Do Good

Stewardship of the environment: My worship

by Kenneth Chew // January 7, 2017, 5:08 pm

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MADE FOR WORSHIP

The first time I saw a humpback whale breach, tears flowed uncontrollably. It too, seemed to worship its Creator.
It is not alone.

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad, let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord.” (Psalm 96:11-13)

Imagine for a moment: All things, by virtue of their created natures, bring delight and wonder to God’s heart.

The wind, the waves, the stars; majestic lions and minuscule rotifers; every biological molecule, every mineral; you and me (Zephaniah 3:17).

Raw, unadulterated nature is created beautiful, powerful and good.

Ironically, this goodness comes with fragility an intricate balance of food chains and relationships. Designed to exist interdependently, different members of the ecosystem (including humans, who have dominion) must be responsible stewards of their portion. No surprises for guessing who tipped that balance.

THE FALL

Despite being instructed to work and tend the garden God’s way (Genesis 2:15), we intentionally plundered its riches and left it in tatters. Notice how it was man who sinned – not the entirety of material creation.

Science may point us to the ugly effects of unsustainable consumerism. The Bible, however, points us to the deeper truth of our brokenness, beginning with the heart of Man (Jeremiah 17:9).

Take a look at the world around you – lush, magnificent, plain or degraded. As the wonders of creation compelled Job to repentance and worship of the Creator in his confused grief (Job 42:2-6), we should learn to do likewise, learn to worship God true to His Word.

GOD’S REDEMPTION IS FOR ALL THINGS

“For God so loved the world (cosmos) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Virtually every Christian has memorised John 3:16, but do we really know its far-reaching implications?

Humanity does not make up the cosmos. I wonder how we made this powerful verse completely about ourselves.

Looks like a strong environmental ethic isn’t the antithesis, but the natural expression of biblical values.

This is echoed in Colossians 1:15-23. Paul speaks of all things being made from and for Jesus. As the firstborn from the dead, all things hold together in Him. He reconciles all things to Himself by His blood, and this gospel has been proclaimed to every creature.

Redeemed spirits ought to bring God’s light back into the darkness of the world – both physically and spiritually. We are called to be salt of the Earth (Matthew 5:13), and again, Earth is so much bigger than humanity.

EVERY BELIEVER’S RESPONSIBILITY

Pope Francis recently made headlines in 2015 with his comments proclaiming ecological conservation as every believer’s responsibility.

“The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she ‘groans in travail’ (Romans 8:22),” he wrote.

He sees the Holy Trinity as a model, not just for human relationships, but also the connectedness of all creation. This was tarnished by human sin.

This is my Father’s world, and we are part of it. Time to be a good steward.

A restored ecology must stem from a renewed anthropology – a proper understanding of humanity in relation to God and the earth. That begins with our purpose – to worship God.

Ravi Zacharias wrote in The Grand Weaver that the thread of worship combines all of life’s other threads to reveal the tapestry of our God-given destiny. Similarly, I believe worship is that which unites all creation and reveals their purpose: To give glory to God.

WORSHIP LEADERS OF ALL CREATION

As creation groans, sons of God must rise up to leadership (Romans 8:19) as we await our future glory with Christ (Romans 8:20-23) in the New Earth.

Worship weaves in the thread of environmentalism into our greater purpose: To glorify God. As we are called to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), we should learn to protect the environment, not for its’ own sake, but out of love. Let our worship be to see, preserve and restore goodness to that which God ascribes goodness.

Don’t fear. This is no new-age cult. Christian environmentalism is not driven by guilt, or pantheistic mysticism that deifies nature, but the theocentric stewardship and safeguarding of our natural world out of humility, respect, and hope.

“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1)

This is my Father’s world, and we are part of it. It is time we worshipped with not just our song, but by how we live each day of our lives. Time to be a steward. Time to join with all creation and worship in spirit and truth.

About the author

Kenneth Chew

Kenneth is best understood through his impassioned Instagram posts, composed in the deep of night when the tumultuous world finally lies silent. He probably prefers dogs to cats.