Hope for our Planet
Hope for our Planet
Apparently it’s the Bible that’s to blame. The book of Genesis teaches that humankind is to exercise dominion over the planet and its resources. Such teaching, it is claimed, is toxic. According to one writer, “all of the destruction and all of the despoliation accomplished by western man for at least these two thousand years”, is to be traced to it. If only we hadn’t got hold of the notion that God gave us lordship over the creation!
But God did us give us lordship. At the very outset of human existence God made us rulers over all he had made. We are perfectly in the right in exercising the authority that we do. Neither God nor the Bible is to blame, however, for the environmental problems with which our world is beset. The guilt of that lies squarely at our own doors. Specifically, it is to be traced to our sinfulness. It is because we are sinners that we mismanage the world so miserably.
Let me back up a little and raise with you a question few would think of asking today. We are all profoundly concerned about our planet. But who would dream of asking the Bible’s opinion on the subject? Yet the Bible has some extraordinarily important things to say about it. And since the Bible is the word of God, we ought to carefully listen.
So what is its contribution to our current environmental debate? For one thing, and we’ve touched on this already, it identifies the root problem. Why the wastefulness? The destruction? The wilful pollution? The disregard for future generations? The cruelty? The hunting of creatures to extinction? The Bible traces it to its root in our sinful human hearts. It is because we are in the grip of sin that our lordship over the earth is so darkened by greed, self-centeredness, and ruthlessness.
But the Bible does more than identify the root problem. It points us to the solution: Jesus, the Son of God. He changes people from the inside out, dealing with the very sin that has brought our world into the state that it is. He breaks its power – setting us against it; implanting a hatred of it – and puts love for God, for our fellow human beings, and for all that God has made in its place.
There is one further contribution that may be mentioned. It has to do with our planet’s future. How much anxiety there is on that subject! Many fear the worst. What kind of world will our children’s children be living in? Will we act in time to pull ourselves back from the brink of destruction?
The Bible takes a long term view. And a supremely optimistic one. “In keeping with God’s promise”, writes the Apostle Peter, “we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness”. The world in its present form is not going to last forever, whatever we may do to preserve it. It will have its final day. But it is also destined to be replaced with a glorious new creation over which the shadow of man’s sin will never fall. We will once again be its lords. But our lordship of it will be unfailingly kind, sensitive, wise, and selfless. God’s new world will be a paradise from the very outset and will stay that way forever. Yes, forever.
First things first, however. Repentance. Getting right with the Creator through Jesus his Son. Coming into the experience of God’s transforming grace. Many who are very concerned about this earth will have no place on God’s new earth because their broken relationship with the Creator never gets fixed. Let me appeal to you not to let that happen to you.