We commit ourselves afresh not to flirt with the fallen world and its transient passions, but to love the whole world as God loves it. So we love the world in holy longing for the redemption and renewal of all creation and all cultures in Christ, the ingathering of God's people from all nations to the ends of the earth, and the ending of all destruction, poverty, and enmity. (CTC, 22)
In Psalm 24 we are told that "The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein." It belongs to God and, as such, has intrinsic value - He made it and He owns it and He has given us the responsibility, as tenants, to care for what is rightfully His. Thus we are to be actively involved in environmental issues, and to "repent of our part in the destruction, waste, and pollution of the earth's resources and our collusion in the toxic idolatry of consumerism" (CTC, 19). Christopher Wright, in his article, Mission and God's Earth, (Perspectives: A Reader, 4th Ed., William Carey Library, 2009, 32), writes:
There is no doubt that a major contributor to contemporary environmental damage is global capitalism's insatiable demand for "more". The biblical truth relevant here is that covetousness is idolatry and the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. There is greed for the following:
- Minerals and oil, at any cost,
- Land to graze cattle for meat,
- Exotic animals and birds, to meet obscene human fashions in clothes, toys, ornaments and aphrodisiacs,
- Commercial or tourist exploitation of fragile and irreplaceable habitats, and
- Market domination through practices that produce the goods at least cost to the exploiter and maximum cost to the country and people exploited.
For the Church to get involved in environmental protection, it must be prepared to tackle the forces of greed and economic power, to confront vested interests and political machination, and to recognize that more is at stake than being kind to animals and nice to people.
We are also to love and care for all who dwell on earth as they too belong to God. No people group is beyond the scope of God's concern and therefore ought not to be beyond the scope of our concern. The love of the one who sent His only begotten Son into the world to reconcile it to Himself ought to compel us to make the gospel known to all those who do not yet acknowledge Him the Sovereign Lord. "We confess with shame that there are still very many peoples in the world who have never yet heard the message of God's love in Jesus Christ." (CTC, 21)
God's love for the suffering, the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized is clearly revealed throughout the Scriptures, but never so clearly as in the life of Jesus who had compassion on the powerless and defenseless. As His ambassadors we ought not to be afraid to stand up for the same and to denounce all forms of wickedness and injustice. We must be ready to tackle greed and exploitation. William Wilberforce spoke up for those who had no voice and fought for the liberation of the African slaves. Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke up for those who were being exterminated simply because they were Jews. We need to speak up for those who, in our day, cannot speak for themselves. I think, in particular, of the unborn who are slaughtered by the millions for the sake of expediency.
Yet there is a part of the world we ought not to love, and that is all that is in rebellion against God. "We are commanded not to love that world of sinful desire, greed, and human pride." (CTC, 22) It is to our shame that these "marks of worldliness" often obscure or even obliterate the marks of godliness in the Church.
We are to care for the earth and for all who dwell therein. It belongs to Him and He has placed it in our care. He is reconciling it to Himself through Jesus and has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. We have work to do...let us do it as unto the Lord!