Many of my friends in the evangelical movement think “creation care” is a ruse for public policies such as “cap and trade” taxes or dismantling nuclear energy systems or perhaps even worse, making common cause with “tree-huggers” and pantheists. For many of my friends in the evangelical movement, the earth exists as humanity’s plaything. Many of my friends cite Genesis 1.28: “…Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it…”
The Hebrew word in Genesis 1.28 that gets translated as “subdue” or “master” or “have dominion” is a pretty strong word. It does mean to rule over a thing. To command. Humanity does not stand alongside the remainder of creation as loosely equal. Rather, we stand at the pinnacle of creation, as the last and the best of a very good creative process, and like the Kings of Israel and Judah, who were endowed by God to subdue or master or have dominion over God’s people (yes, the same Hebrew word is used), we stand responsible for creation, as surely as the Kings of the Old Testament stood before God responsible for the people. God did not hand creation over to us as a plaything for us to break like the toy in a box of Cracker Jacks. God made us in His image, AND responsible to Him for the rest of His creation. Indeed, the first command God gives to humanity (Genesis 2.15) is a command to care for the Garden of Eden.
Other friends of mine in the evangelical movement suggest that Jesus didn’t care much for the environment. After all, when asked point-blank by his opponents what was central to His faith, Jesus said the greatest commandment was, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment (cf. Matthew 22.37-38).” And for good measure, Jesus added (cf. Matthew 22.39-40), “And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. All of the law and prophets (i.e., the Old Testament) hand on these two commandments.”
It seems that if we do not care for creation, if we use and abuse it wantonly, for our personal gain only, and not for the commonwealth of all, we have a hard time saying we love God and we love our neighbor.
commonGood is not an environmental organization with a political platform for you, dear reader, to endorse (although you can like us on Facebook!). We are people of faith and good will, inspired by a vision to form and sustain relationships where neighbors are nourished, children are loved, the arts flourish, and creation is cherished.
Because doing so would please God.
In this issue of commonGood’s electronic newsletter, we are trying something new. Using technology (always a dangerous thing), we are inviting you to dig into our newsletter and read that which interests you, instead of cramming your inbox with a huge email. Tell us if you like (or don’t like) the change.
Jeff Wright is the Executive Director of commonGood and Pastor of Madison Street Church.