Christians and the Environment

English Service on September 20, 2015
messenger: Pastor Jim Allison
Title:"Christians and the Environment"
Scripture: Genesis1:26-31
MP3 オーディオファイル 15.6 MB

Genesis 1:26-31

“Christians and the Environment”

Last month we looked together at God’s teachings about the difficult moral issue of war and peace.  Today let’s turn our attention to another one: the environment, or the natural world around us.  Although the Bible, as God’s word, is ancient, timeless, and unchanging in its message, it is also fresh, timely, and able to speak to our needs, situations, and challenges in 2015.  For one thing, it has quite a lot to say about nature and how we treat it.

We hear more and more in the news recently about climate change and the dramatic impacts it will have on our lives from now on.  That includes difficult choices on, for example, how much money we should pay and require businesses, families, and others to pay to protect nature.  How we choose to interact with nature could be one of the biggest decisions we make in our future, in fact.  Barack Obama recently said after listing terrorism, instability, inequality, and disease, “There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.”

Some people agree with him and others think he is making too much of this problem.  But for Christians, when we face a difficult issue, especially a moral one like this, we first go to God and listen not just to our countries’ leaders but to Him.  To help us do that, I want to take you back to God’s word and see what He has always taught.  Let’s hear what He is saying today, too, through the Bible, that can help us live in harmony with the natural world. 


Let’s take three questions and see how God answers them.  (1) First, what were God’s original plans for humans and the natural world?  


(1A) Inside that is another important question: how does God feel about the environment?  The first chapter of the Bible says that after making the earth (vv. 10,12,18,21,25), God said that it was “good” (tov).  After next making people, He said (v. 31) it was “very good” (tov tov).  In the story of Noah, we read (Gen. 8:1), “But God showed concern for Noah. He also showed concern for all of the wild animals and livestock that were with Noah in the ark. So God sent a wind over the earth. And the waters began to go down.”  We see here God’s care not only for people but all His creation.

Another question inside the one of God’s original plans for us and our world is this (1B): What role does God give people to play in the natural world?  The first big hint is that (Gen. 1:27) “. . . God created man in his own image . . . .”  Then continuing (v. 28b), “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  Next, (vv. 29-30), God gave plants to humans and to animals for us to eat.  (He did not give meat to people from the beginning, not until after sin entered the world.)  Jumping to the next chapter (Gen. 2:15), we read, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”  Last in the creation story (Gen. 2:19-20a), God gave the first human the job of naming the animals.  I think you could say about God’s original plans for our world, He made it, He loves it, and He entrusts it to humans.  We are free to use it to meet our needs, but we are also responsible to manage it well.  All that comes out of the basic truth that the world belongs to God.  We are to care for it well out of respect for Him.  

Let’s go back to the point (Gen. 2:15,27) that God created people in His image.  Part of what being like God means is carrying on His work.  We do that by caring for His creation, as He teaches.  In and outside the Bible stories, people often don’t do that very well.  But some, like 


Noah, do obey God.  In his case, we see him inter-depending with nature.  We read (Gen. 8) about him using a raven, then a dove to check and see if the water is low enough and his family can leave the ark.  In protecting the animals, Noah will be meeting the needs of his own family in the future.  This is a story of God using nature, in cooperation with trusting followers, to protect, guide, and meet the needs of people.  In turn, God uses people to care for His natural world.  In all this, His glory is shown.  Do you see the interaction and inter-dependence?

Looking at our world today, we can clearly see that same interlinking of God, nature, and people.  When the land isn’t healthy, the people aren’t healthy, and God is not OK with that.  Many of the great problems we face today such as energy shortages, natural disasters, and wars began at least in part as environmental problems.  Ending them, also, requires environmental solutions.  And environmental problems are people problems.  There are not only science issues but justice issues as well in these difficulties.  And, even more, there are faith issues.  Jesus told us (Luke 10:27) to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  But I can’t do that if I don’t love His creation.  Christ teaches me to love my neighbor as I love myself.  But when I see how powerfully problems in the environment impact the lives of people, especially poor ones, I notice a big faith problem.  I can’t love my neighbor as myself if I don’t care for His world.  

