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Environmentally Conscious Christianity
Photo: Tom Bech
“In the Beginning…”
Three simple words begin one of the most influential and controversial books in history. Just the mere mention of these three words will cause some to become excited, some defensive, and others to shut down. Wars have been fought over their implications, families and friends have been divided by their understanding, and churches throughout history have been torn apart over their debate.
The Bible has been at the center of many conflicts. History has been shaped, and often disrupted, by what different people believe the Bible is saying. However, somewhere in the midst of all the arguing, much of the Christian community has neglected to start the conversation where it should, in the beginning.
The first two chapters of Genesis speak of how creation began. These two chapters serve as the opening to our understanding of God, our planet, each other, and ourselves. Both chapters are loaded with deep implications for what it means to live the life God intends. Neglecting the importance of Genesis one and two creates many misconceptions. Where you believe a story begins, will shape what the story you are telling even is; often times, the Church begins its understanding of the Christian message by starting in Genesis three.
Chapter three of Genesis speaks of mankind’s rebellion against God; it is the introduction of sin. When we begin the story in Genesis three, our message becomes about the removal of sin, and salvation becomes reduced to nothing more than an answer to how one avoids Hell. However, salvation is about more than just a ticket to Heaven. Salvation is the answer to everything, and the introduction of a new creation that is bursting forth, here and now, and reconciling the world with God’s peace.
Christianity is God working through us, by the same power that brought the world into existence and raised Jesus from the grave (Romans 8:11), to bring about His plan to reconcile us with Him, His creation, and humanity as a whole. To begin to grasp this, we must start with an understanding of how God intended things to be. We must start “in the beginning.”
Though recently there has been a shift in focus, environmental issues have typically been ignored by the Church. Any conversations about environmental issues, such as global warming, have been passed off as either myth or of no importance. The focus placed on evangelistic efforts has made the argument that anything outside of one’s eternal security is not worth the attention of Church efforts. However, in a view of Christianity that begins in Genesis one and two, there is a drastically different understanding of our world that needs to be discovered.
In the Beginning, man was created in a garden.
In the second chapter of Genesis, during the account of man’s creation, it says,
[quote]“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”[/quote]
–Genesis 2:15 (NIV)
One of God’s plans for mankind is that mankind should care for the world we have been placed in. There is a vital need for the Church to reclaim an understanding of God’s way as one that includes the proper care and ordering of our world.
The exploitation of our planet is a deeply spiritual issue, which is rooted all the way back to our very creation.
There are drastic implications to our ignoring the issues that continue to weigh upon creation itself. Millions face starvation and death as a result of climate patterns, which are the direct result of the abuse of nature and the environment.
There are people suffering because of those who feel entitled to treat the planet as their own, personal source of need fulfillment.
This is not the proper care for God’s garden.
Mankind has taken God’s blessing to “rule the earth and subdue it”(Genesis 1:28) and abused it to become power-hungry dictators attempting to reign over creation as THEIR kingdom, rather than using our God-given authority to order creation in such a way that no one is left in need.
With a Genesis one and two understanding of our world, poverty is no longer an abstract idea, but the direct result of our neglect to care for and order our world through the use of a self-sacrificing love.
There is no excuse for many to be suffering and starving while a few have excess.
It is time that the Church reclaims its God-instilled responsibility to care for the creation it has been blessed with. It is time that the environmental issues plaguing our world be understood as an offspring of the selfish nature which drives us from being what we were created to be; the same selfishness, apparent in Genesis three, which resulted in mankind’s original rebellion from God’s plan for creation.
Our world must no longer be seen as a temporary holding place (from which we wait to evacuate), but as a blessing that is the bararight of all mankind to share.
It is time to reconcile with the planet itself, care for it, and properly partake in a way that is better for everyone and everything.
It is time that we see a more environmentally conscious Christianity as an aspect of taking part in the Kingdom of God today.
 “Bara” is the Hebrew word, used in Genesis one and two, which means “to create.” It is the word used to speak of God’s “creating” the world and man from nothing. Its implication is that “something” is brought into existence where there was only “nothing” before. I use the term “bararight’, because mankind’s role in creation is not something we are born into; it is a privilege, honor, and responsibility that is derived from the very beginning of time. It is not something we deserve, but “something” placed (created) within us, by God, from “nothing” we were or have done.
About Matt WellsMatt Wells is a born-and-raised Floridian, from Lake Worth. He currently lives in Florida with his wife, Heather, their baby daughter, Bella, and their dog, Marley. He is the author of "Fix Me, Love Them: Christianity as it Should Be", and can be found on Twitter (www.twitter.com/FixMeLoveThem), and Facebook (www.facebook.com/FixMeLoveThem). He can also be reached at FixMeLoveThem@gmail.com
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Verse of the Week
––1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV)