What Is Creation Care? Part One

John Shepard

3/30/20233 min read

green mountain across body of water
green mountain across body of water

I care deeply about our connection to the earth and to one another. As a Christian, I approach creation care from a particular point of view. I care deeply about our connection to God, the Creator, and the earth. People of all faiths have their own unique understanding. What's interesting is how so many hold similar beliefs when it comes to taking care of the planet and how much we can learn from other perspectives (see below: Creation Care From Other Faith Traditions).

Perhaps the best way to sum up my life's goal and pursuit is what Jesus told his followers in Matthew's gospel. That as Christians, we live and practice our faith by two biblical commands:

* Love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.
* Love our neighbor as one’s self.

These two, Jesus said, sums up all of the Old Testament laws and the words of the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40) These two loves are inseparable — one illustrates the other and is not complete without the other. Loving God and loving one’s neighbor are bound together.

But how we love God and each other can sometimes be challenging. For the Christian, love is more than a feeling, a desire, or a wish. It is always initiated by God and is concrete, and real. I can tangibly receive and give love. (1 John 4:7–8…God is Love.)

Throughout our scriptures, this is how the Christian faith understands love: God offers it in tangible ways from creation that we can see, touch, and feel. Whether it is the rains for moisture or the sun warming the earth, all is from God’s handiwork. The pinnacle experience for the Christian is what God gave of Himself through His Son: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him should not die but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That’s our faith in a sound bite. Through the creation and the self-giving life of Jesus, God initiates and creates. In turn, we respond by placing our trust and belief in what God offers us through Jesus Christ and in creation.

God loves the world

And yet the first five words of this verse have often been overlooked or ignored. God loves THE WORLD, not just humankind but the entire created order (“cosmos” in the original Greek translated “world,” not just human life). My belief in God, centered in Jesus Christ, is dependent on the inherent goodness, precious value, and care for all of creation. We don’t want to hang our care for the earth on one verse, but it does add new light to a passage often misquoted.

Perhaps there is no better place to expand our view of the Creator’s love than to start at the beginning. In our Scriptures, the first book of Genesis chapter one, we are told all of nature belongs to the Creator. Seventeen times in this chapter, God makes, God calls into being the natural world. It is God’s creation! Seven times over, God says, “it is good.” The word for “good” in Hebrew is “tov,” meaning it was fashioned right — it brings joy and delight to the Creator.

Psalm 104:31 tells us the Lord takes joy in what he fashions and puts together. God enjoys this home of ours we call earth, and He delights in it…ALL of it. For me, a good way to capture this is through my own personal definition of creation care. It's a work in progress but, here it is:

Creation Care From Other Faith Traditions

"Creation care is how we express God’s love for this world and for all the relationships giving it life. It is our deep connection with the air, soil, water, and each other. Remove or compromise any of these relationships, and life becomes destructive. Cherish it and take care of these deep connections, and we flourish." John Shepard