World Class Stewardship

Hosea could just as well have had our modern society in mind when he wrote: "There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You curse and lie and kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere, with one murder after another. That is why your land is not producing. It is filled with sadness, and all living things are becoming sick and dying. Even the animals, birds, and fish have begun to disappear," (Hosea 4:1–3).

The other day, I came across some facts that reminded me of Hosea's words. Consider these:

Some scientists estimate as many as one half of all animal life will become extinct due to human destruction of ecosystems.1

In 1960, the average U.S. citizen produced 2.9 pounds of trash per day. Today, that number has climbed to 4 to 5 pounds.2

Although the precise area is debated, each day at least 80,000 acres of forest disappear from Earth.3

The creation story does include a command from the Creator for humans to exercise "dominion" and to "subdue the earth," (Genesis 1:26–28). But that authority has too often served as a sweeping rationalization for exploiting natural resources.

"At the heart of modern society, something has gone deeply wrong. We have become far too confident in our own power, and have trusted far too deeply in our dominance over the creation. We have constructed a world view which places human power and glory at the center of the universe. We have become like gods, masters over creation's destiny, and ready to demand any sacrifice for our enjoyment," (Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Ecology and Life, 24).

Self-centered dominion leads to environmental deterioration. The biblical concept of dominion is connected to two important key ideas — covenant and stewardship. The Bible expresses not only God's covenant with humanity, but, also God's covenant with all of nature (see Genesis 9:13–15). Dominion implies the responsibility to serve nature which is essentially a stewardship relationship.

We must never forget the Creator's balancing command of "tending the garden." "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it," (Genesis 2:15). Christians should seek an intended biblical harmony which meets human needs while preserving the creation.

The Bible suggests at the end of time judgment will be announced to "destroy them which destroy the earth," (Revelation 11:18). Apparently God considers our stewardship of the earth very seriously. Christians, of all people, should not be the destroyers. We should treat nature with an overwhelming respect. It's our God-given job.

“We should treat nature with an overwhelming respect. It's our God-given job.”

1 Julia Whitty. "Animal Extinction: the Greatest Threat to Mankind." The Independent Environment. April 2007.

2 Unknown. "Questions." Wiki Answers. March 2010.

3 Rhett A. Butler. "Forces Behind Forest Loss: A World Imperiled." Mongabay.com. March 2010.

April 01, 2010 / Editorial
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Max Torkelsen II, North Pacific Union Conference president