TAKING CARE OF EARTH
TAKEING CARE OF YOURSELF
by Karen O'Connor
Not long ago I bought my first new car in twelve years. I wanted
a model that's environmentally friendly and more economical than
one powered exclusively by gasoline, so I selected a hybrid. The
salesman congratulated me, saying, "You're being kind to the
My grandson agreed; he too congratulated me for taking care of
the earth by selecting such a car. His mom reported that this
twelve-year-old is the resident environmentalist in their family.
That made me smile. I love knowing he cares about God's green
earth and is paying attention to how he and others can preserve
and enjoy it.
Purchasing this car got me thinking again about taking care of
natural resources - the water, air, land, forests, fish and
wildlife, topsoil, and minerals God intended for all His
creatures to enjoy. For me, this interest started one weekend
about twenty years ago when my husband, Charles, and I decided to
recycle our magazines, newspapers, cans, bottles, and used
In the midst of clearing a closet and de-cluttering a storage
area, I said to him, "it feels to me as though we're coming down
where we ought to be - to a life of simplicity and stewardship.
We're taking care of business in our corner of the earth."
This business was what God had in mind, I think, when He said to
the first humans: "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the
earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds
of the air and over every living creature that moves on the
ground" (Genesis 1:28).
In this primary text, God establishes the relationship between
Earth and humans as one of stewardship, dominion, and
responsibility to Him, our Creator. We're to look after creation
not as it suits us but as God would care for it. Just as
important, we are examples to unbelievers who look to Christians
as God's caretakers.
Sadly, not everyone has accepted this mandate. Some have used
land, water, animals, plants, and minerals for selfish purposes
without thinking how their actions will affect supplies and
species in the future. In recent years, Christian voices have
risen to defend the earth and remind believers of our
responsibility as stewards.
Keith Miller, professor of geology at Kansas State University,
taught a class at his church, titled Stewardship as a Worldview.
"Fully living a Christian worldview involves a Christian
stewardship of everything in life, including time, opportunities,
relationships, knowledge, money, abilities, resources, and
environment," says Miller.
The Judaeo-Christian tradition teaches this relationship in the
story of Adam and Eve, who were placed in Eden "to work it and
take care of it" (Genesis 2:15).
Our dominion from the Lord over the earth entails these
* to maintain the earth as a place of beauty where features and
foliage are lovely and people are inspired and blessed by
nature's wonder and magnificence (Psalms 104 and 148).
* to learn and apply knowledge for the good of humankind; to use
the earth's water, land, plant and animal species, and minerals
to create opportunities and inventions that add health, beauty,
wonder, and enjoyment to our lives (Genesis 1:26).
* to keep the garden in good condition for the benefit of our
heirs; to pass a better earth to our children than the one we
inherited. As a grandparent, I think about this a lot.
Our experience with stewardship and simplicity led to new
discoveries that influenced our shopping and eating habits and
the use of possessions we already had.
At the end of that weekend we loaded the car with bags for the
recycling center and clothes and kitchen items for the Salvation
Army. We also decided to buy less, share more, and purchase with
thought for the long haul. Today's treasures will be tomorrow's
Taking care of natural resources can be an exercise in freedom as
well. I'm now recycling some of our used water in the garden.
We're eating vegetarian meals a couple of times a week, and we're
walking more places than before. Even the new car stays in the
garage several days a week.
I've talked to people who've started a small garden in their
yard, in a kitchen window, or in pots on a patio. We're using
fewer paper products, thus preserving more trees, and we're
interested in sharing a lawn mower, wheelbarrow, or shovel with
neighbors instead of buying our own. Each small step is a
Being a caretaker for God is not always convenient or easy, but
it is satisfying. It leads to a simpler life and wiser choices.
Do we really need ten pairs of shoes, or two cars with a truck
and an RV, or a television in every room?
Can we enjoy our clothing for several seasons rather than
answering the call of fashion trends? Are we willing to live in a
modest, affordable dwelling that is friendly to the environment,
using recycled wood, solar panels, and low-energy appliances,
rather than a showplace that drains our earnings and our natural
Being a caretaker for God is a spiritual discipline that begins
with a decision. Like Paul, we're learning - slowly at times - to
be content. Distractions and desires no longer rule.
When we're content, we're more likely to make our lives a chain
of prayer, each link a hymn of praise throughout the day as we
notice and appreciate God's gifts and make responsible choices
about how we use them.
"Lord Jesus, thank You for the beautiful sunset."
"Father God, may I fill my soul with the majesty of Your
mountains and meadows instead of fulfilling my every want and
desire at the mall."
"Holy Spirit, please guide me in treating the earth with respect
Being aware of God's gifts and living within the His boundaries
leads to spiritual contentment. "Keep your lives free from the
love of money and be content with what you have, because God has
said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'"
However, if we go to the opposite extreme by renouncing all
possessions as detrimental and denying ourselves the healthy
pleasures of life, then we become legalistic - taking pride
in turning away from earthly things. The Bible is consistent in
its teaching that Earth and its gifts are good and to be enjoyed
(Genesis 1:31; 1 Timothy 6:17b).
Let us thank the Lord for His gifts, take care of them in every
way we can, and pass them on to our children and our children's
children with joy and gratitude.
Karen O'Connor writes from Watsonville, CA. Scripture quotations
are from the New International Version.
TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF
by Nancy Sleeth
WHen people ask me about he first thing they should do to care
for the earth, I give an answer they don't expect: Start
observing the Sabbath. The intent of the Sabbath laws is
restraint. We are not supposed to do it all just because we can.
Sabbath is about taking our hands off the controls one day a week
and letting God be God. Go on walks. Take guiltless naps. Share
meals with family and friends. Cultivate a 24/6 life. If we all
started honoring the Sabbath, we'd save 10 to 14 percent of our
resources. But even more important, the Sabbath creates a space
to get to know our neighbors, spend time in community, and be
still with God.
My second priority for 2010 is to tune out the noise and tune in
to God. A decade ago, most of us could barely find the on ramp to
the Information Highway.
Now our lives are a noisy blur: chat rooms, C-SPAN, satellite TV,
triple-digit cable options, e-mail, instant messaging, cell
phones, text messaging, YouTube, iTunes, Bluetooth, Facebook,
Twitter, RSS feeds. There is a loneliness and desperation that
accompanies such noisy lives, and the temptation of false pride -
an "iGod" mentality. All this noise is unhealthy; it stresses our
bodies, our emotions, and our relationships. Most important, it
takes us away from God. Let's create a space where we can once
again hear the voice of Adonai and cultivate a culture of quiet.
This article originally appeared in Comment magazine, the opinion
journal of CARDUS: www. cordus.ca/comment.
The two above articles were taken from "The Bible Advocate" -
July/August 2010 - a publication of the Church of God, 7th Day;
Denver, CO. USA.