Thursday, May 5, 2016

Why Can’t ‘Earth Day’ Be Every Day?

Why just one day to honor God's creation?
A couple of weeks ago many people across the United States celebrated “Earth Day,” a tribute to our planet and its ecological concerns. To date I haven’t heard about anyone celebrating Jupiter Day, and if you happen to find out when Saturn Day is, give me a ring, okay? Someone asked why we don’t observe Pluto Day, but I recalled scientific minds have determined Pluto isn’t really a planet. With it being the most distant orb in our solar system, I guess they’ve figured out Pluto’s too much of an outsider to be included. Besides, don’t they have a day for Pluto at Disney World?

Anyway, back to Earth Day. (We never really left, did we?) It’s wonderful that a special day has been designated to remind us of the importance of respecting our planet and all of its natural wonders. Right now at least, it’s the only planet we’ve got. But why should we mark Earth Day only one day a year? Why can’t we observe it every day?

Some people seem to take the attitude that we own this planet and have a right to do whatever they want, so they proceed to toss trash out their car windows, ignore wise recycling suggestions, and dismiss other environmentally friendly strategies. But are we “owners,” or just guests? Maybe we’re merely stewards given the responsibility of caring for what God created.

I look at it this way: A friend recently bought a condo in the Florida panhandle, and has invited us to stay there some time. If my wife and I take him up on his offer, we won’t trash the condo, strewing garbage all around, tearing up the furniture, throwing food at the walls, or failing to clean up the kitchen and bathroom. In fact, we’ll aim to leave the place as neat and cared for as it was upon arrival – perhaps even better.

In a similar way, we’re not permanent residents on Earth either. The Bible describes us as “aliens and strangers” (1 Peter 2:11), and says we’re to constantly be looking toward our eternal home. As for ownership, Psalm 24:1 declares, The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.”

There are those who contend Christians care nothing about the environment. But if anyone should be concerned about how the Earth is treated, it should be followers of Jesus Christ. First of all, because the opening chapters of Genesis tell us God was the Creator, that the Earth and everything else in the universe weren’t the product of cosmic chaos, time and chance. He had a very clear purpose and plan for all that He made, from plant life and animals to humankind.

But there’s a second, compelling reason why we should use – but not abuse – this planet we inhabit. After creating both male and female in His own image, we’re told, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the ground…. I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food’” (Genesis 1:25-28).

I understand this as God telling mankind, “I’m giving this Earth to you, entrusting it to your care.” Some theologians term this the “cultural mandate,” God’s directive for us to serve as His stewards and managers. He definitely didn’t give us license to trash it and destroy what He repeatedly declared to be “good.”

So how about this: Today, regardless of what the calendar says, or whatever those people who designate “days” have to say, this is Earth Day. And so is tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. Because as the Scriptures tell us, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). God has entrusted this day – and the planet He created – to us. Let’s use and take care of it wisely!

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