Should the Church care for the earth? To explore this question, let us consider the overarching framework of salvation history—the story of God’s good creation, damaged by our rebellion, reconciled through Christ.
Relationship status: harmonious
God has always existed as a community of love, with love shared between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As an expression of His love, God created the universe through the Son and for the Son (Col 1:15–17).
God created a wonderful earth. The earth’s ecosystem contains many components, interacting harmoniously.
God created humans to be His representatives who care for the earth as a sacred duty (Gen 2:15). We have been created to live in community, in harmonious relationship with God, with one another, and with the earth.
Discipleship application: embodied celebration
Through the incarnation, the eternal Son embraced His creation by being born as a human. As humans, we too must embrace an embodied spirituality, celebrating the goodness of God’s creation through thanksgiving to Him. In other words, our lives should overflow with thanksgiving to God, thanking Him for His creation.
Practical creation care: thanksgiving for the climate system
God has created a wonderful climate system. This climate system contains many important components, including greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. If the natural greenhouse effect did not exist, the world would be so cold that even Singapore would be buried under a layer of ice.
Relationship status: broken
Humans listened to Satan and rebelled against God, leading to a breakdown of relationships (Gen 3). First, the relationship between humans and God broke down. Second, relationships within humankind broke down, starting with Adam and Eve, expanding to fragmentation between different communities. Third, the relationship between humans and the earth broke down—the ground became cursed, so work became painful.
Discipleship application: spiritual warfare
Jesus Christ came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, bringing God’s reign, undoing Satan’s works, and restoring a broken creation through healing and deliverance. At the cross, evil appeared to win but was ultimately crushed by Christ’s sacrificial love.
Disciples follow Christ, waging spiritual warfare against the demonic forces that harm God’s creation (Eph 6:12). Our struggle is not against other humans, but against idolatrous influences such as consumerism. We do this in the power of the Holy Spirit. And we do this in the way of the cross, overcoming through weakness, suffering and love.
Practical creation care: a prophetic lower carbon lifestyle
Our addiction to consumerism is driving atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide higher and higher, damaging the climate system.
We must prayerfully challenge the idol of consumerism, starting with our own lives. Can the Church be a prophetic voice against exploitation in all its forms? Can we adopt lifestyles that model the way of Christ? One way to do this is by seeking to live a lower carbon lifestyle. There are many ways to reduce our carbon footprint, such as eating less beef, flying less and buying less.
Relationship status: reconciled
Through the cross, Christ accomplished holistic reconciliation, reconciling people to God, to one another and to the earth (Col 1:18–20). Through His resurrection, we receive assurance that the fullness of this reconciliation will become a visible global reality when Christ returns.
Discipleship application: the ministry of reconciliation
We wait eagerly with hope for Christ’s return. When He returns, our physical bodies will be resurrected and redeemed, in the context of a renewed creation liberated “from its bondage to corruption” (Rom 8:18–25).
In the meantime, the Holy Spirit indwells us, transforming us towards Christ-likeness, enabling us to participate in Christ’s ongoing mission of reconciliation. As His people, we are called to the ministry of reconciliation, demonstrating the fullness of Christ’s reconciliatory victory (2 Cor 5:17–21).
We are called to proclaim the gospel, imploring people to be reconciled to God. We are called to demonstrate that the gospel bridges all divides, reconciling those from different cultural, ethnic and social groups into one renewed humanity, revealing “the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph 2:11–3:13). Are we not also called to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for all creation, healing the relationship between humans and the earth, restoring humanity to our God-given role of gardening His earth as an act of worship (Gen 2:15)
Practical creation care: hope-filled holistic mission
Hope-filled creation care complements cross-cultural disciple-making. In East Africa, a Christian organisation supports a marine restoration project, extending God’s blessing to non-Christian fishing villages. In the Middle East, a Christian organisation manages a wetland nature reserve, offering a vision of hope in Christ’s name to a country recovering from civil war. In Singapore, a local church embraces the call to creation care, modelling attractive holistic community to its neighbourhood.
As followers of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father, will we step out joyfully as His agents of hope?
Bell, Colin, and Robert White, eds. Creation Care and the Gospel: Reconsidering the Mission of the Church. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2016.
Ko, Lawrence. From the Desert to the City: Christians in Creation Care. Singapore: Ethos Institute, 2020.
Ong, Melissa, and Prartini Selveindren, eds. God’s Gardeners: Creation Care Stories from Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore: Graceworks, 2020.
Wright, Chris. The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.
Dr Benjamin Grandey worked as a climate scientist. He is currently taking a career break to volunteer, study theology, and parent three young children. He worships at Living Waters Methodist Church.