My parents taught their children with parables – not the Biblical variety, but those homespun truths which grab wisdom by the tail. If something needed fixing, we’d hear “A stitch in time saves nine.” My sister was often the recipient of “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face, ” every time she and her friend stopped talking to each other. When we were about to short-change a project we were working on, my mother would remind us, “A job worth doing is worth doing well.” Both parents were especially fond of letting us know not to “Count our chickens before they’re hatched.”
My parents were the first naturalists I knew. They cared about the environment and taught each of us to care also. I learned from them about our interconnected world. In the rural area I grew up in, nature’s lessons were all around us. During the dry years our neighbor’s crops died in the field, and the lake that supported our fishing resort dropped to unhealthy levels. From an early age, I learned how I used or misused the earth mattered. They taught us of the interdependent nature of earth and all of earth’s creatures.
Later I would hear more of the Biblical worldview of earth and God’s concern for the planet we live on. We read “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” in Psalm 24:1 The Genesis account of creation calls upon us to be stewards of the creation. John has this poignant word in his gospel, “For God so loved the World.” John 3:16
I’m puzzled by the political divide over care of our environment which we encounter today. Until recent years, Christians were united in a concern for the earth and its creatures. We worked together for laws that limited pollution and cleaned up our lakes and rivers. I’m not sure when our collective concern changed, or how the environment got mixed into creation theologies, as if one believed God created the heavens and the earth, one couldn’t believe that the earth was in danger.
I don’t know how this happened, but I yearn for that time of yesterday, when words like Global Warming and Climate Change were not political fireballs, but words that pushed us, regardless of political affiliation, into action. I yearn for the time when we so love God with our mind, heart, soul and strength, that we invest ourselves in all the ways we can to make a difference for the generations who follow us. God gave us dominion not to destroy, but to preserve what God calls good.
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” Genesis 1:28 The Message Bible
A version of this post was first published March 13, 2015 as “Childhood Lessons On The Environment”