Commentary
By Stephen Mattson 3-28-2017

As presidential orders and administrative policies continue to scale back environmental protections, it’s important for Christians to realize that this is a vitally important spiritual issue.

Many Christians ignore environmental issues because they don’t view it as an important faith-related concern — but what if environmentalism was essential to evangelism? In many ways, taking care of our environment is a direct form of evangelism, but many Christians have yet to realize — and even reject — this truth.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 NIV)

This verse is often referenced to justify the doctrine of Natural Revelation and is the damning biblical evidence used against non-believers for rejecting God — even if they’ve never directly heard the gospel message. Christians point to this Scripture passage to show that God’s existence is visibly obvious through the beauty of creation — but is it really?

Theologians have often argued that the splendor and wonder of creation — Natural Revelation — is observable proof of God and God’s awe-inspiring power. But what happens when it’s not visible? What are the spiritual ramifications of destroying our world?

The concept of Natural Revelation is often taught from a privileged and Westernized perspective, where scenes of picturesque mountain ranges, pristine lakes and rivers, beautiful wild animals, and lovely plants are used to portray the sheer majesty of God.

For many of us, this is an easy reality to absorb because we love nature and have access to the outdoors, scenic parks, and unpolluted land. But for many around the world, the idea of Natural Revelation is absurd, and often a theological idea that actually argues against the existence of a God.

Because when water is too unsafe to drink, air too toxic to breathe, and the sheer decay of the surrounding environment endangers you and your family — how is God glorified? When the natural physical existence around you is taken away, broken, or heading toward death instead of life, how does this possibly point people to God?

The sad reality is that Natural Revelation — as we interpret it to be — doesn’t really exist for millions of people living in conditions where their environment is being exploited for corporate and political gain.

The sad truth is that Natural Revelation isn’t equally apparent to everyone, which is why creation care and environmentalism is so important. Because if you really believe that the earth reflects God’s glory, by not taking care of it and allowing it to become corrupted — you’re essentially keeping people from experiencing the goodness of God.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)

The Bible says that the skies declare God’s craftsmanship, but what happens when people can’t see the sky due to smog and waste?

Pollution, destruction, and the exploitation of our world isn’t a victimless crime — it’s intentionally hiding God from others, and the act of making our earth less desirable is blinding others to the goodness of God.

If Christians seriously want others to experience God, they should start making the earth a better place — ultimately reflecting the magnificence of God.

Stephen Mattson is a writer who currently resides in the Twin Cities, Minn. You can follow him on Twitter (@mikta) or on Facebook.

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