As we saw last week, creation’s ticket to freedom rides on the back of the liberation of God’s people: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” (v. 19) The resurrection of God’s children will spearhead the arrival of the new heavens and new earth. What God had intended for his world right back ‘in the beginning’ (Genesis 1) will finally come to fruition.
Without in any way denying our responsibility to be good stewards of our environment, Christians are the ultimate greenies. This is because creation eagerly awaits the day of the Lord, when the children of God will be liberated and glorified. One liberation will trigger the other.
It is God’s commitment to the natural world that obligates us to share in that commitment, in the same way that God’s commitment to the resurrection of the body requires us to be good stewards of our bodies. It would badly miss the point if the truth that creation awaits divine liberation causes us to abandon our responsibility to care for creation. God has entrusted to us humans, made in his image, the responsibility to rule and care for this world (Gen 1:28, 2:15). We ought to take care of this earth as people entrusted with a precious gift, and as stewards who will have to give an account to the Creator. Not only that, we must take care of it because we don’t know when our Lord Jesus will return, and our love for others demands that we pass this earth to the next generation in better condition than when we received it.
Yet our framework for ecology must include a biblical understanding that creation is, indeed, subject to futility by its bondage to decay. Human effort will never restore the earth to pristine condition. Its freedom will only come when Jesus returns and the saints are set free.
The focus remains on Christ, and on us being in Christ. Any other approach to ecology moves in the direction of idolatry.