Is God Going Green? Thoughts on God’s Providential Care of the Earth
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:16-17
In the 1990’s, American culture became increasingly aware of environmental concerns. Legislation in Washington D.C. passed laws to help regulate vehicle emissions. Chemical companies altered their products in an attempt to lower the release of chemicals that might threaten the ozone layer. Consumer brands trimmed product waste by sizing down containers. Recycling centers became prevalent in local communities. The movement grew into what we now refer to as the “green movement.” People are “going green” in an attempt to do their part to “save the planet.”
But hidden within the crevices of this cultural craze is the underlying message that the survival of planet earth is solely dependent upon the actions of man. It suggests that if we take care of the earth, it will survive, but if we neglect the earth, it will be destroyed. Yet there is something disturbing with this notion. It diminishes the sovereignty of God, and elevates the authority of man. Man does not determine the finality of the earth; God does. This raises a question; how “green” does God want us to go?
In our passage above, Paul expresses the Biblical doctrine known as the providence of God. He says that God is in control of all things. This includes planet earth. He is the Sovereign Creator of the universe. This is echoed further when the author of Hebrews says God’s Son is “the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” Once again, “all things” would include planet earth. Isaiah expressed the providence of God in light of creation in Isaiah 40:12 when he wrote “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales?” The Psalmist pondered the providence of God in Psalm 8:3 when he said, “I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained.” These passages reveal that it is Creator God who preserves planet earth, not created man. Unfortunately, the green movement if not seen in light of God’s providential care, can lead to unhealthy fears and fatalistic thoughts.
These truths about God’s providential care do not erase environmental responsibility. Rather we are to be good stewards the earth. In fact, Christians ought to be the ones on this planet who reflect the greatest care of the earth. But these things must be done within reason. God has not called us to be earth worshippers. He has called us to be worshippers of the God who created the earth.
God is not fretting over the ozone layer and He is not sweating over the polar ice caps. Instead, He has an ultimate final plan for the earth; it will be destroyed by fire. 2 Peter 3:7 says, “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Our planet is reserved for fire, and no amount CFC’s or emissions will thwart God’s plans. Yes, the earth faces destruction, but it will not be from human environmental neglect. It will be from the divine hand of God.
In the light of this future judgment, Christians should be less concerned about the planet being saved and more concerned about people being saved.