Relevant so eloquently explains, creation care and love of neighbor go hand-in-hand.
God created -- and continually creates and sustains -- a world He called "very good" (Genesis 1:31; Colossians 1:15-17). Through the beauty of this natural world, God reveals His character to all of humankind (Romans 1:19,20) and provides the natural resources we need for life. And because we are made in the image of our Creator God, we are called to care for His creation in a manner that reflects His character -- with love, faithfulness, mercy, service, and integrity.
So, as God's people, we decry the violence waged against all of God's creation. We bemoan the ravages of pollution, environmental disasters, waste, consumerism, climate change, species endangerment and habitat destruction upon the earth and its creatures. And we lament not just the damages to the earth itself, but especially their effect on human life.
"It's very clear that the least among us -- the elderly, children, the poor -- are being hurt first by environmental degradation," says Nancy Sleeth, co-founder of Blessed Earth, a Christian nonprofit committed to environmental care. "One extremely important way we can love our global neighbors is by making sure they have access to clean water, clean air and healthy soil in which to grow food."
Tom Rowley, executive director of A Rocha, agrees. In his conservation work in 19 countries he has observed: "People who are dependent upon subsistence farming, forestry and fishing have much less margin for protection. While a drought might hit us in the pocketbook, for them, it's a matter of life or death."
Likewise, the poor in urban slums are poisoned by pollution run-off in their water. Indigenous coastal communities are threatened by rising ocean waters. Those breathing polluted air are suffering from preventable, life-threatening diseases like asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer and more.
"I firmly believe that all Christians need to be pro-life," Sleeth says, "but pro-life means every aspect of life. Having a viable planet for humans and all of God's creatures to thrive on is a first order of business."
"The Earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" (Psalm 24:1). As Christians, we believe this is true -- from the soil under our feet to towering redwoods to every single human life on this planet. And so, as stewards, we strive to protect God's created world through daily choices like recycling, reducing energy consumption and resisting consumerism. We aim to treasure God's creation -- not only for its God-infused beauty, but for its provision for human life.
Creation care, at its core, is far more than "going green." It's learning to "live as agents of shalom to a place that God has put us," Rowley says. "We do that by living the abundant life right where we are," he says, "by reaching out to our neighbors, . . . by getting involved in conservation efforts, by becoming proactive in bringing Christ's reconciliation."