Seventh-day Adventists are tied to creation and the Creator by their very name. Yet many, caught between liberal and conservative rhetoric, struggle to find a simple, balanced approach to being good stewards of the earth. Here are five practical steps an Adventist can take in harmony with our fundamental beliefs. These don't require lining up with either Al Gore or Rush Limbaugh. They don't show up on most popular "earth-friendly" lists. But, if followed, they will have an impact because they are founded in faith-based counsel.
1. Be reconciled to your Creator.
How is this earth friendly? At the heart of all good earth care is a recognition of and a respect for the Creator. Once we are reconciled to God we begin to participate in the work of reconciliation with other human beings and with all creation.
Choose a first step: Ask God right now to be in charge of every part of your life; confess your sins and thank God for forgiving you and cleansing you; get to know your Creator better every day through Bible study, prayer and surrender of your plans to His word.
2. Eat more unprocessed food.
How is this earth friendly? Processing and packaging contribute greatly to pollution. While recycling is good, wouldn't it be better to slow down the packaging we use so not as much needs to go into the recycling bin? Simple fresh fruit, vegetables, if affordable and available, can help with simplifying the packaging problem. Avoiding meat products simplifies the food chain and environmental impact.
Choose a first step: Eat three pieces of unprocessed fruit today; grow a garden; become familiar with the fresh produce section of your local grocery store; decide to become a vegetarian if you aren't already.
3. Become an expert in some area of nature study.
How is this earth friendly? When we take a careful look at the wonders of God's creation we are more likely to appreciate the God who created it all. At the same time we need to recognize what we see in nature has been impacted by the fall of mankind and a worldwide flood.
Choose a first step: Take a nature walk and list evidences of sin that were probably not present in the perfect world God created in the beginning; earn a Pathfinder Nature Study honor or "Conservation Master" award; get a book on native plants, trees, flowers, birds, etc. and use it during your nature walk.
4. Go on a mission trip.
How is this earth friendly? Seeing poverty and the joy of simplicity on a mission trip to a third world country can help us break the power of consumerism in our lives. It helps us value people more than things or the latest technological gadget. And it can refocus our life purpose when we return home.
Choose a first step: Sign up for a trip and go; give money to help someone else go, particularly a young person; pray for God's work in a specific country every day for thirty days.
5. Thin out your stuff.
How is this earth friendly? The more "stuff" we have and use, the more we contribute to the trash and pollution on planet earth. By learning to live with less we train ourselves to enjoy people and use things rather than use people and enjoy things. The things we have were given us by God to provide for our needs, assist those in need and take the gospel to all the world.
Choose a first step: Give away something of value you aren't using to someone else who can use it now; for each new item of clothing you buy over the next three months give away two items of clothing; walk a mile or two instead of going shopping; reduce trash by going a week without buying anything unless it is essential to life.
Don't fall into the cliche' of being so heavenly-minded you are of no earthly good. Why would God want to trust us with heaven, if we cannot be trusted with the earth? Take a stand, take a step and discover God's call to be a trusted steward of our world.