That leads us to the second question.  (2) How does human sin impact the environment and our relationship with it and its Maker?  In Genesis 3 the man and woman disobeyed God when the snake tricked them.  God said the snake would be punished for all time, forever the enemy of people (v. 14).  The impact of sin is there for us humans, too, and it comes in our relationship with the environment.  In vv. 17-19, God tells Adam that because he listened to his partner’s voice more than His (God’s) and disobeyed, the 


ground would be cursed.  Humans would have to work hard to get food from it.  Life would be hard, and then they would have to die and go back to the ground from which God originally made them.   

So human sin entered the world in connection with the natural environment.  It also impacted the environment in damaging ways.  But the story teaches us not only gloomy things.  There is a word of hope, and it too comes in connection with nature.  In v. 21 God made for the people “animal skins” to wear.  Blood was shed as God showed His continuing love for people by providing for their needs.  There is a hint and sign of the cross.  The environment is used as part of God’s work of redeeming fallen human beings.

Similar themes are repeated as the Bible story continues.  In Genesis 4:12 the ground is cursed as punishment for Cain’s sin.  We’ve already noticed God’s work of saving and protecting in the Noah story, but all that suffering by humans and the other parts of creation was made necessary, the story tells us in chapters 6 and 7, by people’s disobedience to God.  The environment paid the price, along with humans, when we refused to live as God taught us.

These are basic teachings of the Bible, as God’s word.  Yet somehow Christian people often fail to see them or arrange our lives according to them.  One man who has taken seriously God’s call to creation care is Peter Harris.  He is a British man, a Christian minister who in the 1980s began an environmental conservation group called A Rocha.  (It’s the Portuguese term for The Rock.)  The group was begun in Portugal, and now it has spread around Europe, North America, and around the world.  He says that many in the conservation movement point in particular to two dangers to the world’s environment.  The first is companies that damage the environment in doing their business.  In caring too much about making money and not 


enough about doing it in a way that shows responsibility, they are putting the entire earth in serious danger.  

Another threat that a number of conservationists often talk about is evangelical Christian teaching—as they have understood it.  I say “as they have understood it” because it seems there is a lot of misunderstanding of Christian faith at this point.  But in many cases the ones doing the most misunderstanding are Christians.  For example, you may hear people say, “The world is going to hell anyway.  There is just so much evil in the world now that God is going to punish it again like He did in Noah’s day.  It won’t be through a flood this time, but soon Christ is going to return, punish everyone who has rejected His gift of salvation, take His people to heaven, and bring this world to an end.  It’s all in God’s hands.  So there’s no use worrying about keeping the rivers, skies, and so on clean.  We can only tell the message of salvation in Christ and help people get their ticket to heaven punched before the end comes.” 

There are various major problems with these ideas.  For one thing, they say nothing about God’s care for His creation, the natural world, or the call He gave us to care for it.  They also completely fail to take into account how strongly He stands against greed and stands with suffering people, such as the poor.  They ignore God’s call for His people to help those in need.       

Harris says he fears that the Christian church is too often not announcing the true gospel of Christ any longer.  I think he is right.  We have cut out key aspects of it because we are too closely tied to the individualism and materialism that our cultures teach us.  We have allowed them to make us selfish and greedy.  Being Christian means standing against these parts of culture, but Christians in too many cases have been leaders in resisting work to care for creation and build a sustainable 


world.  We are misunderstanding what it means to be followers of Christ.  As a result, we are presenting a false picture to the unbelieving world of what Christian life is.  We need to set our own house in order.  Then our message will have more impact on the world around us.  

To bring our misunderstanding into focus, let’s look again at the poor.  When the environment is damaged, poor people suffer the most.  There is a misunderstanding that protecting the environment hurts the poor.  Putting in place strict conservation laws can make it more difficult for businesses to make money and hire people, especially in the short term.  But in reality, over the long term, not protecting but damaging the environment hurts the poor.  The majority of the poorest people in the majority of the poorest countries continue to depend heavily on natural resources.  When the environment goes, their means of surviving goes.

