by Dr. Chris Elisara
Today people around the world celebrate Earth Day. For Christians, however, I consider the last day of Holy Week, that is Resurrection Sunday, to be our “earth day.” Why? Because as Paul tells us in Colossians 1:15-20 the day Christ burst from the tomb alive is the day God’s love, grace, and power broke the power of sin over all creation. All creation includes the earth, but it implies much more than the earth. All creation includes humanity too.
On Resurrection Sunday, then, we celebrate the fullness of Christ’s passion redeeming and reconciling not only humanity, but everything - the earth included - to God! As Paul puts it, in Christ “all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him,” and through Christ “to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
This scripture passage teaches many things about God’s character, and one of them that we cannot overlook is that God’s heart is huge. It is large enough to encompass concern not only for humanity, but also for forests, mountains, rivers, farms, frolicking sea creatures, birds - everything in existence.
Because Christ died for all creation, on Earth Day we can easily expand our hearts to focus with our non-Christian friends on the creation that Christ died for. In fact, I believe one of the gifts we can bring to Earth Day is our larger biblical perspective on the day.
With our non-Christian friends we can share and affirm the gift of creation and seek to restore the integrity of the earth’s ecological systems - systems God designed to sustain life, but are broken and threatened - but we don’t have to stop there.
Since we personally know the Creator and Redeemer of the earth we can introduce our non-Christian friends celebrating Earth Day to Jesus who can reconcile and restore their relationship to the Creator too.
We can also tell our friends about the earth’s ultimate end, and that is a beautiful future where God reigns with His forgiven and redeemed people on a fully restored earth. We can also explain that while the future is in God’s hands, we have the privilege and joy of working with God towards these good ends at the invitation of God Himself!
How is all this possible? Because of Resurrection Day, which is “earth day” for Christians.
In light of the above thoughts let me encourage you to celebrate Earth Day 2015 in several ways. The first is to take practical steps in your own life to care for creation. For those living in North America and other developed nations here’s a link to a resource that may be of help in this regard: A Climate Action Plan.
Second, support and encourage all people, Christians and non-Christians alike, who are seeking to care for creation in their efforts. Regardless of our faith we are all dependent on healthy ecosystems for our physical wellbeing, and we can all use encouragement and support to live out our convictions to care for creation.
Third, consider what you can do beyond individual personal lifestyle choices that may help protect the integrity of our ecosystems - our water, air, soils, forests, farms, climate, biodiversity, etc. Are there larger projects, or organizations, that could use your help to protect or restore creation? Are there good regulations or policies that need your support for passage?
Fourth, go beyond the commonalities we share with our non-Christian friends celebrating Earth Day and tell them about the Christian “earth day,” which is Jesus’ Resurrection Day, and all that entails for life now and in the future.
Dr. Chris Elisara is Chair of WEA’s Creation Care Task Force. Visit worldevangelicals.org/cctf for more information.