Stewardship. That word usually makes us think about finances, giving and using what we have been blessed with to help those in need. But what about stewardship of God's creation? In all honesty, this is something I haven't given much thought to in my life. Sure, I went through a hippie phase in high school where it was cool to be all about the environment. But other than a killer pair of Birkenstocks, not much else came from that stint into the purple haze of hippie-dom. I didn't connect the dots of being a good steward of our rich blessings and taking care of God's creation. That's all changing the more I read about what is going on in the Gulf.
This one in particular struck a nerve:
"It's been five weeks since an oil rig exploded and sank, rupturing a pipeline 5,000 feet beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Some clues about what so much oil - perhaps 22 million gallons of it - will do to the environment (let me insert "God's creation" here) have become obvious:
Dolphins have washed up dead. Endangered sea turtles have been found with oil stuck on their corneas. Lifeless brown pelicans, classified as endangered until recently, have been carried away in plastic bags. Beaches in Grand Isle, Louisiana, are spattered with gobs of sticky crude. And when the moon rises over the coast there, the oil-soaked ocean sparkles like cellophane under a spotlight."
-Excerpt from an article on CNN's webpage
Seriously, dolphins washing up on shore? Moonlight sparkling like cellophane on the oil-soaked ocean? This can not please the God who created all of this. In no way does this glorify His name. God tells us in Genesis 1:28, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Verse 31 says, "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good."
God saw all that He created and was pleased. Our God is creative. This world is His magnum opus, something that He apparently was proud to stand back and admire.
The article quoted above goes on to say, "This is all kind of like falling out a window," referring to the confusion over whether there will be catastrophic effects in the Gulf or if nature will just take care of itself. "We don't know how hard that ground is gonna be until we hit bottom. We don't know if we're going to land in soft shrubs and live - or if we're going to hit a rock."
There is just something plain wrong about all of this. God put us in charge of His creation to "rule over the fish of the sea...and over every living thing." When I was in construction, it was very clear how things worked when I was in charge of something. If all hell broke loose on a job site, the boss man came after me. If he found that there was negligence on my part that led to the disaster, I was out of a job. It just seems to make sense that someday we will have to answer for our negligence in managing God's job site.
What does this look like in practical terms? I don't know, man....turn off a light or something. The folks in charge tell us to ride the bus to work and not use as much toilet paper. But that just reminds me of people doing something just to make themselves FEEL like they're making a difference. Let's inject some Gospel into the conversation. Second Timothy 2:20-21 seems to be pretty applicable:
"Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work."
I really don't want to rip that passage out of context, and I don't think I am. Paul is telling Timothy, "Look, big houses have lots of stuff in them. This stuff can easily become an idol that will trip you up and consume you. Get rid of it so absolutely nothing stands in the way of you presenting yourself as useful for God's service." The main issue should always be serving and glorifying God. The Gospel seems to make it pretty clear, in numerous passages (Luke 14:26-27, 33-35, Matthew 19:16-26, Luke 12:33-34, Luke 16:9-31, Matthew 6:20-21), that the things of this world only get in the way of us serving the Lord.
With 6 billion people on this planet, we are bound to mess things up now and again. I just can't help but wonder if our impact would be drastically reduced if we lived out the Gospel in terms of our consumption and stewardship.
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