The Scriptural Basis for Creation Care
The earth is the Lord’s! (Psalm 24:1)
Simple self-interest is one reason to care for creation. As creatures ourselves, our lives are dependent upon our fellow creatures and upon a properly functioning eco-system. But Christians have a reason beyond self-interest for caring for creation. The earth is not ours; it belongs to God. We love and care for creation because of our love for the Creator.
Praise God all creatures here below!
“Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!” sings the Psalmist (Psalm 150:6). From the music of the planets spinning deep in space, to the calls of the humpback whales deep in the oceans to the trills of the thrushes deep in the forests, all creation praises the maker. When we sing the doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise God all creatures here below!” we join our human voices to the whole chorus of creation that is already singing its praises to God. We care for fellow creatures so that they, with us, can continue to sing God’s praises.
The responsibility of humankind: “to till and to keep.”
God has given human beings a special responsibility to care for creation. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden to till it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). The Bible is wonderfully ambiguous at this point. Did God make the garden because humans needed a place to live? Or did God create humanity because the garden needed someone to care for it? The Hebrew verb to keep, “shamar,” is the same word in the Aaronic blessing with which we sometimes conclude our worship services: “May the Lord bless and keep you” (Numbers 6:24). We are to nurture, sustain, and care for creation the way God nurtures, sustains, and cares for us.
A God who saves humans and animals alike. (Psalm 36:6)
God’s promised redemption encompasses both the human and non-human creation. Isaiah’s vision of new heavens and a new earth included vineyards, wolves, lambs, and lions (Isaiah 65); the Apostle Paul wrote of creation waiting to be set free from its bondage (Romans 8:21); an early Christian hymn praises Jesus Christ, the one for whom and through whom all things were created and the one through whom God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things on earth and in heaven (Colossians 1:15-20). To seek to protect and care for the creatures God has made is to witness to God’s love for them and to acknowledge that they, with us, will share in God’s new creation.
We cannot by our own efforts, “save the earth.” Only God, who is the Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of all creation, can do that. But as Christians, we are expected to join God in that good work. In our homes, at our places of work, in our times of recreation, and in our congregations, we can begin to model that kind of love and care for the earth that God has for us and for all creation.