Many of you will relate to how I began.
I was a Grace College student 1962-66. For the first two years we had our meals at the Westminster Hotel, eating the culinary catastrophes Ralph Tucker would fix. Not always, but often he had two kinds of food—what went into the garbage disposal and what should go into the garbage disposal.
The Dean of Women said not to give the food funny names, but we did—“Train Wreck “ and worse. When the new dorm and dining commons opened, it was like eating in the Millennium, eschatology aside (I guess that made the hotel food “The Great Tribulation”—no exemption from that).
A health inspector once closed the whole operation down when he opened a food closet door and a thousand fruit flies flew out. One Thanksgiving dinner gave the student body an intestinal disorder which forever labeled that dinner “The Turkey Trot.”
Still, the couple of times I worked washing dishes I had a really hard time flushing edibles down the garbage disposal. I’m not talking about scraps off plates, but whole pieces of pie, etc.
Jesus, a much better food connoisseur than the hotel cook, once fed a whole multitude. In John 6:12 we read a startling statement about what happened after dinner—“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’”
What is this? The one by whom all things were made (John 1:3), the Lord of earth and all its processes, the one who turned water into wine (John 2:7-11), the one who had just blessed and distributed five small loaves and two small fish and miraculously fed the crowd—he is telling his disciples to conserve!
It is sad that the conservation movement is so dominated by earth worshipers, pantheists and the like. Is there not a Christian basis for care? Is there not a basis from which we can work with others, whether they stand on that basis or not?
(I said work with, not worship with)
Besides our Lord’s instruction after that meal (powerful enough!), here are some points to guide us:
- God’s creation is good and ought to be respected as such. Good things should not be haphazardly discarded when some creative legislation and social work, along with some sacrifice of time and effort, could retain them for good use and reuse. The creation should not be unnecessarily defaced or cluttered with what is ugly.
- Only God is infinite. The earth and all it contains is finite. To treat the earth as if its resources are infinite is idolatry.
- The Bible warns us that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15), “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”, and those who are “eager for money” will “pierce themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Therefore, our stewardship of God’s creation cannot simply revolve around how we can exploit it for economic gain. We must also heed its aesthetic value (its appeal as an object of beauty and pleasure), its ecological sensitivity, its potential for ministry to human need and its preservation for future generations.
- God’s Law required that the land lay fallow one year out of seven: “But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest” (Leviticus 25:4-5). In non-legalistic ways this principle of rest must be contrasted with any attempts to exploit earth’s resources to the maximum degree.
- We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. The earth’s resources are for both our own enjoyment and for sharing with those less fortunate. Nehemiah, governor of Judah during the days of the Persian Empire, said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing…” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Perhaps most of all, the psalmist’s prayer rises above all human involvement with the creation with the confession, “The earth is the
Lord’s, and everything in it”(Psalm 24:1).
And the psalmist also said (Psalm 104:24),
“O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.”
Should not our use of God’s creation strive to be wise as well, and to honor its Creator? After all, we are the caretakers of what God has made, and we will someday give account to the Creator. – by Donald Shoemaker, chair-Social Concerns Committee, Charis Fellowship