By Alexander Mason
There is increasing pressure on Christians to embrace worldly causes like environmentalism. Some susceptible believers have even renamed the cause “creation care” in order to make the idea more church-friendly. Joining the environmental movement is also seen by many Christians as necessary to gain credibility among unbelievers and therefore afford more opportunities to preach the Gospel. However, such efforts come dangerously close to what the Apostle Paul called worshiping the created things over the Creator (Rom. 1:25).
Paul became all things to all men in order that some might be saved (I Cor. 9:22b), but he never did so outside of the limits placed on him by Scripture. While there is a danger in undervaluing the work of creation, there is a greater danger in overvaluing what God has created (Rom. 1:25). Without a doubt, secular environmentalists worship creation while rejecting the Creator. This constitutes idolatry, which Christians must avoid, regardless of the intended result.
Environmentalists often claim catastrophic events in nature like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and tsunamis are caused by humans. In one sense, they are correct. All human suffering is a consequence of human sin, both individually and collectively all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Through Adam, sin was ushered into the world. Because of his sin and ours, God cursed His creation, and much of its former glory is gone.
Evangelicals who embrace environmentalism seem to believe humans can reverse, or at least limit, the effects of God’s curse on the earth. But it is not our job to reconcile creation to God. We cannot restore Eden. Creation is groaning under the bondage of sin (Rom. 8:22) and it is looking and longing for redemption by Jesus Christ, not us. It is eagerly awaiting the day when He will deliver creation from the burden brought by Adam’s fall and our sin (Rom. 8:19). An implicit truth in this passage is that we, as part of creation, cannot save creation from God’s curse. This is a special work of Christ, who exists outside of His creation (Col. 1:16-17). It is He who makes all things new.
“Creation care” distracts the Church from its one, true mission. Satan delights in all endeavors that are deviations from Christ’s preeminent message of God’s righteousness, our sin, and His redemption. Every Christian’s primary duty should be to glorify God by repudiating sin and proclaiming Christ’s sacrificial atonement on the cross. The Great Commission remains the same: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
Regardless of the temperature of the earth or the level of the seas, we know God is sovereign over the dryness of desolate wastelands (Job 38:25-26) and the boundaries of the waters (Job 38:8-11). As Creator, He upholds our existence by a mere word of His power. The most inconvenient truth that Christians must proclaim is the consequence of sin in the lives of men, along with the only hope of redemption through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus did not come to reduce our carbon footprint. He came to pay the price for our redemption so we may glorify Him. Under the righteous wrath of a holy God, Jesus offered His blood as payment for our guilt, if we will only turn from our sin and follow Him. His message to us is not to recycle, but rather to repent and believe. Our message to others should be no different.
It is not a little ironic that this year Earth Day falls on Good Friday, the day reserved by Christians to remember the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ as payment for our sin. Such a coincidence appropriately highlights the stark contrast between a worship of creation and the worship of the One through whom all things were created.
Using Good Friday to focus attention on creation undermines the critical message of man’s sin and Christ’s atonement that we should be proclaiming on this day. The secular observance known as Earth Day usurps Christ’s role of reconciling creation. More importantly, it distract Christians from their most important duty, which is to carry out the Great Commission on His behalf.
Choose this day what or Whom you will serve: the creation or Creator.
First published as Earth Day/Good Friday 2011: Worship the Creator – Not His Creation by Family Policy Network on April 22, 2011.