Have you ever strolled down a nature path only to stumble upon a pile of trash? Well, today marks the 52nd Earth Day and the 150th Arbor Day is next week. People across the globe will be gathering for cleanups, planting trees, and discussing ways to reduce pollution. It might sound like an event Christians should participate in as God created us to be good stewards of his creation in Genesis 1:26. Although, he still owns the earth. We are just his appointed caretakers. Our dominion only extends to using it for appropriate purposes and caring for it in the way God intended. But like everything else in this cursed world, man has twisted a good thing with his own desires.
First, we need to recognize the parallels between how God made everything perfect, but our sin corrupted it, and how Earth Day began as an ethical ideal, but now exists as a secular holiday.
Parallels of History
When the sixth day ended, God claimed his creation to be very good (Genesis 1:31). Both Genesis 2:9 and Genesis 2:16–17 tell us that “God made every tree . . . pleasant to the sight and good for food” and that we “may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.” What was the point of a tree they could not eat if God beheld it as good? This tree could have been food for the animals.1 Ultimately, this tree gave Adam and Eve the choice to either obey or disobey God.
Ultimately, this tree gave Adam and Eve the choice to either obey or disobey God.
Their disobedience caused the ground to become cursed with thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:17–18); no longer could God’s creation be called perfect.
The consequences of man’s sin are evident all around us. Take the example of littering mentioned above, or how it once was permissible to dump toxic waste into local rivers. That’s why in 1970 Senator Gaylord Nelson forced the issue into politics by creating Earth Day.2 At that time, it sparked radical change among 20 million Americans.3 But is it truly radical? Caring for the earth is an idea firmly rooted in God’s Word from which man must borrow to celebrate Earth Day in the first place.
Whenever man steals from the Bible without the appropriate context, he perverts the absolute truth. This secular holiday has taken the focus away from our Creator to celebrate the creation instead. Paul writes in Romans 1:25, “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” Man’s sin has distorted the directive from God in Genesis 1:28 to be good stewards of the earth.
Rather than stewarding what God has given, mankind has turned it into a political agenda. Denis Hayes, Earth Day’s chairman emeritus, declared that the federal government has failed to handle the pandemic and climate change well. He even tried to make the 2020 presidential election day Earth Day as COVID had robbed it from them.4 There is nothing new under the sun in this situation.
Christians should remember that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14–15) and tempts anyone willing to listen to sin. His lies convinced Eve to take the first bite into the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Even now, he uses man’s sinful hearts to sound enticing, but thankfully God made a way for us to fight against the roaring lion.
God’s Not Finished
Mankind’s modern-day observation of Earth Day may not leave as much for Christians to celebrate; however, God has given us another tree to rejoice in. The cross is described as a tree in 1 Peter 2:24, and our Savior died upon it. Like the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God gives us another choice. We can either accept the outworking of a tree, where God’s only begotten Son was sacrificed, for eternal life or reject it for eternal separation. He bore our sins so that we might be able to live in righteousness, because without Christ that is impossible.
Sadly, the main reason people make a big deal about saving “Mother Earth” is due to them believing that this earth is all humanity has, and rejecting what Scripture says about it. God has promised that this world will not last—but not in the ways and not for the reasons that environmentalists prognosticate. He will do this so he can restore his perfect creation without the curse and death. And God’s people will dwell with him forever in a new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1–5).
What can we take away from this day? That it is acceptable to look after the earth, but not to the extent of fretting ceaselessly or worshipping it. Enjoying creation should always take us back to the Creator and his Word.