Another misunderstanding is the idea that you have to get rich first, then help the poor.  That’s what Bill Gates, former head of Microsoft, did.  So if it’s true for him, it must be true for people like us, right?  Again, Christians are to go to God’s word for guidance first.  If you do, I don’t think you will find support for this idea.

But we have to be careful even in the way we read the Bible.  It is very easy for us to let our cultures or sinful human nature lead us to understand God’s word only partly or incorrectly.  For example, in Luke 8 and other places, we read the story of Jesus calming the storm that suddenly comes on Him and His disciples in a boat.  We learn in Sunday School or messages like this one to read the teaching like this: Don’t worry.  Jesus is in your boat with you.  You’ll be OK.  But there is another important teaching here.  Jesus is the Lord of creation.  In other words, everything in this world belongs to God and finds its true meaning and purpose 


in service to Him.  If even the wind and waves obey Him, how can we refuse to do so?  We may miss some valuable teachings if we only approach God’s word trying to get our own needs met, feel better, or do other things we learn from our cultures.   

As another example, at the end of the Noah story in Genesis 9, the translators of the New International Version (NIV) have placed a section title, “God’s Covenant with Noah.”  But as you read the story (v. 17), you see God saying to Noah, “The rainbow is the sign of my covenant. I have made my covenant between me and all life on earth.”  God goes to some length to tell Noah that He is choosing as His own all that were in the ark.  He is renewing His relationship of peace with and commitment to everyone and everything that lives under His leadership.  But when we only care about ourselves, people can read that story and give it a title that cuts out the natural world and includes nothing but God and us.      

Living as people made in the image of God means being caretakers, earth-keepers.  That is fundamental to our identity as Christians.  But even when we either fail to understand that or choose to ignore it, there are non-Christians who do notice it.  It is a scandal that secular conservation organizations have had to point out the need for creation care to God’s people.

So let’s look at our third and last question: (3) What does God now want us to do in connection with the environment?  To put it simply, God tells us to do what He has always taught people to do—show our love for Him by finding ways to take care of His world.  Noah’s story shows this clearly.  The environment played an important role in preserving human life during the flood (wood for the ark, for example).  Likewise, humans were told to play an active role in preserving the environment by providing a safe place for the animals (the ark) and food for them.


Then after the flood, Noah worshipped God in a ceremony that included animal sacrifices.  That’s when God promised him (Gen. 8:22):

As long as the earth lasts, there will always be a time to plant and a time to gather the crops. As long as the earth lasts, there will always be cold and heat. There will always be summer and winter, day and night.    

Here we see nature (animals) playing important role in humans’ spiritual life, Noah’s family’s relationship with God, helping them worship (as sacrifices).  And, again, God renews His covenant with all of creation, not only humans.  He wants us and all creation to live together in a family-type relationship with Himself.

That covenant comes with great blessings.  God tells Noah (Gen. 9:2b), “Every living thing is put under your control. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. I have already given you the green plants for food. Now I am giving you everything.”  (By the way, many Christians read those words and the ones in John 21 about Jesus cooking fish for His disciples and think that God does not teach us we should be vegetarians.  But quite a few Christians feel God leading them to take that lifestyle, not because they have to but because it leads to better health, which God wants, or for other reasons.)  God gives people the role of controlling nature and receiving it as gift from Him to sustain life.

God’s covenant comes with not only blessings but responsibilities, too.  If we break it, we will be held to account.  That is true for us and even for other parts of creation.  God promises (Gen. 9:5b), “I will even hold animals accountable if they kill you.”

