Hiking up a forested mountain trail. Sitting quietly in a boat in the middle of a lake. Watching the sun set in a shroud of beautiful color. Do scenes like these make you want to worship the Creator or the creation? Scripture tells us that God is the one who has made the universe and everything in it (Genesis 1:1). The beauty of nature brings honor and glory to Him and is intended to direct our attention and worship to our Creator (Psalm 19:1–6). Sadly, many people have this backwards, honoring and giving reverence to the creation, worshipping it rather than the Creator. God's Word describes this as “[exchanging] the truth of God for the lie” (Romans 1:25).
Part of this worship of nature involves caring for it at all costs. Much of the environmental movement today focuses on humans as parasites and plagues upon the beautiful earth. In this view, humans are some of the last creatures to evolve after millions of years of other life forms dominating the globe, and in the short time we've been around, we've destroyed what "Nature" created. These environmentalists seek to protect earth from humans, regardless of the cost to mankind. Fearful of being associated with worshipping the earth and depreciating the value of mankind, many Christians shy away from anything environmentally friendly. But what should be our proper response to caring for the earth?
A Proper View of Nature
As Christians we must reject the view that nature should be worshipped and elevated above the well-being of mankind. We alone are made in God's image (Genesis 1:27), giving us a special value that the rest of creation will never have. Worshipping nature is idolatry, which can have no place in the life of a follower of Christ (Exodus 20:3; 1 John 5:21).
But this doesn't mean that we should view nature as created simply and solely to serve our needs and wants. This view is also a form of idolatry that glorifies and exalts mankind while devaluing the rest of God's creation. Looking to God's Word, as always, we get a firm starting point for addressing this often emotional issue.