By Jim Jewell and Rusty Pritchard, co-founders, FLOURISH
More and more, Christians are confronted with the challenges of environmental stewardship–taking care of God’s creation in a balanced, biblically informed way.
True creation care must by inspired not by politics or trendiness, but by the teaching of scripture, deep traditions of the church, and even practices and values of our parents and grandparents. In caring for creation we can strengthen our families and our churches, and we can give our evangelism and discipleship efforts more focus and effectiveness.
Here’s our Top Ten List for why we American Christians should be good environmental stewards:
#10. As Christians we are called to be the very best citizens, seeking the good of the city where we find ourselves (Jer. 29:7). Making cities more liveable is part of seeking the common good, whether that is working for more sidewalks, safer streets, or greener buildings.
#9. We are commanded to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our heart of compassion drives us to help create sustainable economies that provide good jobs and a healthy environment.
#8. Conserving energy reduces our dependence on foreign oil. And our reliance on oil makes us dependent on undemocratic, despotic foreign regimes that restrict the religious liberty of their peoples, and threaten the stability of democratic allies.
#7. Pollution has become a serious life issue. Right now one in every six babies is born with harmful mercury levels in their blood. Do we really want a world where expectant mothers have to avoid many kinds of fish, and where our kids can’t eat the fish they catch, because of mercury pollution?
#6. Missionaries all over the world know that the people they serve need an understanding of how to live on the land, maintain productive harvests, and assure sufficient healthy water. Missionaries already connect creation care and people care.
#5. When we are transformed rather than conformed to the world, our lives are less damaging to the world around us. Practices such as honoring the Sabbath and making it a day of rest, dampening our consumerism, and increasing family time are radical environmental actions!
#4. Energy-saving changes mean churches and families can save money, which can in turn be used for the kingdom. Prestonwood Baptist Church, a megachurch in Plano, Texas, did a major energy overall and saved more than $1 million on utilities and water.
#3. Creation care is essential to our witness to a watching world. Many of our unchurched neighbors care about the environment, and when our actions promote a healthier environment, they reconsider what the gospel is doing in our lives.
#2. The creation itself testifies to all mankind about God’s attributes (Romans 1:20). We dare not allow our actions to diminish that witness.
And the #1 reason the church should make environmental stewardship a primary concern: God told us to. In the creation story God puts man in the Garden to tend and keep it (Gen. 2:15). That responsibility continues to today.
A recent Barna poll indicates that 90 percent of evangelicals in America would like to see Christians do more to care for God’s creation. For too long we have allowed liberal messengers of the environmental message and contentious government policy discussions to paralyze our faithfulness in creation care.
Churches need to stand astride the unhealthy chasm between those who prescribe only political solutions and those who would do nothing. In our new ministry, Flourish, we will offer biblical solutions for individuals, families, and churches, training and teaching resources, hands-on project guides, and connections to churches and ministries who are already experiencing growth and deeper discipleship by making creation care a part of their work. One way to connect is at the Flourish National Church Leaders’ Conference on Creation Care, May 13-15, at CrossPointe church in metro Atlanta.
Environmental problems, like all others, are the result of sin. The only complete solution will be found in the life-changing, sin-conquering power of knowing Jesus Christ and in living the new life he brings. The Christian church bears this truth and, rather than being the tail-end of environmental care, can be the best hope for real progress.