Care for a Fallen World By Jon Lewis
What your response to a world that is fallen?
How should we steward a world that is fallen? It’s one thing to preach Creation Care where there is blatant human abuse of the environment, such as water pollution, toxic emissions, or oil spills. But what does it mean to be a steward of our world when Creation itself causes the devastation, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and lightning strikes that spark forest fires?
Enroute during a road trip from California to our home in Spokane, Washington, my wife and I passed through areas of the Shasta and Klamath national forests that had been devastated by wildfires just a few months before. It was shocking and so sad to see the extent of the total annihilation of all plant life in some of the most verdant forests of America. Even Mt. Shasta looked somber, its pristine white glaciers covered with the dark gray soot from those same fires. At one place along our route, however, I was impressed to see workmen spraying wide borders on both sides of the road with what appeared to be mulch and grass seed.
“Wow,” I commented to my wife, “they must be attempting to reseed the burned area to get something growing again as quickly as possible.”
A Clear Mandate
When God gave Adam the mandate in Genesis 1:28 to subdue and rule over all He had created, He certainly knew that soon it would become a fallen world, one that would also produce thorns, thistles, and tsunamis. Even after Adam and Eve’s tragic decision to disobey their Creator, God restates the mandate of caring for the earth, except now He adds the stark reality that working the ground will mean “painful toil” and “by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food . . .” (Gen 3:17-19).
(1) With a sense of obedience.
We should be committed to Creation Care, not because our efforts are going to make or keep our world perfect, but simply because God told us, His chosen stewards of this planet, to do so. It’s easy to think that there is little point in working hard at something over which we don’t have ultimate control. But isn’t this also true of our responsibility in stewarding relationships with other people, such as our spouse or our children? Our stewarding efforts of encouragement and guidance will never make them perfect, but that doesn’t mean we should cease our responsibility to be the partner or mentor they may need. So also with the environment. We need to do our best to fulfill our Creation Care mandate regardless of the ultimate outcome—simply out of obedience to our Master.
(2) With a readiness to endure hardship.
Living in a fallen world, by definition, means facing pain and trial. The New Testament is full of reminders about this, but also matches them with ready exhortations to endure through them as a means of learning, building character, and becoming strong. If it works for building character and spiritual maturity, it should also work for building greater understanding and wisdom in how better to provide Creation Care. We should steward our fallen planet despite how challenging that task might be.
(3) With a commitment to renewal.
If there is one quality of God that repeatedly is illustrated in Scripture, it is His heart for renewal. Israel’s history of rebellion and betrayal is constantly matched by God’s readiness to restore and renew those who are repentant. Without question, our Master is a God of second chances. As His stewards, we therefore need to imitate this same commitment to renewal in our stewarding of our environment. Just as sure as our own personal loyalty to God will falter from time to time, this fallen world will surely demonstrate its tendency toward self-destruction. As planet caretakers, we need to simply accept this and follow our Master’s example with a commitment to restore and renew—again and again.
I doubt those workmen beside the road were being motivated by a biblical mandate for their reseeding project; but nonetheless, they were demonstrating the work of gardeners. I thank God for their reminder to me that, despite the devastation we will surely see across our fallen planet, there are always good reasons for God’s faithful stewards to care for His Creation.
Jon Lewis is a Senior Associate for Partnership Advancement with OC International and focuses on encouraging global Christian leaders towards greater ministry effectiveness. With over 40-years of experience, he also served as a MAF mission pilot in Africa and CEO of Partners International.
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