It’s a fact of modern life that the major issues we face often get hijacked by politics.  Just the mention of refugees, climate change, Aboriginal recognition and the like instantly polarise our minds either to the Left or the Right.  We see these and other issues through the lens of our political persuasion and then act, or don’t act, accordingly.  But this is not the way Christian people should respond.  The lens we are to look through is the life and teachings of Jesus rather than any political ideology.

Let’s take the environment as an example. If I talk about loving and caring for planet earth, I get labelled a greenie – a person who campaigns for the protection of the environment.  For some in the Christian world, being a greenie is seen as a negative thing.  Climate change is viewed as a modern conspiracy and anyone passionate about looking after planet earth is not concentrating on the essential stuff on which Christians should be focusing. I disagree.

In Mark 16, Jesus taught his followers to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  The Greek word for creation is ktisis which refers to the “act or product of creation” [1] in which God made the universe, the Earth and all things (animate and inanimate) out of nothing (Lat. ex nihilo).  Much of modern Christianity has viewed the gospel as a message aimed at saving people from their sins.  As vitally important as this is, the gospel is a far broader and grander message.  Its relevance is for all creation, everything that God made; all of nature and everything he gave people dominion over. [2]

When God gave human beings dominion he gave us the burden of responsibility to look after his creation.  Many years ago, when Christie and I were heading away for a few weeks, some friends asked if they could look after our house while we were gone.  As they didn’t have their own home, we decided to bless them with our home and give them the responsibility of caring for it.  Sadly, they didn’t do a good job.  They invited people around for a party; they left rubbish everywhere and so we didn’t give them another chance to look after our home because they’d not lived up to the responsibility we had entrusted to them.

The same goes for Planet Earth; the home God has given us the charge to look after.  The expression of the gospel for all creation means that our faith in Jesus will motivate us to reduce our footprint on the earth – to lessen harmful emissions, to recycle as much rubbish as possible, to conserve precious resources, to look after the wonders of nature and to protect endangered species. On that last point, it was recently revealed that Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate in the world.  “At least 30 native mammals have become extinct since European settlement — 14 in just the past 50 years” [3] – animals God created that no longer exist.

I understand that caring for the environment makes some Christians nervous because they’re concerned they may become guilty of worshipping and serving created things rather than the Creator. [4] Others have a theology that teaches one day God will make a new Earth so why should we bother to look after this one?  While I certainly embrace the hope of new heavens and a new earth, it’s faulty logic that leads to an uncaring attitude towards the current creation. If you have an old car but hope to buy a new one in the future, you wouldn’t trash the old one now because it’s the only one you have.  You need to look after it and make it last as long as possible.  It’s the same with our care for the planet.

All people on Earth have a God-given responsibility to care for it, maintain it and repair it.  It’s not about being a greenie; it’s about loving God and his creation and allowing our passion for the gospel to influence every part of our lives.


[1] Strong’s concordance

[2] (Genesis 1:26, 28)

[3] Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife boss Ian Darbyshire

[4] Romans 1:25


One of the major problems I see in the world today is the politicising of the issues that face us.  Even Christian people get caught in this trap.  Let me give you four examples:

  • Climate change
  • Asylum seekers
  • Conservation
  • Racial and gender equality

When you read those words, it’s quite likely that you perceived them through your political worldview.  For example, when you see the words, “climate change,” some of you went “right,” and others leaned “left” in your thinking.  If you tend “right” politically you may see other issues as much more important than climate change – or maybe you think it’s a big con and not a real issue at all.  If you are more left or “green” politically, you will see climate change as a major issue and maybe even “the great moral challenge of our generation” to quote former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

It’s the same with other issues.  On asylum seekers, some will go “right” while others will lean “left” and so on.  But for followers of Jesus a higher ethos comes into play because “our citizenship is in heaven” and, on earth, we are ambassadors of Christ who are to represent our eternal homeland in the here and now.  That’s why Jesus encouraged His followers (in The Lord’s Prayer) to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10).  The focus of the entire Lord’s Prayer is what happens on earth.  Jesus taught His people to pray for God’s kingdom to come and for His will to be done, on earth.  God cares for His creation and He wants His people to care for it too.

