“… the land is mine and you reside in the land as foreigners and strangers” (Leviticus25:23)
… but we leave it in a mess. More than that, we damage the complex ecosystems which sustain life on Earth.
God’s words were given to to Moses thousands of years ago as part of a set of egalitarian and ecologically sound laws which ensured that the fragile soil did not become exhausted and, because land ownership was controlled, everyone should have enough to eat. Even then, when the population was very small, people knew that their lifestyle had to be sustainable.
Some of these sustainability rules were dropped thousands of years ago. Others such as leaving fields fallow for a year, were practised in Europe until a few hundred years ago. However as industry and intensive farming developed, the land, the air and the ocean have been progressively damaged.
The COP26 conference to be held in Glasgow later this year will aim to get countries to sign up to targets to reduce the rate at which we are damaging the Earth. But what should we as individuals and as Christians do? There is no doubt that the problems are very complex and it is difficult to know what to do for the best. For example we have stopped using disposable plastic shopping bags and I now have a number of cotton bags. However cotton production is a very inefficient use of water and unsustainable in many areas where it is currently grown.
Maybe we should do nothing and trust God to put things right? That is not what the Bible teaches. It teaches us to act even when we know we cannot solve the problems as individuals. We are told to give to the poor, although Jesus said “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11). Climate change isn’t mentioned – it wasn’t an issue then. We now understand more and need to change what we do. We trust that God has a plan for the Earth but that involves people doing their part and doing their best to maintain his creation.