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Faith in the environment

On Sunday 9th March, Sir Ghillean Prance, science director of the Eden Project spoke at our morning services on a Christian response to the environment. Here are a few of the points from his talk.The topic of ‘the environment’ is more broadly the subject of God’s creation, which belongs to Him. “The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains.” (Psalm 24:1). However, human sin has damaged not only our relationship with God but also his creation. “The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants, for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. The wine dries up, the vine languishes…” (Isaiah 24:5–7)

So why should Christians do anything about it?

The Bible teaches stewardship of creation

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15) Literally, God’s command to Adam is to ‘serve’ and ‘protect’ the garden. God repeats this decree to Noah after the flood: “Now behold I myself do establish my covenant with you and your descendents after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.” (Genesis 9:9–10) “With you and with all living creatures” is repeated six times in verses 10,12,13,15,16 and 17, giving a clear sense that God’s care is also for all the creatures of his creation.

“For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild animals may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive grove.” Exodus 23:10–11

It is the poor who suffer the most

Sadly it is those in the poorest areas that are most affected by our abuse of God’s creation. This demands a profound response from us as Christian believers.

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17) “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honours Him.” (Proverbs 14:31)

With this in mind, what are our priorities?

The cost of supplying education to all children
The cost of US spending on cosmetics
$8 Billion/year
$6 Billion/year
The cost of provision of water and sanitation for all
The cost of spending on ice cream in Europe
$11 Billion/year
$9 Billion/year
The cost of provision of basic health for all
The cost of spending on cat food in USA & Europe
$13 Billion/year
$17 Billion/year
The cost of elimination of malnutrition through improved agriculture
The Cost of slimming aid to counter obesity and over-eating in the developed world
$40 Billion/year
$40 Billion/year

Source: UN Human Development Report 1998

It is Christ’s Creation

Ultimately everything is for God’s glory through the Lord Jesus Christ. “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible. Whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created by Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16)

What can we do? – Actions for individuals

• Green energy in homes, offices and churches (www.energyhelpline.com)
• Write to politicians about environmental issues
• Maximum recycling possible
• Buy food locally, reduce food miles
• Grow your own food
• Use low energy light bulbs and appliances
• Install solar water heating
• Turn off the lights and air conditioners when not in use
• Don’t use stand-by lights
• Install photovoltaic energy system on roof
• Travel less and holiday nearer to home
• Share transport and use public transport
• Compensate for carbon used to travel (www.climatestewards.co.uk)
• Compost all organic waste
• Pray for the health of God’s creation
• Make your church an ecocongregation

Useful Christian organizations to find out more

www.creationcare.org (Evangelical environmental Network)
www.ausable.org (Ausable Institute of Environmental Studies)
www.jri.org.uk (The John Ray Initiative)