Mention the words "save the environment" or "go green" and you probably picture these phrases coming from a tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippy with liberal tendencies. Rarely would your first impression be of an impassioned Christian. But God created this world, called it good, and charged us with caring for it, so we, as followers of Christ, should do what little each of us can to care for the world we live in.
In his popular book Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action, Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth says, "We exist in a living, created world in which the Bible tells us that God knows every scale on a fish, every hair on our head, and the flight of every sparrow. We are to aspire to all things godly; therefore, it would be wrong to go through life in an unthinking or uncaring way."
If that's the case, then we must consider these hard facts:
- Each year we place an estimated 121 million tons of waste in landfills, even though some of this waste will take centuries to decompose.
- Each year 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste are dumped into U.S. water.
- Around 30 million acres of lawn are routinely treated with lawn care chemicals, despite the fact that some chemicals commonly used on lawns have been associated with birth defects, mutations, and even cancer in laboratory animals.
- Studies have found that newborn babies carry around 200 chemicals in their bodies just after birth, some with the potential to be cancer causing.
- Nearly one-third of the honeybee colonies in the U.S. have disappeared, negatively affecting the pollination of many fruit, nut, and vegetable plants.
The truth is that God's creation is dying. Species of animals that he created no longer exist, and others, like the honeybees, are endangered and disappearing. Water that he provided to quench our thirst and meet our daily needs has become poisoned in some areas; we need not look any further than West Virginia's chemical spill for confirmation. Man-made chemicals are causing sickness and disease, and even killing children, adults, and animals. We, as appointed care-takers of God's creation, can no longer ignore these truths.
In Genesis 2:15, God charges men and women with caring for his creation, "The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it." He gave us dominion over all that grows and lives, but dominion does not equal exploitation. Yet, when we consider the facts above, many of the ways in which we have been treating his creation can only be seen as exploitation. We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that our actions have long-term consequences. We can continue to toss unwanted items into landfills, but even though decomposition may be a natural process, it takes time, and our consumption is moving at a speed much faster than nature's timeline.