From a young age, I have had an inclination to care for the environment. From collecting rubbish in the playground during my recess breaks in early primary school, to leading my Green Team in high school and later in university, it’s interesting to see how my convictions around why we need to care for our world have evolved.
When God created man in the Garden of Eden, one of the primary roles given to him was to “work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). From the beginning, we were designed to live in harmony with God, each other and to steward the world around us. Whilst environmental changes have naturally occurred, they are being caused and accelerated more by human activities in recent times. Our natural reliance on the environment for essentials such as food, water and shelter has become unsustainable as we attempt to meet growing societal demands and population numbers. The outcome of this has included increasing air and water pollution, extinction of flora and fauna, deforestation and land degradation to name a few. It is predicted that between 2030 and 2050, the consequences of climate change such as an increased incidence of malaria, diarrhoea, malnutrition and heat stress may contribute to the unnecessary death of an additional 250,000 people globally each year.
What particularly strikes a chord with me is that those least responsible for driving these environmental changes are often most vulnerable to them and least able to mitigate the impacts. It saddens me to think that our exploitation of the environment, particularly in developed countries, has health implications not just on ourselves, but on our global community and on future generations to come. Caring for creation is not just a nicety, it’s a necessity. It is an act of compassion towards our vulnerable neighbours and a display of God’s love in action.
What particularly strikes a chord with me is that those least responsible for driving these environmental changes are often most vulnerable to them and least able to mitigate the impacts.
As I continue to have conversations with others about creation care, I am realising that many people are not choosing to ignore the negative consequences that our environment is facing. Rather, they are unaware of the extent of the problem and of what they can do to counteract them. This individual unawareness is what flows through to the lack of accountability we see within our governments. For example, the mass production of plastic products is continually endorsed, due to the versatility and convenience they offer, despite the unsustainability and long-term consequences of these practices. Thus, in order to encourage action, an important question I ask myself is: how do I best approach conversations and share about the situation with others that does not just stir them but aids them to take ownership of their role as stewards of the land?
Over the past two years, I have tried to increase my understanding of creation care and how it aligns with the Father’s heart. I have delved into articles, books and watched documentaries relating to environmental issues such as plastic pollution, waste mismanagement and global warming. As my eyes have been opened to the state that our world is in, there have been moments where I have felt overwhelmed, disillusioned and powerless.
Whilst in the face of systemic processes, it may appear that our individual choices will barely make any difference, I believe we have a social responsibility to reduce our planetary footprint in any way we can. I admit from personal experience that making small changes to my lifestyle has been challenging. It has required intentionality and I definitely do not always get it right, but my conviction comes from a desire to live in alignment with how I would like to see the world and how God created it to be.
Practical things I have been doing in response to this growing awareness include:
Beyond our personal responsibility to lead by example, there is an urgent need to address local and systemic policies and processes which are negatively impacting the environment. I would like to honour everyone who’s been involved in The Call For All Creation campaign as they’ve exampled what it looks like to step out boldly and pursue a vision of restoration and God’s justice for creation.
Here’s a reminder to you, and myself included, that our voice and actions matter. As it says in Proverbs 31:8-9, we must “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” By intentionally making small changes in our individual and collective decisions, I believe that we will be able to move towards a gradual restoration of our world for the benefit of our global community and generations to come. It’s time for us to stand together, to preserve and steward the gift of creation that God has shared with us.