The environment

Not long ago environmentalists were considered to be a fringe element of the antiestablishment crowd.

But not any more. I doubt it was the purported extinction of the snaildarter or even the prospect of a depleted ozone layer that drew our serious attention to environmental concerns. More likely it was the compelling realization that we are running out of places to dump our garbage.

Caring for the world in which we live is more than a political or economic issue. For the Christian it is a moral issue. Already in the perfect world "the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15). God's order of creation for a sinless world included man's care for the world around him. God made us stewards of our environment.

A world spoiled by sin

God created a perfect environment for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Then Adam and Eve sinned. Remarkably, God held back from cursing them and instead blessed them with the promise of a Savior (Genesis 3:15). But God did curse the ground because of man's sin. God's statement on the environmental impact of Adam's sin was filed with mankind in Genesis 3:17: "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you."

The perfect world of Eden is gone. Since the fall all creation is in "bondage to decay" (Romans 8:21). Our world is devolving, not evolving. "The foundations of the earth ... will all wear out like a garment" (Psalm 102:25,26). Our earth suffers physically for the moral perverseness of mankind. "For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it" (Romans 8:20).

Since Jesus carried the full curse of our sin on himself (Galatians 3:13), believers do not view our devolving environment as a punishment. A world full of weeds, however, is a chastisement. The entropy of the natural world is a trouble which God lovingly allows (Hebrews 12:7). Every day it is God's firm but gentle reminder of the terrible, destructive power of sin.

Still a wonderful world

We may consider our "groaning" (Romans 8:22) world a gentle chastisement because the earth remains a wonderful place in spite of sin's effect on it. Its frustration cannot keep our environment from testifying to the existence of God. "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made" (Romans 1:20). Creation's beauty attests to God's love and wisdom. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Psalm 19:1).