Imagine you grew up in a small town with a large oak tree in the center of town. Many New England towns and villages had a similar landscape due to the early history of their settling and the effort made to grow a town around the natural beauty of God’s pre-existing creative work.
But progress being what it is, many of those same towns and villages abandoned their past and good people decided to cut down and eliminate wonderful trees for human advancement. Others resisted the bringing down of the trees, often outraged that City Council’s would actually vote to chop these wooden giants down. In some cases, as local citizens and elected officials argued their differing points of view, local leadership decided to save the tree in question.
Throughout the last few centuries, people have argued about who’s view of nature prevails. There are those who believe trees for example, are living beings that have the same rights as do human beings. Some men and women have actually written letters to trees (Dear Tree…) and attached them to the bark as an effort towards temporary preservation.
Read Genesis 1.
The first book of the Older Testament provides a view that God expected and empowered Adam and Eve (and their descendants) to care for the creation as part of their God-given responsibilities. Biblical scholarship has yielded clear guidelines for caring for God’s creation.
Calvin B. DeWitt is a professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI), and has written Three Biblical Principles of Environmental Stewardship. They are first, an Earthkeeping Principle: As the Lord keeps and sustains us, so we must keep and sustain our Lord’s creation. Second, Dr. Dewitt presents a Sabbath Principle: We must provide for creation’s sabbath rests. Third, he offers a Fruitfulness Principle: We should enjoy, but must not destroy creation’s fruitfulness.
I like trees. I grew up climbing and enjoying trees in the field behind our home. But I never wrote a letter to one. I generally saw them as beautiful creations of God that show His amazing design and flair. The giant redwoods in California are spectacular in their size and scope. Movies and documentaries have revealed ancient oaks with remarkable branches and thick trunks that dominate the area beneath and around them.
But trees, even the wonderful Ents of The Lord of the Rings, along with other plants and creative efforts of our Lord, are not worthy of our worship. Only God Himself deserves our worship and praise. When Adam and Eve were given the responsibility in Genesis 1:26 to “rule over the all the earth,” it was a clear command from God for them and their offspring to be caretakers of His creation. This includes using natural resources wisely, not destroying animals or plants in wasteful or haphazard ways, and protecting the environment from abuse by others.
Some people struggle with the balance of caring for God’s creation and allowing creation to become their god. That is why Scripture is clear: God alone is sovereign and majestic, and deserves “worth-ship” from the rest of the created order, i.e., human beings and all the rest. We need to be good stewards and caretakers of His creation. But our Lord is alone worthy of our worship. Grow devotionally. Worship and serve the Creator, not His creation.
Love is a verb,
©2016 by Mike Olejarz