God cares for his creation
If you read Genesis 1 and 2, you get the sense that God cares for his creation. God made the world and he loves the world. Certainly, God loves people most of all, but God loves his creation. He takes care of it and provides for it. God gives the animals food, the plants rain, and keeps the stars and planets spinning. God is an active agent in caring for his creation. As a result, creation responds in worship to the coming of the Lord.
Psalm 98:7-9 Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the earth and all living things join in.
Let the rivers clap their hands in glee!
Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the Lord,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
People manage God’s creation
Humans are made in the image of God. This is why humans are more important than the rest of creation. And it is because humans are made in God’s image that we have this awesome responsibility toward creation.
Genesis 1:28 Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.
This is God’s command for us to take charge over his creation. We are told to “govern” and “reign” over the earth. Other translations use words like “subdue” and “have dominion” over the earth. We can think of this as a call to manage, domesticate, and cultivate the earth. It gives humans permission to create cities, build dams, and even clear forests in the name of human prosperity.
Yet, creation is always viewed as existing for God’s good pleasure. Creation brings glory to God. Therefore, we have a responsibility to treat creation in a way that brings God glory.
The hope of this earth
Many Christians misinterpret Genesis 1:28 to mean that we can do whatever we want to the world. This verse has been used to legitimize nearly every type of ecological catastrophe that humans can create. Some Christians rationalize, “If the earth is going to be destroyed anyway, why bother saving it.”
This attitude, however, doesn’t reflect a Christian worldview. In fact, it comes from a certain type of Platonic philosophy that teaches that the physical world isn’t really important. The only things that are truly important are spiritual or non-physical. This is a sub-Christian concept, but sadly it has influenced Christian thinking for centuries.
Simply put, God has a wonderful future for his physical creation.
Romans 8:19-22 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
This passage teaches that creation, just like humanity is cursed because of sin. Humanity brought the curse of sin upon itself, but the creation was cursed by sin through no fault of its own. Creation, the Bible says, just like humanity, is awaiting Jesus’ return and the end of death and decay.
And creation looks forward to the day when the curse of sin is lifted. It’s at this point that God will create the New Heavens and the New Earth that will be our physical, eternal home. Once again, God’s creation will perfectly give him glory.
Living for the future today
When we understand that God has a plan for this world, just like he has a plan for us, it should make us think about the way that we treat God’s creation. Jesus teaches us to live on this earth like we will live in heaven. One way to do this is to uphold the dignity of God’s creation.
We are managers and stewards of God’s planet that gives him glory. Yes, we rule the world and use its resources for our needs, but we do so in a way that acknowledges our Creator and the dignity of the things he creates. We are still called to care for the animals and cultivate the earth, just as Adam was. We need to use human technology in a way that works in harmony with God’s creation, not merely destroys it.
Creation is meant to give glory to God, not to you and me. So we should aim to treat creation in such a way that we won’t be guilty of robbing God’s glory.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Are you someone who enjoys doing activities outdoors? How do you most enjoy creation around you?
- Have you ever thought about how God feels about the environment? What did you learn from this article?
- Read Psalm 19:1-3. Have you ever seen the glory of God as you looked at creation? Have you ever seen parts of the world where his glory was diminished because of how people have treated his creation?
- What are some practical steps you can take to make sure you are caring for God’s creation well? What are some ways you already do care for creation?
- Do you think some environmental advocates go “too far”, or do you think Christians need to advocate more for the environment based on God’s glory? Explain your answer.
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.