Romans 8:18-24 Environmentalism

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it—in the hope 21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. 23 And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the first fruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see,we eagerly wait for it with patience.

Environmentalism

In America many Christians are skeptical about environmentalists.  What kind of person would save a snake or a dolphin over a person?  They believe that God did not create all species as equal.  Squashing a mosquito is regarded as a triumph rather than a murder.  Chopping down trees and drilling for oil are viewed as the rights of the rule of mankind over all creation.  Capitalism thrives on the natural resources harvested as cheaply as possible from the earth.  Capitalism also thrives on self-interest, exploitation and dishonesty.  Apparently, that needn’t be discussed.

The flaw in the thinking of the politically conservative ranks of Evangelicals in North America is that they are anthropocentric.  In this case, they think of the world as though mankind is the pinnacle.  The truth is that God is the pinnacle and mankind must reassess its thinking.  We are stewards of the resources and the riches of the world.  Looked at this way, we might think twice about the way we raise cattle, mine coal, or dispose of our waste.  Do we act as God’s representatives when we create huge land-fills?  The mass of unwanted rubbish in the dump could be lessened a little couldn’t it?  Is fracking the best way to keep extracting resources or is there a better way?

I am not suggesting simple answers.  I am raising complicated questions that Christians have answered simplistically.  Romans 8 teaches that Jesus’ salvation reaches Creation.  That does not just mean one species or one continent.  The salvation of Jesus changes everything from Everest to The Mariana Trench.  We are the agents of that change, as God gets a hold of our lives.  Christians should be leading the way in preserving God’s planet.  Instead we are reviled for having a ‘devil may care’ attitude and communicating a lack of love because we believe we will escape the end of the world in a glorious rapture.  That is so selfish.  It is one of the reasons, and there are many, that young people look at the older generation as hypocrites.  How can we say we love God, but let his world look like a sewer and let his people wallow in pollution?

I would definitely save a man or woman over another creature.  However, I also need to take better care of the planet so the the world sees the magnitude of God’s salvation.

Prayer

I am sorry for the waste which I promote by buying items packaged in unnecessary wrappers and layers of plastic.  I want to take better care of the world.  Let me be more aware today of what that might look like.

Questions

  1. For what does creation await?
  2. To what is creation subjected?
  3. How are life in the Spirit and the environment (creation) connected in Romans 8?
  4. How does your spiritual life make you more green?
  5. In what ways could you promote stewardship of God’s planet?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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