A Reason to be Green
A spiritual reflection in response to COP27
When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve's decision to disobey God, it did not only damage the connection between humanity and the Creator. Nature that was once perfectly conceived by God to be in harmony with human beings entered a state of entropy too.
The account of Creation and the Fall in the first chapters of Genesis show us how the ground of the earth was cursed: it would produce thorns and thistles and would no longer yield its crops without much hard labour, Genesis 3: 17-18. Soon after, the first animal was slain as a symbol of the great atonement that Jesus Christ would provide in His sacrifice. Ever since, nature and its living creatures have suffered the consequences of the decisions of mankind in pursuit of daily life and the acquisition of wealth.
Massive deforestation, burning fossil fuels to generate energy, unsustainable construction, non-compassionate wide-scale farming, and a wide range of sources of pollution have destroyed ecosystems, extinguished species, and altered the balance of the environment in such a way that the earth is experiencing the consequences of its own destruction. According to NASA, currently there is too much carbon dioxide being released in the atmosphere, a 45 per cent increase since the beginning of the industrial age.
The incredible resilience of the earth's atmosphere is slowly giving way and human beings are experiencing the consequences of the disruption of the carbon cycle, leading to the rise of global temperatures, and having a ricochet effect on the precipitation cycle which in turn leads to an increase in droughts and floods. In addition, there is growing evidence that climate change could provide the opportunity for some severe thunderstorms to form.
Despite this sombre reality there is a ray of hope in the Bible that Christians should remember. Just after nature underwent its first great devastation in the Flood, because of the behaviour of men, God does something extraordinary. In His covenant with Noah, God promises to him and his descendants. God also made a covenant with the earth and its living creatures. In Genesis 9:8-13, the Bible says, "then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth."
And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth."
In the Bible God enters in a covenant relationship to save. So here we have God's declaration of intention to save and restore the earth. When Jesus Christ offered His life as a ransom for humanity not only was He carrying the sins of human beings, but the curse of the earth exemplified by the crown of thorns on His bruised forehead. Isaiah 65:25 and Isaiah 66:22 refers to such a time when the old hostilities will be reconciled between living creatures and all will inhabit under a new heaven and the new earth.
According to Timothy Keller, pastor of the Redeemer Presbyterian church in New York "there are no better intellectual, moral, and spiritual resources for a passion for caring for creation than you can find in Christianity" and this is because we are bound by the loving covenant of God's redemption.
Until God's final restoration, God Himself cares for the earth and all the animals in its turn, nature glorifies God through its existence. This cycle of care and praise is beautifully sung in Psalm 65:5-13, Psalm 104:14-21, Psalm 19:1 and Psalm 96:11-12. As Christians we should do our part to care for the environment and to emulate the loving care of God towards the earth and its creatures not because of the warning in Revelation 11:18 where God promises to destroy those that destroy the earth, but because as human beings we share with the earth and the animals the immense gift of salvation through Jesus Christ our Maker and Saviour.
The Atmosphere: Getting a Handle on Carbon Dioxide – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet
Why might we get more winter storms? - University of Plymouth
Tim Keller on the massive spiritual resources in Christianity for creation care. — Flourish