Rich Wilkerson, Sr.: On Earth Day, remember that taking care of God’s creation is not a political issue

I live in an incredibly beautiful part of the country. Miami has sweeping ocean views on one side and access to the Everglades on the other. I have lived in the Midwest, the Northwest, Texas, and California, where the landscapes, climate, and wildlife are all unique and amazing in different ways. I have traveled around the world and seen mountains, plains, deserts, and glaciers. There is no way I can look at the absolute majesty of this earth and not think about my great God who created it all.

We must protect what God has given us to care for. If we are acting in His name, then we must act responsibly, with great love and care. We may have lost access to that wonderful Garden of Eden for now, but each of us is still responsible for honoring God’s creation through our stewardship.

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The environment, climate change, and sustainability have all become political buzzwords. Politicians argue about how we can produce the material goods we have become accustomed to while reducing the negative impact producing those items has on the earth. The problem is that they make little progress. You see, taking care of God’s creation is not a political issue. It is a biblical and spiritual issue each of us should be taking to heart.

While God has given us authority over creation—the authority of stewards who serve—we don’t actually own the earth. For that matter, we could make a case that we don’t really own anything at all. God owns all of creation, which is a fact found throughout Scripture.

Honoring creation is not just about recycling and not littering. It cannot be relegated to participating in a single project each year. Rather, we must act deliberately to protect our world and leave it healthy and flourishing for the next generation. The only way we can stop the destruction and conserve what we have is if more followers of Jesus take an active role in honoring creation.

We need to be mindful of our consumption and the impact we have on our surroundings.

This is certain: We can no longer ignore the damage being done to our planet. Habitats are disappearing due to deforestation and growing cities. Pollution is dangerous for wildlife and for us.

A large part of the problem is the increased consumption our culture advocates. More and more resources are used to manufacture goods. As those goods are produced, the factories and transportation of the goods contribute to pollution. Once the products are used and consumed, they contribute to the growing waste problem.

The earth and everything on it are examples of God’s kindness. How can anyone look at the soaring mountains, hear the heartshaking crashing of the ocean, or hold a giggling baby and not be in awe of God’s handiwork?

So how do we become effective stewards for God? First, we need to truly understand what our stewardship is protecting. As Jesus taught His disciples to do, take a moment to look at nature. Taken as a whole, the beauty and complexity of our world is awe-inspiring and overwhelming.

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We must take active steps to care for God’s creation. We need to be mindful of our consumption and the impact we have on our surroundings. We must look around us with an eye to the complex system God built. We must begin to care more for those around us, including the animals, the environment, our communities, and our own front yards. Individually, we cannot solve complex issues such as climate change, air pollution, or extinction, but we can make a difference as stewards of creation if we just perform one honorable act at a time.

This article is adapted from I Choose Honor: The Key to Relationships, Faith, and Life (Charisma House, 2019) by Rich Wilkerson Sr.