So, I'll admit that "going green" used to seem really silly to me. Not only silly, but obviously connected to a godless philosophy and certainly not evangelical, conservative, or one of God's priorities. (Oops!) , I'll admit- God changed my mind about this slowly, in part because I brought "political baggage" with me to a lot of issues. It's a good reminder to me that Christianity- and Jesus, for that matter- don't belong in a little box titled, "Conservative" or "Republican" because Jesus isn't a politician. He is Lord. And here is one way some more "politically liberal" Christians (gasp!) helped me see more clearly the Jesus of the Bible.
Genesis 1. God made everything from moonlight to mammoths, and what did He say about it? "It is good." He made man in His image- His representatives on earth, His image-bearers, His royal sons and daughters. What task does He give us? "God blessed them and said, 'fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over every living thing!" Obviously we're special to God in all creation! But here's where I went wrong with Genesis- I had interpreted "dominion" as "we get to do whatever the heck we want with the rest of creation. If that's turn it into one big land fill, that's our God-given right!!"
But in the very next chapter of Genesis, there's more to be said about dominion! (I don't get to interpret it however I want.) "The Lord put the man in the garden to work it and take care of it." I'm assuming that "take care of it" doesn't mean wasting it or treating it with utter indifference or disrespect. I'm assuming that doesn't mean doing whatever is convenient, even if it's poor stewardship. I'm assuming the Garden of Eden was a pretty spectacular and holy place (unlike my trash can, which is full of things I could recycle or even re-use; and unlike my fridge, which is full of food that I'll throw away in a week when it's moldy because I keep buying new food I want to eat instead.)
A friend of mine once said to me, "if your Dad was a great artist, obviously he'd care more for you than he does for his paintings. But would you ever take that to mean you could just go and throw mud on his work? No! You could be confident that his love for you far outweighs his love for his paintings, but you'd love his paintings too, and honor them as a legitimate expression of your father's heart."
OK. Sure. So Genesis is all well and good...but it's a really old story and it's easy to romanticize. "That's just how things were before the fall. Things are different now." But that's not all, and here's what really got me! Jesus didn't just die to redeem sinners. Paul mentions the redemption of all things.
Romans 8:19-21, "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God (that's us! Those redeemed and adopted through Christ's death!)...For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God."
And listen to what else we get to look forward to. Revelation 21:4-5, "He who was seated on the throne said, "Behold! I am making all things new!" This is the same passage that talks about wiping away every tear from our eyes and removing all pain- pain we know so very deeply and keenly now! We know we'll still be "us" when we are with Jesus, but we'll also be new. We'll be free of the pain we've carried. The weight will be lifted, the burden gone. The tears erased. Death itself will be but a shadow when the corruptible puts on the incorruptible. All of creation is a part of this. The curse and its breaking effects extended to all of creation (I talked about that some here). And so the redemption of Jesus will also extend to all of creation, as He takes back in fullness what was always His.
God cares about physical creation. My body is a part of that- He cares about my bad back and I can eagerly await the fullness of the redemption of my broken body. I can also eagerly await the renewal of the rest of creation, and my bad back can remind me of the joy that is to come! It was humbling for me to realize that God cares about how I treat non-human things. He called me to steward all that reflects His heart, and to be about what He is about- the redemption of all that is His.
So this is good news for those of us already following Jesus, because it means we get to be about what He is about. And it's good news for you if you don't yet know Jesus but have found environmental concerns very close to your heart. It means that you have (unknowingly, perhaps!) come into contact with one of God's very own passions and you've reflected His very character. You can be about what Jesus is about too. Let's run to Him, whether for the first time or the ten-thousandth.