The earth is not mine to fill up with garbage

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Ghandi once said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

Of course, I’m going to disagree on the very fact that the Lord provides and not simply earth but that’s a tale for another time.  What I do agree with is that we do not have enough to sustain the world’s greediness.

Over the past number of years the Lord has taken me on a bit of a journey and a learning curve when it comes to our earth.  Of course, there are a number of people who would right me off as someone with hippy tendencies and pay no mind but I’d like to argue that it’s so much more than that.

What the Lord has graciously showed to me is that the earth and all that is in it is His and that we are responsible for the way that we treat and mistreat that.  As with all facets of our lives, we are responsible for our actions, and only our actions and so I can no longer hide behind what great things other people are doing and I can no longer actively mistreat that which he has given us to care for.

I love how the NASB says it, “The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.”  Psalm 24:1

Couple this with a few other verses like Genesis 1: 26 which tells us in Hebrew that we shall have radah over the earth, meaning dominion and rule and Psalm 90:12 where we are instructed to live wisely and well and we’re met with, at least how I see it, a pretty large task.

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We are responsible to live wisely and well on this earth and we are to treat this earth in a way that stewards the resources God has blessed us with very, very well.

The more I read about our earth and the ways we treat it the more I realize I haven’t done a great job of this in the past.  It’s one of those areas where I’m particularly thankful for God’s patience with me as I learn that the earth isn’t mine to use up, destroy and fill with piles of garbage, though that’s often how I’ve been living.

Tracey Bianchi, in her book Green Mama, says this, “In the book of Romans, we read that, ‘since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made’ (1:20).    Which means that our majestic mountains and ice blue lakes, our acres of forest and even our dandelions are a display of God’s power.  Who are we to dare to trash that?”

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I know I’d rather not take up that challenge with God.  I’m really not super pumped about standing before God and giving an answer for all the plastic McDonald’s toys that gave 30 seconds of fun and then ended up in the landfill, or about how many chemicals I leached into the very earth that shows his glory, thus ruining portions of it.  I have to answer for all the food that got chucked because we didn’t get to eating it all and the clothes that I bought for insanely cheap that were only worn once and then fell apart.  All of these things end up filing our earth with garbage and to some degree destroying the beauty and majesty that God has given us in his creation, our very way of seeing Him, in part.

Besides that, we now live in a society that feels like we deserve so much more than what we actually require for life.  It’s amazing how little food can actually sustain us and we can in fact, thrive on, but we eat on.  We like things new and crisp so we chuck the slightly old for new trends.  We want the portability of having our water with us everywhere so we buy up those plastic bottles and then toss ’em aside.  We certainly need the latest version of every gadget meaning that every adult in america tosses a phone aside each year or two.  And what happens to all of these things?  Well, there tossed into a corner of the earth called the dump.  A place less reminiscent of God’s glory and more of our grossness.

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But, of course, God doesn’t need us to save the planet.  I love Tracey’s take on this, too.

“The weight of saving the world does not rely solely upon you.  God can save the planet himself.  Actually, he already has, which is tough for me to swallow because I like to think God needs me.  Ultimately, God is interested in your heart and movement toward wise living and responsible stewardship, not how many gallons of water you saved this month.  He created this  world and then invited us to partner with him in caring for it.  He wants us involved in the process just like I want my children involved in the projects I design for them.”

It’s so wonderful to know that God doesn’t need me.  If he did need me, in all my littleness, it would be hard to perceive him as God, to be honest.  But he does want us to live in this world using our hearts and our minds and all of the resources he’s given to us.  It’s when we ignore those that we end up where we find ourselves today.  Ignorance is not at all bliss when it comes to this world and I think it’s time we become more informed for the sakes of our children and our grandchildren and their grandchildren.

I struggle to think of the world they will live in should we keep using up all of the resources here on earth and filling it to the brink with garbage.  I struggle to think what I might say to them when they look back and see the way us, their ancestors, prepared this place that they now live in.  From what I see, it may be to our shame.

It’s easy to disconnect from this, as christians, because we can look through the bible and not see Jesus tell us to be more green or to reduce, reuse and recycle.  But it really does come down to how we steward all things and what we call being responsible with what God has given to us.  I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not always wise and sometimes I don’t even care.  Convenience and comfort are two pulls that have a great affect on my life and as with most things, this isn’t good!

I’ll leave you with one more quote from Green Mama because I just love how she breaks the responsibility we have with our earth down to that of sin.  Simply put, we are stealing.  But I’ll use her words because they’re just so good.

“He [her pastor] defined steal as simply taking more than your share of the resources.  Stealing is not limited to Grand Theft Auto.  There are a limited number of resources in this world, and when we take more than we need, simply put, we are stealing from others.  We can do this in a variety of ways – financially, socially and environmentally.  By pillaging the earth for more than our share, we break the eighth commandment.  We steal from our children.  We steal from their children.  And if the planet makes it that far, we steal from their children too.”

Jesus may not have mentioned a carbon footprint or bought detergent with the word GREEN smacked across it but we do know that stealing was not something he got behind.

For so many more resources and thoughts and simple ways to start a journey of honouring God through the way we steward the earth I would encourage you to pick up Tracey’s book, Green Mama:  The guilt-free guide to helping you and your kids save the planet.

She has great and simple starting points that leave you feeling like you can begin instead of feeling overwhelmed.  I was so incredibly thankful for her words in my journey and rather than rewriting everything she has to say here, just grab a copy, or even better – borrow mine!  I’m happy to share!

**because I get this may feel like a plug for the book I’d just like to point out that I am in no way being compensated for this post, I just really really love the book and it has encouraged me so much in my journey of recognizing that the earth is the Lord’s!

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