The Bible was not written to address contemporary ‘environmental issues’. Nonetheless, faithful witness to the God revealed in the Christian Scriptures demands that the church adopt a robust and distinctive ethos of creation care as integral to its mission.
In Scripture, we learn what it is to be truly human; we learn the value of non-human creation; we learn something of God’s purposes for creation; and above all we are confronted with the creator and redeemer God himself. In Christ, God reconciles all things to himself, invites us into his kingdom and calls us to his mission of spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth. Those who become disciples of Jesus are charged to ‘make disciples of all nations’, ‘teaching them to obey’ everything that Jesus commanded (Matt 28:19–20). The ‘obedience that accompanies [our] confession of the gospel of Christ’ (2 Cor 9:13), or what Paul elsewhere calls the ‘obedience that comes from faith’ (Rom 1:5), must therefore include keeping Jesus’ commands to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:30–31; Matt 22:37–39; Luke 10:27; cf James 2:8).
As has become abundantly clear, we cannot love and care for our human neighbours without caring for the environment in which they live—and indeed for the whole earth.
Nor can we love God with all of our being if we do not value what he values, if we do not care for all he has made, the creation that belongs to him.
It is with sadness, then, that we acknowledge that we as a species, and we as God’s people, have not cared well for his creation. We must not ignore such things as the ongoing catastrophe of biodiversity loss, the destruction of the world’s tropical forests, the acidification of the oceans, the degradation and loss of topsoil, the pollution of the atmosphere, the changing of the earth’s climate, and the human suffering that so often attends these ‘environmental crises’. Our century is likely to be defined by how we address—or fail to address—human-caused environmental challenges that are unprecedented in their scope and magnitude. They are unprecedented not because the world has never faced severe human-caused crises before, but because we have never faced them on such a planetary scale.
By any measure, our collective impact on the earth is out of all proportion to anything seen before, and it continues to increase exponentially. History has much to teach us, but sometimes it also leaves us unprepared for the unprecedented, for situations that are genuinely new. Meanwhile, for many in the majority world the degradation and collapse of ecosystems and the effects of an increasingly warm and erratic climate have already begun to threaten survival itself. In times like ours, we need to recapture the hope and joy that lie at the centre of a biblical ethos of creation care, but this is a hope and joy that exists alongside—and even in and through—lament and groaning. The gospel ought to drive us to support and join in the work of caring for God’s creation.
As the worldwide body of Christ, we must seek to reflect, in all we do, God’s intention that creation be liberated from the "ruin that it so often suffers at our hands and come to share in the ‘freedom and glory of the children of God’ (Rom 8:21). A biblical understanding of the world as God’s good creation demands that we use the gifts of science and technology and all the knowledge, wisdom, and ingenuity that God gives us to understand and make sense of the world in which we live.
A biblical vision of creation care also reminds us, however, that our ultimate hope is for a future that is finally given only by the grace of God, a future that does not depend on us and yet towards which we are called to work with all that we have. In the light of such a transformative hope, we are called to persevere no matter what the circumstances, to go on working towards a world that more nearly reflects God’s purposes of peace and justice, a world where we care well for our human and non-human neighbours, and where we allow space for the flourishing of all of life. creation."
("Creation Care and the Gospel: Reconsidering the Mission of the Church, Colin and White, Robert S Bell, Colin Bell, Robert S White)