The aforementioned is the filter Jesus’ followers are to use when considering their response and actions to life’s big issues.  Rather than making our reaction a political one, we are called to think with a heavenly mindset.  Take climate change as an example.  Instead of making this a political issue that leans to the right or left, why not make it a Biblical issue that reflects our care of God’s creation?  Let me ask you a question, “Do you think it is a worthy goal for humans to pump less pollution into the atmosphere?”  Whatever your political persuasion I’m sure you answered “yes”.  If God has given humanity dominion (rule; control) of the Earth (Genesis 1:28) then surely a Christian would take that responsibility seriously and do all they can to care for the planet God has given us?

Conservation then, is no longer the domain of the Greens but rather the responsibility of everyone.  The ethical use and protection of valuable resources, such as trees, minerals, wildlife and water, protecting their sources, and recycling, is something I do because I take God’s gift seriously, not because I vote for a particular political party.

Some of my early teaching as a Christian was dominated by a certain view of the “end times” that taught Jesus was returning at any moment, the world would end, and God would make a new one – so it wasn’t worth looking after this one.  Imagine if we used this logic in our daily lives?  One day I’m going to buy a new car and so I might as well trash the second-hand one I currently drive!  I have an old house now, but one day I want a new one, so I think I’ll light a fire on the kitchen floor and cook on it!  That sounds ridiculous – and it is – but this is how some Christians act toward the Earth of which God has given us care.

Praying “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” means that Christians will pray and work for peace and justice among all peoples and nations.  We strive for economic justice and equality between rich and poor, male and female; racial equality for people of marginalised communities; and protection for refugees and asylum seekers (and yes, I want secure borders, but that doesn’t give us the right to mistreat some of the world’s most vulnerable people).

These are not merely political issues that don’t affect my faith and me.  They are significant matters that should concern all of us who pray for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus taught his followers to live this way day-to-day.  In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16).  Jesus’ people are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  Treating this world, and the people in it, with kindness, justice, love, mercy, and goodness reflects God’s nature and becomes a powerful force that attracts others to Him.  That’s the way He calls His people to live.

In the news this week there’s been the ongoing debate about Earth’s limited resources and particularly how much oil is left.  Some say that we only have 20 to 30 years before oil runs out.  Others say we still have 75% of the oil reserves still untouched.

Whoever is right one thing is for sure – we live on a finite planet with finite resources that will one day be used up.  Of course some resources can be recycled, but others cannot. So once they’re gone – they’re gone!  The question then must be raised: Can people survive on this planet once key resources have been exhausted?

Two eminent scientists have recently stated their belief that the human race is likely to become extinct at its own hand in the next 100 years, as it drains resources through a population explosion and uncontrolled consumption.  Ninety-five year-old Australian Microbiologist Frank Fenner, who helped eradicate Smallpox says, “It’s an irreversible situation.  I think it’s too late.”

Britain’s astronomer-royal and president of the Royal Society, Martin Rees, questions whether humans are smart enough to use what they have learned to save themselves.  He warns that the promise of extended life spans through medicine, and prosperity through economic growth, could easily lead to oblivion by using up Earth’s resources and changing the planet’s climate.

It’s gloomy news – basically we’re all doomed.  That’s the best message our humanistic society can ultimately offer.  In the light of this we shouldn’t be surprised at the increase in popularity of political parties like the Australian Greens with a strong message of conservation and care for planet earth.  And this part of the Greens’ message is not at odds with the Christian faith.  In fact God’s first instruction to the first humans was “to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15) – “it” being planet earth.

Ultimately though, if there is no God, we are all doomed no matter how hard we conserve, recycle and reduce emissions.  That’s why the Christian message continues to shine bright – and will shine even brighter in the darker days ahead.  We are not the result of some random accident.  We are not the product of a monkey that got lucky.  We are not all doomed.  We are on this planet because of a divine creator who loves us, cares for us and has our best interests at heart.
God made this planet finite for a reason – because he never intended us to live on it forever.  There will come a time when the prophetic words of the apostle Peter will come to pass:

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:10-13).

Looking forward – what great words they are.  How wonderful it is to “look forward” to something.  Looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of those who have been made righteous by God’s free gift of forgiveness through the finished work of Jesus Christ.  We’re all doomed?  I don’t think so!

“I care for the environment – as long as it doesn’t cost me anything.”  That seems to just about sum up what many Aussies currently feel about environmental care. 

