By Dn Leong Pei De, Victor
As I sat listening to our speaker Mr Lawrence Ko share about Creation Care, I was grateful for champions like him who have devoted their lives to studying, educating and advocating for this cause. More than a cause, this is a call for us to be priests of God’s creation and I was happy to receive an education about it.
The temptation though, was to nod, agree, and continue keeping this Creation Care business at arm’s length because there are more competent, learned and passionate people out there who are spearheading this charge. Furthermore, I found myself thinking, our mission is about disciple-making and therefore we should focus on caring for the human soul, the pinnacle of creation right?
Thankfully Ps Wei En addressed this concern of mine in the pastoral page last week, concluding that we should be bothered because God himself is bothered about Creation. Certainly, we should care for the souls of man and be witnesses of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit just as we were reminded with the conclusion of the study of the book of Acts. However, witnessing for God and discipling others isn’t mutually exclusive from the call to care for the rest of creation. Thus, I found myself being nudged to do more in my part as a steward of creation.
How shall we go about caring?
You would be familiar that man was given rule over the created beings (Gen 1:26) and told to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28). Despite that, it is clear that our creator God did not intend to give man the authority to plunder and destroy the earth, but instead to put this marvellous handiwork to use and care for it.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh explains it this way:
Genesis 2 contains a parallel account of creation, adding detail to certain parts of the narrative of the first chapter. Notice God's expanded instruction: "Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend [dress, KJV] and keep it" (verse 15). This greatly modifies the force of "have dominion" and "subdue it" from Genesis 1:26, 28!
Tend (Hebrew ‘abad) means "to work or serve," and thus referring to the ground or a garden, it can be defined as "to till or cultivate." It possesses the nuance seen in the KJV's choice in its translation: "dress," implying adornment, embellishment and improvement.
Keep (Hebrew shamar) means "to exercise great care over." In the context of Genesis 2:15, it expresses God's wish that mankind, in the person of Adam, "take care of," "guard" or "watch over" the garden. A caretaker maintains and protects his charge so that he can return it to its owner in as good or better condition than when he received it.
This is the stewardship ideal: Man is not a brutish gardener, but a caring guardian. When it comes to care for the world that God has given us, we must take our cue from the Creator.
3 practical ways to care for creation
1. Be less wasteful in the upcoming festive season
There are going to be lots of large meals that we’re privileged to enjoy as Christmas and the new year approaches. A great way to be a steward is simply consume your food. Da bao (pack up) the leftovers, keep them hygienically and make sure you warm them up for the next day(s) meal(s). Food we throw away is harmful to the environment and also a waste of money.
2. Spend time outdoors and Enjoy God’s creation
Take time this week to appreciate the outdoors. Head for a walk, go to a park, enjoy the sea breeze, play some sports. Find ways to enjoy God’s beautiful creation, despite the Singapore heat, and you’ll soon want to do your part to “exercise great care over” it.
Unsure how to pray? Let’s take a leaf from the others who have written about this.
(Source: Bishop Eric Pike, Diocese of Port Elizabeth (South Africa): adapted from various sources including Ray Simpson)
The Earth is the Lord’s
This we know: the earth does not belong to us.
The earth is the Lord’s and so are all its people.
This we know: we did not weave the web of life.
The earth is the Lord’s and so is all that breathes on it.
This we know: we are called to till and work the earth.
The earth is the Lord’s and so are all who work the land.
This we know: that we are called to take care of creation.
The earth is the Lord’s yet we have polluted and abused it.
This we know: that whatever befalls the earth, Befalls the sons and daughters of the earth
This we know: that the earth is the Lord’s. And so we will serve Him in it.
While I am not about to dive headlong into creation care per se, I do think I can be a better steward of the world that our God has given us and take small conscious steps to preserve, and take care of this creation. You can be a part of this too.