If we keep nature alive, nature will take care of our life. We ought to have good relationship with nature as from it we get everything. Land gives. Tree gives. Water gives. Air gives. Animal and bird gives. The problem with us-the humans, is that although we get everything from nature for our survival we seldom think or do anything to give back to nature. We must be thankful to God for all these blessings! We are facing the consequences of disobeying the first commandment of God given in the Bible ‘to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it’ (Genesis 1: 28). This ‘fruitfulness’ is not only about human being but equally the wellbeing of all other creation. Our anthropocentric mentality is not only destroying and but also not allowing nature to grow and to produce. God repeats the same commandment of ‘fruitfulness’ was renewed through Noah again (Genesis 9:1) after the flood. To be made in the image of God implies that humans have been created in order to responsibly represent God within creation, and in this sense exercise authority, i.e. to have dominion with concern and love. God commanded dominion within the context of responsibility. So, when God gave dominion (Gen.1:26), it was not a mandate for destruction that is irresponsible domination. Humans (Adam & Eve) were instructed to “till” and “keep” it (Gen 2:15), which portrayed the service of a “servant” or “slave”. The Hebrew word samar means “to keep” which in noun form is “steward” or “trustee” and implies watchful care and protection of the earth. The metaphor of the steward includes the characteristics of love, care, responsibility and service. If we want to experience the fullness of life, we need to reorient our attitude towards nature: from oppressive and exploitative attitude to caring and nurturing one.
God created human beings as part of nature not apart from it. The word humus (land or fertile soil) and human have same etymological word in Latin. Both are derived from soil or earth. This shows that human beings cannot survive when their relationship with land (nature) is broken. The Bible also testifies that we are from the dust/ground. Originally, we come from the dust, the ground. Genesis 2: 7, says: “the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being…”. The beginning of physical body is from earth/ground and will end by returning to the earth. “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19 & Ecclesiastes 3:10). Adam or Adamah means simply dust or ground.
When we compare the earth with our body, they are very similar. Our body is made up of three basic components: bones (the forms the hard part of our body); flesh (that forms the soft part of our body including tendons and skin) and blood (that forms the whole fluid portion of our body). For the earth, rock is like bone in our body. It forms the hard part of its structure. Without stones/rocks the earth would not have proper structure like our body without bones. Modern development is affecting the rock’s structure causing many man-made calamities such as earthquake. Mining and deepwater drilling have disturbed the foundation of earth’s structure. Again, for the earth, soil is like flesh in our body. It helps us to produce things to survive. If we destroy soil, we destroy ourselves. Imagine our body with no muscles. We cannot live healthy life. When we cut down trees, the top fertile soil is washed away by heavy wind and rain. We cannot grow anything. So, we need to take care of the life of soil. For the earth, water is like blood in our body. Water is life. Without water the earth will become dry and lose its capacity of producing life. No human being can survive without blood. There is no life in the desert except sand. Today, water is being poisoned by heavy use of chemical and hence heavily polluted. It is like polluting and poisoning our own blood that makes people sickly and weakly and die. We need to take care of water if we are to live a healthy life and make life possible to continue.
Therefore, rock, soil and water of the earth are like bone, flesh and blood of our body. If we take care of them, nature will flourish. Different types of animals, birds, fish, plants and trees will continue to flourish. Because of destroying them, thousands of animal and bird species have become extinct and we are at risk of losing them many of them. Therefore, both the earth and human beings belong to nature. Both are part and parcel of nature and not separated being from it. This is the reason why we need to take care of nature.
The golden rule for everything is “whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same to them…” (Matt.7:12). The same yardstick is applicable to our relationship with nature: take care of nature in such a way that we want nature to take care of us. We are to set an example (cf. Titus 2:7)for others in everything. This exemplary life must include taking care of nature as good stewards of God knowing that we are not the owners of it (cf. Psalms 24). If we destroy nature, we are destroying our own life. Unfortunately, many Christians think that ‘this world is not my home’ and hence ‘I don’t have any responsibility to take care of nature.’ Many Christians have failed to see that we have many assignments to be completed before we go to heaven. As co-creator with God, loving and caring of nature could be ‘one’ among many important assignments that would qualify us for eternal life. We need to follow the example of Noah who saved the life of human beings, animals and birds in one of the known world’s worst disasters. He must be both an expert economist and an environmentalist. We must think and live judiciously not only for ourselves but also for birds and animals around us and for all generation to come. Time has come for us to define our spiritual life in terms of our harmonious relationship with God, fellow beings and nature. Neglecting one of these aspects may cause tragedy to both physical and spiritual life.
More than ever before, we need to educate our people about the value of maintaining healthy environment by preserving and conserving the locally available resources such as indigenous trees, medicinal herbs, flowers like orchids, birds and animals, and others. God gave us life through nature. We must take care of God’s good creation. We are not the owner of God’s creation but stewards of it (Psalms 24). When we claim to be the owners, we create problem. This earth belongs to God, given to usand for the all generations: past, present and future. Therefore, we need to take care of the earth the only planet that sustains life. We live on the earth and we derive our living from the earth. God created everything in order to sustain us and it is the earth and its resources that maintain humankind and make life possible. We are to protect the earth, properly use its resources and not abuse it. God has created us to take care of earth and not to destroy it.
Jesus praised the beauty of God’s creation. Even the splendour of King Solomon could not be matched with what God has created (cf. Matthew 6). In the Creation story of Genesis (the first book of the Bible), everything that God created was good and in perfect harmony with four rivers flowing in the Garden of Eden and all types of animals, birds, insects, fish, vegetables, trees and so on. However, human beings disobeyed Godresulting to chaos and disorderliness in nature. The Book of Revelation (the last Book of the Bible) envisionsnew heaven and new earth. Let us be a part of this new world by living responsibly with God, fellow beings and nature.
Mission Colony, Pfutsero