If we were to take our cues primarily from the media, we'd naturally believe that environmentalism is, at heart, a political issue—and a heated one at that. We'd assume that it's a secular vs. "Christian" issue. We'd accept that if we fall within one particular political camp, we ought to avoid—maybe even reject—anything that smacks of green.
But of course, as Christians, we don't build our lives upon the shifting sands of media messages or opinionated shock-jocks. We build our lives and our values upon the solid foundation of God's Word. In Scripture, we find a clear and unambiguous message about planet Earth and how we ought to relate to it.
God's World . . . God's Call
We discover first and foremost that this entire world is God's. God made it, and it belongs to him (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 24:1). God is glorified by it (Psalm 19:1). God reveals himself through it (Romans 1:20). God sustains it (Colossians 1:17). And God's ultimate plan is to redeem and restore it (Revelation 21:1-2).
And while God is doing all this creating, sustaining, and revealing, he has also given us a job to do. The very first calling he had for the very first human was "to tend and watch over" the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). Earlier in Genesis, God tasks humanity with this expansive purpose: to "reign over" and "govern" the planet—the animal life, the plants and habitats, the natural resources God made (Genesis 1:26, 28). Various Scripture translations add nuance to our understanding of this God-given task: to "rule" (NIV), to "have dominion," and "subdue" (KJV).
Unfortunately, we can make the grave theological error of viewing this job through the lens of human power, finding license in Genesis 1 for taking, hoarding, spending, wasting, harming, degrading, and even destroying earth's resources and plant and animal life. But if we understand Genesis 1:26-28 properly, in context, we see this task of "governing" linked directly with language about being made in God's image. Thus our governance of earth's resources ought to reflect God's character rather than human self-centeredness.
Sounds Good, But . . .
The biblical case for environmental stewardship sounds great in principle, but in practice it can seem expensive and complicated. After all, what about the higher price of organic food, hybrid cars, energy-efficient appliances, and light bulbs? And isn't it easier to just toss everything in the trash rather than have to sort recyclables? It seems like a lot of work to make one's home energy efficient. Can't I just live life as normal?