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Posts Tagged ‘earth’

Stewardship: God – Man – Earth *

Why are people so afraid about the end of the world? Well, it’s a matter of belief.

If we believe that our actions are the only determiner of the end (or saving) of the world, we will be crushed by the fearful responsibility. If we understand that the God who created the world also is in charge of its future, however, a whole different perspective resides in our minds and hearts.

When we take the teachings of the Bible seriously, we arrive at this worldview about the relationship of God, Man, and the Earth:

Stewardship Dominion 1

God is Creator and ruling King over all; mankind, made in His image, is created in a symbiotic relationship with earth, and given the charge to rule and cultivate it.

On the other hand, if we take a God-denying posture and believe that the physical universe is all there is, and that we somehow showed up as an evolved being with no special identity or place, then we’ll typically end up where many extreme-environmentalists go:

Stewardship Dominion 2

In this perspective, man is subordinate to the earth and the universe, and any stewardship is based on the idea of preserving the environment for future generations (surely not a bad motive, though incomplete).

This latter worldview is a pretty fearful place to live, actually. If you think it through, we, as a race, ultimately have no purpose (though our hearts tell us otherwise). As individuals, we are temporary specks without meaning or eternal identity (though our hearts tell us otherwise). And we’re told that we’re supposed to be subordinate to an environmental system and not disturb it (though our hearts, our behaviors, and our history show otherwise).

And, we are susceptible to all sorts of apocalyptic doomsday pronouncements about climate change, overpopulation, fossil fuels, and the like – because the earth is all we have and we’re screwing it up. We will be biased toward fear-doom because we do not see and embrace the God who over-rules all things. The God who understood perfectly well the man-earth dynamic when He created them together.

What we believe totally shapes our attitudes and our actions. God-denial leaves us empty and fearful, trying to rationalize a worldview that militates against our God-given instinct and conscience. A right posture of worship and obedience, however, grants us confidence tempered with realism – God is ultimately in charge, but we have a charge from Him to fulfill. And He is a profoundly generous, benevolent, and abundant King – an involved Ruler – which is the theme we’ll explore next week.

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* This brief devotional is part of a 12-week study on the topic: Being Stewards of God <— (outline). We’re on week 2, discussing the relationship of man to his planet. If you’d like to receive these posts in your inbox, just put your email address in the Email Subscription box up there on the right sidebar >

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Stewardship: God – Man – Earth *

How do you feel when you see pictures like this?

Stewardship Environment

If you’re like me, you feel a mix of both disgust and alarm.

Polluted water. Raped land. Filthy air (so bad in China that they have to use a huge digital screen to show what the sunrise WOULD look like that day).*

*correction – later reports make the correction that this digital billboard is used for promotional purposes, and happened to have this image on it. The air pollution problem in China, however, is extreme.

Why do we feel that way? If you take long enough, you can probably start listing out rational reasons, but let me suggest that we violently react at a visceral level because of a much simpler reason.

It’s not right.

Sure, we can muster up a bunch of bullet points about environmental damage and its impact on the present and future (and we should), but we are creatures of made-in-the-image-of-God instinct and conscience.

Ruining our environment is wrong.

And it really has nothing to do with some cold and mysterious logic projected from our DNA about how pollution may inhibit the passing on of our genes to future generations. These tortured efforts to explain basic human realities have no synchrony with what we simply KNOW to be true.

We know bad stewardship when we see it. And those who exploit (not manage) the earth for short-term gain are bad stewards, affecting us all. It’s a moral issue. Even if we don’t acknowledge that the ultimate offense is against God, in our heart of hearts, we still know that being care-less about the planet which was co-created with us and for us is….dare we say, evil?

Psalm 104 (do yourself a favor – read it through) shows us that God has a tender, caring heart toward His entire creation. “He established the earth on its foundations…He causes grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man, so that he may bring forth food from the earth…O Lord, how many are your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions…they all wait for You to give them their food in due season. You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good…” We instinctively understand that we are to have the same heart of care and benevolent management of this planet, and we grieve at the corruption that surrounds us, and is in us.

Sure, I hope to see my genes passed on (I have 5 boys, after all!), but that is hardly the driving motivation for being a good steward, nor is it the reason I feel grief at human sin leading to destructiveness.

It’s because God wired me to care about His created works. You, too.

Our instincts are far above those of mere animals. We think and feel morally. We are stewards. That’s in our DNA.

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* This brief devotional is part of a 12-week study on the topic: Being Stewards of God <— (outline). We’re on week 2, discussing the relationship of man to his planet. If you’d like to receive these posts in your inbox, just put your email address in the Email Subscription box up there on the right sidebar >

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Stewardship and My Office Window

Stewardship: God – Man – Earth *

I am looking out one of the windows in my office and, in the midst of all the snow covering everything, there are birds busily flying and hopping about.

They are here because my caring wife put food out for them.

MyOfficeWindow

Also, behind the red maple that holds our bird feeders, there are the glowing red berries of our winterberry bushes, which I planted years ago. They are near some birch trees and ornamental grasses that we’ve put in over the years.

