Pastor John, what is the Christian’s responsibility to creation? If the Apostle Peter says this world will burn up, why should Christians care about creation today?
There are different approaches for justifying serious, concerned care for creation. One is to draw on a theology of dominion found in Genesis 1. We are created to fill the earth and subdue it. Man should govern it, and control it, and use it for good purposes. God has given him man a dominion, a responsibility right in the very beginning of the Bible not to misuse the earth, but to care for it.. God delights in the nature that hHe has made. If God delights in it, who are we not to delight in it and not to and take care of it?
Love Your Neighbor’s Earth as Your Own
But ultimately, if you were to ask me: Why do you recycle, or own a smaller carbon footprint, or, and buy a non-gas-guzzling car? Why do you make little efforts to try to be active in creation care? The answer is in Matthew 22:39: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The person who says, “according to you, it is all going to burn up, so why should we care for it?” is like the person who says, “my house is going to burn down in 30 years, so I am not going to paint it tomorrow.” It is not loving towards your kids. If you would like your kids to have your house someday, you don’t let the final destruction of your house keep you from taking care of it now. That is just nonsense, and so it is with the world.
It is better to emphasize not that the world is going to be burned up, but that the world is going to be remade. I think that passage in 2 Peter 3:10 does not mean burning to destruction, but burning in refinement, and that the new heavens and the new earth are in continuity with this heaven and this earth. But what really cuts it with me is, do you love people? Do you love the people that are going to drink the water when you are pouring the garbage into the river?
I am thinking of Kenya right now — and we have good friends who are in creation care in Kenya, and they bemoan the deforestation and the slash and burn approach towards farming that is ruining all kinds of futures for people. It is beautiful land. Learning how to manage the farming so that the land is not destroyed for the coming generations is just loving your neighbor as you love yourself.
What About Godless Creation Care?
How big of a tragedy is it for someone to care for creation, to protect wildlife, or protect a forest, but to not see the beauty of God in that creation?
Well, for them those people themselves, it is an infinite tragedy, because if you don’t know God, you lose everything. For the world, it is their unbelieving efforts are something that God will turn for good. I mean if they preserve parks and clean water and natural habitats, many people are hopefully going to benefit the way they ought to benefit. But Still, it is tragic for the person who is engaged in that, or any other good deed, for that matter, without doing it for Christ’s sake because God made us to do everything we do for his glory, in dependence on his power, and in love for his Son. When we try to do right things without any dependence on Christ or for Christ’s glory, we are contradicting the very reason for which we are made.