With those teachings in mind, we can find some clear guidance again from Peter Harris about how to take care of God’s world more faithfully.  We 


hear a lot of bad news about the environment, but Harris and the A Rocha organization tell us something that can be good news.  About 70% of the world’s biodiversity is found on about 2% of the earth’s surface.  It is often the case in places like Peru, South Africa, Kenya, and India that Christian populations are the major stakeholders in the area.  So Christian people are holding the future of many species in their hands.  The conservation world has recognized this.  In this sense, followers of Christ have special opportunities and special responsibilities in the matter of care for God’s creation.  So we have a particularly good opportunity to make choices that will honor God by caring for His creation, if we will.  There is also for us a special responsibility in the risk that we will cause long-term and permanent damage to God’s creation if we do not care for it well.  

There is a widely-held understanding that people’s beliefs are at the center of how the environment is handled.  Harris says that 90% of conservation work is with people, not just land, water, and sky.  Many leaders in the environmental movement have realized that it is people’s choices and beliefs that hold the key to the future of the environment.

In A Rocha’s case, they work to support and develop these beliefs for example by forming local groups of people willing to do things like community clean-up (carrying away trash) and building communication networks.  For example, they let people know where they can go with questions like “There’s a tree in my neighborhood that looks like it could fall on power lines.  Who could I call to have it cut down before it causes trouble?”

Another leader in the Christian environmental movement is Ben Lowe.  He began a group called Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA).  Their work focuses on (a) gathering people who have a commitment to following Christ’s teachings, (b) influencing leaders of Christian organizations to work to protect the environment, and (c) holding political leaders accountable so that 


they will lead in protecting the natural world.  Their actions are an attempt to show what Christian faith looks like when it is put into action.    

Lowe points out that more people today are forced to leave their homes by environmental problems than by wars.  How do Christians, who say we are motivated by the compassion of Christ, respond to this fact?  Caring for God’s creation is a normal part of Christian life, even though it is often forgotten or ignored.

I hear God calling His people today to work so that the earth can be protected and restored.  But I also sense the call for us to support communities of people in order that they can live in health and peace.  God has a very broad vision.  It is not one that shows care for the environment at the expense of people; neither does it value people’s comfort and convenience while ignoring the environment.  We don’t have to choose between being like (a) businesses that care nothing for the earth but only making money or (b) some radical green groups that care only for the environment and not people.  We reject secular approaches to handling nature, whether greed-driven corporations who don’t mind raping nature or environmental groups who refuse to make a place for God in their basic understanding of nature and its care.  

God continues to call His people to care for His creation out of motivations of love and respect for Him and a will to live in obedience to His teachings.  As Christ-followers, we need to find uniquely Christian responses to the serious challenges that we are seeing around us in the natural environment.  We need to rediscover our identity as people given by God the responsibility to manage the natural world.  We must do it in ways that show our care for Him, and as a result for His creation.  


We can hear God telling us to work for the restoration of the environment and development of economies.  Around the world, God has His people working at the foundations of poverty, seeing the spiritual nature of the problem, the solutions, and the people involved in both.  We cannot separate taking care of the earth and taking care of the poor.  The resurrection of the body tells us that God has not given up on His creation.  In that we find hope.  God wants us to join Him in “bring[ing] all things back to himself” (Col. 1:20).  Let’s respond to His invitation in a prayer by Peter Harris.

Lord, we thank you for the world you have created.  We repent for the ways we have mishandled your gift of creation.  We rejoice in the hope that you will help us change, learn, and grow.  Give us the wisdom and strength we will need to relate to the natural world in responsible ways.  May we do so to your honor and glory, now and always.  In Christ’s name, amen.

Now as we have a time of discussion, I invite you to think together about specific ways that we can practice creation care.  Let’s talk about how we can take care of the natural world and communities of people in our lives as individuals, families, a church, and citizens in Fukuzumi, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, and beyond.


A Rocha. (n.d.). Retrieved September 2, 2015 from

Harris, P. (March 29, 2006). “Peter Harris, Founder of A Rocha.” Wheaton College Chapel. Retrieved August 28, 2015 from http://espace.

