Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus

Christian environmentalism

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One of my New Year’s resolution for 2011 was to read the Bible in a year. I’ve really been getting into these YouVersion Bible plans over the past year, and getting in the habit of going through some of these 30-day/90-day plans was practice for the big marathon of going through it in a year.

Well, that resolution crashed and burned spectacularly on January 2 when I didn’t read the Bible the day before. I apparently couldn’t even stop long enough to start the plan on the right day. I started on January 5 and then had to back-date the plan to get the calendar year.

And then, I finally started reading the two plans I selected (13 days later). I partially blame this on the fact that my iPod Touch no longer picks up a wi-fi signal unless I’m standing directly on top of the router with one leg in the air and I am pointing due north. YouVersion only lets you access your plan online so they can keep you on schedule.

Anyway, one of the plans I am reading is the Life Application Study Bible® Devotion. It’s a good one for me to read in the morning, because it has a Scripture, a short paragraph devotion, and then usually a question at the end that I can think about during the morning (at least, that’s the idea). The heavy-lifting Bible plan is the one I do later in the day or at night, the Life Journal Reading Plan.

Anyway, this passage from last week was interesting:

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”—Genesis 1:28 (NLT)

To “reign over” something is to have absolute authority and control over it. God has ultimate rule over the earth, and he exercises his authority with loving care. When God delegated some of his authority to the human race, he expected us to take responsibility for the environment and the other creatures that share our planet. We must not be careless and wasteful as we fulfill his charge. God was careful in how he made this earth. We must not be careless in how we take care of it.

With all this coverage recently of birds falling out of the sky recently, this reminded me of an ecology class that Erika took in college. It was the first time I had ever heard of a Biblical interpretation of environmentalism. I think because being a Christian is interpreted by society as also being Republican, which we all know is the party of big business polluters who also hate animals, we don’t get a chance to necessarily explain what we believe.

If you believe in a God who created every living thing on Earth, I think you have to realize not only the infinite power of such a God, but also the wisdom behind all those living things. Within animals, He created defense mechanisms, feeding methods, environmental protection …  still trying to figure out the duck-billed platypus.

Anyway, we need to be careful and mindful of protecting what God has created, but that also doesn’t mean that we exalt the creating as being as high as or higher than the Creator. It does mean that we shouldn’t kill or destroy God’s creation indiscriminately, but I know several hunters who praise God every winter that they are able to fill a freezer full of food for the rest of the year to feed their families.

Do you see Christians as environmentalists… true stewards of what God has created around us? We need to be responsible for its care, yet cognizant that it has also been given to us as a blessing to use.

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