To beautify the place.

Way back at the end of our property is a large stack of split wood, created when we cut up trees blown down by Hurricane Sandy a while back. For a while, the appearance of your yard was messed up by the destruction that occurred – but now, with planning and effort, things look much better again – and we have plenty of fuel for the fireplace.

That’s being a caretaker.

Whether it’s building stone walls, cutting grass, or planting vegetables <—(this is also called “feeding the wildlife”…grrrr!), when we borrow a home from God and the bank for a season, we generally feel a need to cultivate, maintain, and improve it.

I often have been found walking around the grounds of our home, envisioning improvements – some of which actually get carried out. Like many homeowners, my wife and I have invested countless hours and a fair amount of money trying to make our environment better-ordered and more pleasing.

We impose our rule and “subdue” our little tiny corner of the earth in a beneficial way. Even that section in the back that we decided should go back to being a more untamed meadow.

There is certainly a place for leaving large swaths of public land relatively wild, for the benefit of all of its inhabitants and visitors. But our stewardship involves active planning and management, not capitulation to whatever natural forces come our way.

We are to beneficially manage (though not abuse) the world to provide for ourselves and others, and to bring glory to God.

God filled the earth with resources and potential for that very reason. And He gave us creativity and a drive to rule and improve so that we would…do just that.

* This brief devotional is part of a 12-week study on the topic: Being Stewards of God <— (outline). We’re on week 2, discussing the relationship of man to his planet.

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Is Man an Intruder on the Earth?

Stewardship: God – Man – Earth *

We have been teaching that God created man and the earth together, as a symbiotic system, with man as God’s steward to rule the earth.

We are to manage, cultivate, and care for the entire planet and its inhabitants. This is clearly biblical; but it leaves us with a conundrum.

Why is everything so profoundly screwed up down here??

For the person who believes in naturalistic evolution (man and life and all that surrounds us is a product of non-supernaturally-directed forces), the answer cannot be something along the lines of a Fall into sin. But, in fact, for a race that evolved into intelligence and self-awareness, it sure seems odd that we are imposing a destructive dominion over the rest of planet. If you listen to those in the radical environmentalist camp, it’s almost as if humankind is an intruder, a disruptor, an out-of-bounds rebel against the natural order.

You know – kinda like a sinner.

The fact is, our stewardship over the earth is corrupted, because we are corrupt. Our sin is against God, not “mother earth,” but the effects are no different – we mess up our home environment, this planet, big time.

In the book of Romans (chapter 8), the apostle Paul uses the following stark imagery to describe the reality of our broken relationship with all of creation:

The anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

Not only have we broken our relationship with God by disobedience, thereby suffering ongoing corruption throughout our race, but we have subjected the entire earth to our corruption.

In other words, it’s a mess down here. There is alienation – we act like intruders, but it is because of sin. Sin against God is what leads to abuse of His creation.

We didn’t evolve into intelligent jerks. We devolved into intelligent jerks.

However, that’s not the end of the story. Those who are restored to a right relationship with God, through Christ, are to take up the mantle of their stewardship once again and faithfully exercise dominion even in a fallen environment. We do so recognizing that we groan, and the entire planet groans, until such time as God brings forth the full redemption and renewal of His creation.

Many people want to pick and choose what parts of the Bible they’ll believe, but the entire narrative of Creation – Fall – Redemption – Final Redemption is woven tightly into the fabric of the entire biblical account. It is a full worldview. And it helps us understand how we are stewards of the living God, even in the midst of messy corruption; waiting not for a day when man figures out how to save the earth, but being faithful stewards of this beautiful world until the day that God brings salvation to consummation for men AND the earth.

* This brief devotional is part of a 12-week study on the topic: Being Stewards of God <— (outline). We’re on week 2, discussing the relationship of man to his planet.

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Stewardship: Created To Be Stewards *

God created mankind to be stewards on (and over) the earth. What does this mean on a practical level? What are the “verbs” of our stewardship found in Genesis 1 and 2?

Earth– We are to fill the earth

– We are to subdue the earth

– We are to rule over and manage the lesser creatures

– We are to enjoy the earth’s bounty and sustain ourselves with it

– We are to cultivate and keep this earthly garden

– We are to stay within commanded limits

In other words, we were created with work to do, and this earth and its occupants were made with symbiotic interdependence.

We need our environment, the Earth. And the planet needs us.

Our fall into sin (NOT staying within commanded limits) made a hash of our relationships with God, each other, and the entire created order; and the Scripture says that the earth “groans” under corruption brought about by the Fall of humankind.

However – even though we now find ourselves in a fallen world, that does not mean that our core identity as stewards – and the core “verbs” of our duty – have changed.

Do you see those 6 bullet points above? That is God’s charge. That is God’s will for us, even as fallen stewards.

In the news, we’ll constantly see two extremes – those who carelessly ravage the earth, and those who (in essence) worship the earth. Each extreme is a disorder, a rejection of God-given stewardship. We’ll dig deeper into that topic next week.

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* This brief devotional is part of a 12-week study on the topic: Being Stewards of God <— (outline)

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