According to Market researcher Australia Scan, Australians are becoming increasingly disinterested in the environment.  This is for a number of reasons including the seemingly endless debate over emissions trading, and the impact of the Black Saturday bushfires that resulted largely from a failure to systematically back burn large areas of bush land – because trees are more important than people!

There is another reason though.  You see it’s easy to sit back in our nice comfortable lounges in front of our big screen TVs and wax eloquent on how much we care for the environment.  But we love our way of life and we don’t want it to change so, when the rubber hits the road, we want change as long as it doesn’t affect us.

This was born out recently when it was suggested that we could all pay a $50 annual garbage tax that would go towards more effective handling of recyclable rubbish.  A Herald Sun poll asked the question, “Would you be happy to pay a $50 garbage tax?”  The poll result: 8.9% YES and 91.1% NO.  Why?  Simply we’re not happy to put our money where our mouth is.

We want to seem like we care.  We want to seem like we’re doing something, but please don’t let it cost us, please don’t let it impact on the way we live our lives – at least for not more than one hour.

That’s what many people did again recently with Earth Hour, in which they turned off lights and other power-gobbling machines for 60 minutes.  Funny that this was done the night before the Grand Prix.  I bet the environment was fuming!  It’s all about seeming rather than doing.  We’re happy to do for one hour what we’re not prepared to do for the remaing 8,759 hours in the year.

God’s job to us

And yet care for the environment was amongst God’s first jobs for the human race: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).  Now of course there’s always the danger of worshipping the creation rather than the creator, and I’m also aware that at some point in the future God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth, but neither of these things are reasons to do nothing now to care for the first earth.

How to make a difference

So, what are some of the things we can practically do to make a difference to the environment?  Try these …

  • When your hot water service quits on you, consider purchasing a solar hot water system.
  • Purchase a nice looking water bottle and refill it with filtered water, rather than purchasing bottled water.
  • In summer use a fan as much as possible instead of air conditioning. Fans only use between 20 – 50 watts as opposed to 2000 watts for air conditioners. Or turn down your air-conditioning by 1 degree in winter and up by 1 degree in summer to reduce energy consumption by 15%.
  • Don’t buy cleaning products sold in flammable spray cans. Spray cans emit damaging greenhouse gases in to the atmosphere, and a dangerous cocktail of chemicals into the air.
  • Don’t let your taps run. If you allow the water to run for three minutes while you clean your teeth, wash your face or scrub your hands, approximately 15 litres of water goes down the sink.
  • Find more great ideas on caring for the environment click here

The Bible teaches, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  In other words, if we really believe something then doing will follow our belief.  Do, do you believe that God created the world and asked us to care for it?  Do you believe that people have done great damage to God’s world?  Do you believe that you can do something to make a difference?  If your answer is “yes” then get to work!

Last week Christie and I watched with fascination an excellent program on TV hosted by Jamie Oliver.  I’d heard about this controversial show and some of the feedback that had occurred when it was aired in the UK.  On this program Jamie demonstrated how badly battery hens and chicks are treated in British egg farms.  During one scene he showed how cute fluffy male chicks are deprived of oxygen and literally suffocated to death.  As the camera panned around the audience many were in tears at the senseless horror they witnessed with their own eyes.

During the program the stark truth dawned on many in the studio audience – and I’m sure on many of us watching in our homes:  this mistreatment of hens is going on all the time to provide us with meat and eggs and we weren’t even aware of it!  But now, thanks to Jamie Oliver, we are aware and we can do something about it!  Things are already changing in the UK and I would imagine some hard questions will be asked in Australia too – and rightly so.  Matthew 6:26 reveals that God cares for his creation including the animal kingdom.  Proverbs 12:10 says “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal …”

As I continued to watch Jamie’s presentation I started wondering about what other horrors are allowed to go ahead unhindered even in our “civilized” society simply because people are unaware of what’s going on.  We are aghast at the treatment of hens, but what about the treatment of innocent babies in the womb who are terminated in their thousands right here in Australia?  What if society were similarly exposed to a program that demonstrated how cruel an abortion really is?  Of course it will never happen – it would simply be too horrific to watch.  But if we speak out for chickens shouldn’t we also speak out for vulnerable babies rather than pass laws that seal their doom?  After all Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?