Earth Day is this Monday, April 22. Want a practical way to make an ecological difference on this planet? Let me borrow a page from my 2012 devotional book The Chosen (April 26 reading) and share it here in the Fourth Watch blog:
Paul Hawkens in his “green” book, Blessed Unrest, tells of an old rabbinical teaching that if we hear that the world is ending and the Messiah is coming, we must first plant a tree and then go and determine if the story is true or not. For Seventh-day Adventists, who champion God’s creation memorial and who celebrate the return of the Creator, planting a tree isn’t such a bad idea, is it?
For millennia now our creation has suffered deeply under the effects of our very human rebellion. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God. . . . We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now” (Romans 8:19, 22). Can you imagine the latent longing within the natural world for the promised deliverance? But until then, how shall we live, we Sabbath-keepers of the Creator’s flame?
We could begin by eating green—that’s right, vegetarianism would diminish the number of animals raised and killed for consumption, and thus reduce the one-fifth of earth’s greenhouse gases livestock produce! We can turn off the lights in the rooms we exit. We could inflate our tires and save 2 billion gallons of gas a year, some say. We could shorten our showers by two minutes, saving twelve gallons of water. We could recycle. We could save a few trees by skipping the receipts at ATMs and gas pumps, saving by one estimate 3 billion feet of paper. We could use our own thermos bottles and quit drinking bottled water, since a one liter bottle requires 5 liters of water to cool the plastic, thus resulting in six liters of water for each bottle! Lists of “green” or environmentally friendly ways to live (like these from Ashleigh Burtnett that appeared in the Student Movement here at the university) are all over the web, and you can make your own.
The point? As Creator-worshiping, Sabbath-keeping, nature-preserving friends of Jesus, shouldn’t we be at the forefront of ecological conservation and environmental care and protection? Truth be known, God himself planted a tree once upon a time to save this creation. “To the death of Christ we owe even this earthly life. The bread [our farmland] we eat is the purchase of His broken body. The water [our rivers, streams] we drink is bought by His spilled blood. . . . The cross of Calvary is stamped on every loaf. It is reflected in every water spring” (DA 660). Given the infinite cost of planting that tree, we must join him in saving his creation. Don’t you agree?