“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants too. Because God is the one who established it on the seas; God set it firmly on the waters.” Psalm 4:1-2
Who owns the world? Well, the short answer is “God.” But there are those who would dispute that. I have heard: “I worked for everything I have, so I own it – it’s mine.” “We have what we have because we have earned it. We own it, and we decide what to give to God.”
In light of the devastating fires in California over this September (of 2015), I wonder how much all that “stuff” really mattered when put side by side with saving lives. Listen, I am as tied to my possessions as many people, and it’s hard to remember that I wouldn’t have it if God hadn’t given human beings the ability to think, create, invent, improve, and sell. Yet, we so often are caught up in our “things” and forget that in essence, God owns it.
That’s where stewardship comes into the picture. God may own it, but God also needs us to care for it and to use it wisely. That goes for the earth, the animals, our possessions, and very importantly, other human beings. Care of creation is God’s calling in our lives.
When I was serving a previous church, the Bible study group called me to accountability about recycling. It wasn’t that I didn’t recycle, I just didn’t do it very well. I think I was rather careless about it. Now, nearly 20 years later, I am far more conscientious about it and maybe even a little over the top! However, I’ve greatly improved my ability to remember to throw the recyclables in their container.
How do we do that with the living creatures, the earth, and humans? When a family in one of my churches unexpectedly had a horse die, we held a burial service, and I used Genesis 1 to talk about caring for God’s creatures. They had done that well, and it was a devastating loss for them.
Having grown up in farm country in the Midwest, I admire those who till the land and respect the food they grow. I see it wherever I have lived. Farmers and tillers of the soil have a passion for their gardening, growing, fertilizing, nurturing, and the care of the fields. They are caring for the earth as well as bringing food to many people’s tables.
Perhaps the human element of stewardship is the hardest because we are called to love God first and foremost and then to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). Loving ourselves is sometimes the hardest part of stewardship, and loving others with care and nurture can also be challenging.
Yet stewardship of the earth includes all of God’s creation, and that includes EVERYTHING! We ultimately don’t own anything, but we do have responsibility for it. May we take our charge seriously and care for God’s creation with love and joy.