Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a Gatorade bottle being placed on the ground through the cracked driver’s door of a running Honda Passport. I witnessed the sequence of a pulled back hand, a closed-door and the appearance of backup lights indicating the exit of an individual apparently ignorant of what it means to be a proper steward of the earth.
“Are you really going to litter like that?”, I asked.
“It was his bottle,” she responded, pointing to someone in the back seat.
Somewhat dissatisfied with her answer and noticing three other pupils, I asked again.
“Are you really going to litter like that?”
“No,” she said embarrassingly picking up the bottle.
This entire conversation occurred in the parking lot of Redamak’s in New Buffalo, on the shores of Lake Michigan. I flew to the area to attend meetings at Willow Community Church 25 miles northwest of Chicago. I had just finished having dinner with friends who live in the area when I exited the restaurant and headed to the back of the building where the main parking lot is situated. Those who know me know that I’m no environmentalist in the political sense of that word. However, I do believe God expects us to exercise proper stewardship of the world.
God is the Creator who loves and cares for nature, but not over His love and care for humanity. Man, above all created things, has been given stewardship responsibilities over the earth. After the debacle in the garden, enmity developed between man and nature. As a result, Adam was forced to exploit his physical environment to survive. This is one of the many effects of sin.
The Christ-follower’s view of the environment needs to be garnered as God intended it. Understand that the natural flora in which God placed Adam required no exploitation for him to survive; everything for sustenance was provided. Genesis 1:28 teaches us, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.” The words, ‘subdue’ and ‘rule’ were given to Adam before he sinned and contextually cannot give us permission to abuse and distort nature. On the contrary, the context promotes stewardship.
Biblical stewardship is probably best illustrated with the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). The scriptural definition of stewardship is caring for someone else’s property with the goal of improving that property. So subduing and ruling, with regard to the environment, mean caring for God’s property as God’s chosen steward, thereby making it better. We are to intelligently manage the resources God has given us, using all diligent care to preserve and protect them.
The Bible also teaches that God did not create nature primarily for man’s use. The earth and everything in it are God’s and for His good pleasure (Psalm 24:1). Throughout scripture, God demonstrates that He personally cares for nature and finds absolute joy in His creation (Psalm 104:10-14).
As followers of Christ, we should be known as good and proper stewards of God’s creation. Begin today subduing the earth as God intended – as a diligent steward. Rule over all created things, as a conscientious steward. This was God’s expectation for Adam and subsequently, it is God’s expectation for us.
Praying for you.