral would be 99% lost at the higher temperature.  Marine fisheries would lose 3m tonnes at the higher temperature, twice the decline of the lower.  Sea ice-free summers in the Arctic would come once every 100 years at the lower temperature, but every 10 years with the half degree increase.

Even if we disagree that this is an eventuality, even if we disagree that human’s are the greatest cause, if the above is even a possibility, why would we not try to help prevent such a catastrophe?

Jesus discussed the general responsibilities of a steward in Luke 12, in the parable of the unfaithful steward.

"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.  Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.  But understand this:  If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, because the Son of man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.’

Peter asked, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?’

The Lord answered, ‘Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whose the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the property time?  It will be good for that servant whose the master finds doing so when he returns.  Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.  But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk.  The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.  He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 

The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows.  But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.  From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’"

Again, when Jesus returns and sees how we have stewarded the Earth, which steward will we be?  The faithful one who has been about His work, caring for His creation?  Or the unfaithful one who is caught unaware?

We've been entrusted with much.  Told to be "fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."  Much is then expected of us.

And it's not to destroy it.

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