By: Rev. Andrés Fernández
A true disciple of Christ cannot give a plate of food to a needy person with one hand and throw trash in the street with the other. We cannot preach the gospel of salvation with our mouths and preach disinterest with our trashcans. The call of Christ is all-encompassing. He wants a church that preaches his love in an integrated way.
The United Nations (UN) established June 5 as World Environment Day. It is a day that helps us reflect on the importance of caring for our planet. For many centuries the church has forgotten the responsibility we have as children of God to not only ensure the spread of the gospel, but also to do it in a holistic way. We must remember the first command God gave to human beings:
“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’”
Genesis 1:28 shares the first command God had for his creation: Fill the earth and care for it. That is how the concept we in the church call “stewardship” began. A correct Christian stewardship will always include care for the planet.
Later, when sin enters the world, humans are not the only ones who see its effects. Rather all of creation suffers the consequences of sin. God made a perfect world in complete harmony, but now it is out of balance because of the presence of sin in humanity.
When Jesus died, the veil of the temple that symbolized the separation between sin and the presence of God tore in half to open the way for the new covenant. Not only that, there was also an earthquake across the world. (Matt. 27:51) That is because the sacrifice of Jesus affected all of creation. In the same way that Jesus opened the doors for us to return to the personal relationship Adam and Eve had with the Lord, he also gave us a new opportunity for creation to return to its original stability. Sadly, we as Christians have forgotten this area that is so important for Christian stewardship. Still, the same command that God gave to the first human beings continues to be valid for the church today through the sacrifice of Jesus: Care for the planet I created for you.
It is time to be the church. It is time to embrace the holistic mission of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is time to be the difference in the world that so needs a church committed to the integrated transformation of the world. There are many ways to be involved in this road to change. For example, churches can begin recycling campaigns, teach our families to reuse items and reduce contamination, sponsor cleanup days in the community, plant trees in deforested areas, preach about integrated creation stewardship, etc. The important thing is to do something. We should make and be the difference.