Why Christians Should Celebrate Earth Day
By: Haley Cottey
I spent most of my childhood outside. I collected sticks and rocks and leaves and bugs. I hunted toads in the flowerbed, frogs in the pond, bugs, birds, lizards, snakes, armadillos, racoons, possums, and snipes (don't ask). I climbed trees, made bridges across creeks, braved gross lake water, tried to make pancakes out of acorns, built lean-tos with my grandma and gardened with my grandparents. I learned most animals are better off wild after every frog I captured died. I collected eggs from my grandparent’s chickens, went birding with my grandpa, hunted fossils, and played hours and hours of pretend outside. I was a hippie child. I still am. I take it to heart when God said, "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good," Genesis 1:31. God is proud of his Creation and we should be too. I am glad there is a whole day dedicated to celebrating God’s creation. Even though it is not a Christian holiday, Earth Day should still matter to Christians.
The First Command of God
Now you do not have to be weird like me and like snakes or roll in the mud. But I do believe that Nature is the closest you can get to God besides community with other believers. Nature is HIS creation. Even our own capacity to build and create is a gift from the Lord as part of His creation. These are good things, but we tend to get distracted by our own creations and ambitions and lose sight of God's creation. I believe that we as humans have forgotten the VERY first command we were ever given, which was “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,” Genesis 1:28.
The translation of dominion literally means to govern, to rule. A good government or ruler's responsibility is to help the people THRIVE. A bad government or ruler, therefore, would do the opposite and cause people to stagnate and wither. Having dominion over the Earth and all living things does not mean to destroy it. It does not mean to level forests and jungles in pursuit of buildings and neighborhoods and cities or use coal and oil in excess, harming the air we breathe. There is balance that can be found in human advancement and sustainability. Earth Day began as a way to bring people together and advocate for a healthy and sustainable environment which is something that we, as stewards of the Earth, should want.
Withdraw to the Wilderness
How many times in the Bible do people "withdraw to the wilderness" to meet with God? How often does God call them to the wilderness so he can have intimate conversation with them? Contrast this with how often churches meet outside to worship or encourage its congregation to go into nature to pray. I don't know about you, but the only time I’ve ever had this happen was at youth camp. But even then, nature was not mentioned or at least not the focus, we were just pretty much already in nature because we were at camp. I'm often encouraged in church to go to my closet to pray, which is also Biblical, but I'm rarely encouraged to go outside and pray in nature.
Jesus often withdrew into gardens and the wilderness to be with God (Luke 5:16) and he often preached on the mountain side or by the sea (Matthew 5:1-2, Luke 5:1-11). There is something about the connection we have with the Lord when we are outside. David talks about it constantly in Psalms (Psalms 24:1-2, 33:6-9, 95:3-5 to name a few). He writes with great emotion about the beauty and peace he found in nature and the countless metaphors, encouragement, growth, and communion with God that he found in God’s Creation. Countless other Christian leaders all throughout history find deep connection to God in nature including Martin Luther, Elizabeth Elliot, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and so many more. All of these examples are exactly why Christians should take advantage of Earth Day and celebrate God's gift to us."
God Created the Earth for a Purpose
Studies have proven that spending time outdoors results in improved overall health, fitness, immunity, mental health, clarity, intelligence, decreased stress, etc, the list goes on and on for the benefits of regular time outside. God created the Earth to benefit Humans. We literally need trees and plants in order to breathe. Animals and plants feed us and sustain us physically and spiritually. There is a supernatural connection to nature that most everyone feels. Even nonbelievers feel a peace when in nature, and I don't think that’s a coincidence. I believe it is because they are enjoying and loving something that was created by the same Creator that created them. All living things were created for a purpose and we feel that purpose in our soul.
All of this to say, Earth Day does not have to be a hippie holiday. In fact, I believe the church should embrace this day as well. Of course, there will be extremes as there are with everything. I’m not saying that Christians should worship the earth or never use plastic again, but I do believe we can do better to be good stewards and follow the first command we ever received as humans in God’s image. Nature allows us to Worship our Creator in an even deeper way.
I want to encourage all Christians to take this opportunity to explore their heart and see how they can love God’s creation better. How can we take this responsibility and be better stewards of the nature that was entrusted to us? Because it was entrusted to us. Humans were given dominion over all living things. This is an opportunity for us to step up and be leaders and good stewards of the blessings right outside our front (and back) door. We at ExploreMore love the outdoors and are passionate about caring for this planet and taking people outside to explore more and have adventures and experiences they otherwise may not have. A fun way to join us this Earth Day while everyone is staying home, is simply pick up trash from your yard and neighborhood. Join our virtual cleanup here!
Another way to celebrate Earth Day is to practice getting into the habit of having your daily quiet time outside. Read your Bible on your back porch. Find a local park and pray as you walk through the park. Thank God for the trees, the animals and literally providing everything you need to live.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s celebrate Earth Day the best way we know how! Go outside, enjoy and Explore More of God's Creation!