Global warming, climate change, environmentalism. These are hot-button terms in today’s world. They are tied to politics, not to God. That’s strange because the first story in the Bible described the basis for the use of these terms. In Genesis 1-2, we read about God’s creation of the heavens and the earth.
After God created mankind in his own image, we read in Genesis 1:28 (NIV): “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.'” In Genesis 2:15, we read that God placed man in the Garden of Eden “to work it and take care of it.”
For a long time, there has been argument about what it means for mankind to subdue the earth (Genesis 1) and to take care of it (Genesis 2). This argument has produced much scholarly writing and discussion. It has resulted in what is commonly called a “cultural mandate” for mankind to — somehow — deal Biblically with the earth.
I’m no scholar, but it seems to me that Genesis 1 and 2 are relatively clear. We are given authority over the earth, which means we are accountable for it. We are told to take care of the earth, which means we are stewards of it. Thus, the environmental concerns of the day should be religious issues.
Genesis isn’t the only source of our accountability and stewardship. Read the Psalms (8 and 104, for example). Read Job 38-39. Though filled with spiritual meaning, Jesus’ parables in Matthew 13 were derived from mankind’s duty to understand and take care of the earth.
Have we surrendered our authority and stewardship for God’s creation to politicians and economically interested parties? In Romans 8:18-25, Paul wrote of the whole creation groaning for liberation from its bondage to decay. Jesus will grant ultimate freedom, but in the meantime, God’s children are accountable stewards.