The annual celebration of our Lord’s resurrection is near at hand and I cannot think of a greater reason for Christians to devote themselves to the cause of saving the earth from the destructive activity of selfish and short-sighted men. The Bible teaches us that though the world is marred by sin and cursed by death, it is still the creation of God. Moreover, it teaches us that God’s ultimate goal for us is not some disembodied existence where we are only cognizant of other minds but a super-physical, real and substantial “new heavens and earth” that will be the restoration and glorification of this world we now live in.Christ was not raised as a spirit or ghost. When He entered the room where the disciples were hiding from the authorities, He said, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:39)
The Bible says that the whole creation eagerly awaits the Day of Resurrection so that creation too may experience freedom from the curse of suffering and death due to man’s sin. (Romans 8:18-23) Salvation is for the whole of creation and not just for mankind. Christ’s resurrection is the first installment and assurance of this most wonderful and blessed future. Some would conclude that because we look forward to a new heavens and earth, we can treat with disdain this present creation. This is very faulty logic. On those grounds we could just as well be cavalier about sin in this life because there will be no sin in the world to come! No, rather, just as we show our desire and worthiness to enter a future life without sin by our striving against sin in this life, so we show our desire and worthiness to enter a glorified and resurrected earth by caring for the earth we now live in.
God will not allow those to enter Paradise who despoiled and polluted the earth during their time of probation. The book of Revelation tells us that God will “destroy those who destroy the earth.” (11:18)If we have been unfaithful in our use of this world’s riches (and that would include its natural resources), says Jesus, God will not entrust to us the far greater riches awaiting us in the “eternal dwellings”. (Luke 16:9-12) This world is, at it were, a training and proving ground for our life in the world to come. God gave to mankind generally and to each of us particularly, a beautiful little orb of blue in an infinite ocean of space,to take care of as a nursery for heavenly life. But we have done very poorly at it and much needs to be repented of and much work needs to be done to make up for past abuse and neglect.
Christians, more than any other kinds of people, should have a particular zeal and relish for this endeavor. We see nature not as the product of a mindless, purposeless and loveless random process, but as the creation of a glorious personal Being inspired by love. This makes nature infinitely more worthy of our admiration and care than the myth of godless Evolution. Each kind of plant and animal is the work of God, displaying in some way or other His wisdom, goodness and power. How can we bear to destroy them? Moreover, human beings were made to enjoy the rest of creation and perceive through it the glory of God. (Psalm 104; Romans 1:20)
Our souls are nourished and restored by beholding the works of the Lord. Human beings were never intended to live in an environment stripped of the beauty of God’s original handiwork. Our eyes need to feast on mountains, forests,rivers, lakes and oceans, sunsets and starry skies. We believe these sights, sounds, textures and smells feed not just a temporary collection of atoms but an immortal soul. The destruction of God’s creation works the ruin of man. It is no wonder, then, that the adversary of mankind is behind the destruction of our environment. He encourages the greed, blindness and selfishness that produce such destruction. If we oppose Satan then we must oppose his efforts to pollute and ruin God’s creation and mankind’s only home this side of heaven.
We have a wonderful prophecy in Hosea that indicates, prior to Christ’s glorious Second Advent, that there will be a wonderful restoration of harmony between mankind and creation. (2:14-23; compare verse 23 with Romans 9:25) This will be brought about by the conversion of the nations to Christ through the spread of the gospel. Of course, the ultimate restoration of creation will still awaits the coming of Christ but a substantial healing of the created order will take place before that blessed event. Therefore, the spread of the gospel should go hand in hand with efforts to heal the ravages of sin on the planet.
So Christian, what will you do to care for the earth? How you care for it is the measure of your love for God and desire to live in the new heavens and earth revealed by Christ’s resurrection from the dead.