Lowe, B. (January 15, 2015). “The Gospel Call to Creation Care.” Wheaton


  College Chapel. Retrieved August 30, 2015 from http://www.whea page=1 

Obama, B. (September 23, 2014). United Nations Climate Change Summit.

Retrieved September 11, 2015 from esident-un-climate-change-summit

Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA). (2015). Retrieved on September 1, 2015 from

創世記 1:26-31






バラク・オバマ米大統領は、テロリズム、不安定性、不平等と病気を挙げた後に、劇的な気候変動の脅威は緊急の課題だと言った。同意する人々がいる一方で、彼自体が問題を悪化させていると。 我々はクリスチャンとして難しい問題に取り組む時、大統領でなく、先ず、聖書から神の教えの言葉を見出します。  




(質問1) 人間と自然界のための神のオリジナル・プランは何でしたか? 






  “神は、ノアと、箱舟の中に彼といっしょにいたすべての獣や、すべての家畜とを心に留めておられた。それで、神が地の上に風を吹き過ぎらせると、水は引き始めた” (創世記8:1)



ヒント(創世記. 1:27) “. . . 神は人をご自身のかたちに創造された. . . .”   (28節), “生めよ。ふえよ。地を満たせ。地に従えよ。海の魚、空の鳥、地をはうすべての生き物を支配せよ。”  

(29-30節) 神は植物と動物を、私たちの食物として与えた。 (神に罪を犯すまでは肉は与えなかったが)  

(創世記. 2:15) “神である主は、人を取り、エデンの園に置き、そこを耕かせ、またそこを守らせた。”  

(創世記. 2:19-20a), 神は人への最初の仕事として獣に名をつけさせた。




ポイント (創世記. 2:15,27) ・神は人をご自身のかたちに創造された。 ・神に似たものとされた一部は、神の仕事を引き継がせるため。  ・主の創造物を守ること。


(創世記. 8) 鳩に水が引いたのを調べさせ、箱舟から地に降りた。獣を世話することで未来の家族の必要を満たした。  神は自然界(弟子たちを信頼)を使って人々を守り、導き、必要を与える。次に、人々に主の自然界を守らせる。全てに主の栄光が示される。

現在でも人と自然と神との結びつきは同様に明らかです。  土地が健康でなければ人も健康でなく、神はそれをよしとはしない。今日我々が抱える大きな問題の多く(例:エネルギー不足、天災、戦争)の少なくとも一部は環境問題に始まった。終わらせるには、環境解決が求められる。 環境問題は人々の問題でもある。


(ルカ 10:27) 心を尽くし、思いを尽くし、力を尽くし、知性を尽くして、あなたの神である主を愛せよ。しかし、主の創造物を愛せなかったら私には出来ない。キリストは私が自分自身を愛する同様、隣人を愛することを教えた。 しかし、環境の問題がどれくらい強く、貧しい人々の命に影響を与えるかについて見るとき、私は深刻な信仰問題に気がつく。 


(質問2) どのように人間の罪は、我々の環境への関わり方や市場に影響を与えるのか?

 (創世記3:14).  罪の影響は、蛇が人の敵となるだけでなく、地ものろわれる。(17-19)人は汗を流して糧を得、死として土に戻る。  




(創世記 4:12 ) カインの罪  神に従わない人間


・基本的な聖書の教え。クリスチャンでさえ、間違えたり、失敗する。男の名はピーター・ハリス。イギリス人。1980年代に環境保全グループ A Rocha開始.  (ポルトガル語で岩)  ポルトガルで始まり、今や欧州、北米、世界各地に拡大。



 2) 環境保護論者がしばしば引き合いに出す、彼らが理解(誤解)している福音派のキリスト教の教え。



この考えにはもっと問題が。 自然界の主の創造物への主の守りとか、主からの我々に託された世話とかを彼らは一切語らず。彼らは貪欲さに立ち向かうことに完全に失敗している。 彼らは困っている人を助けるという主の要求を無視する。      




厳しい保護法を設置することは、企業が金を儲けて、特に短期的には、人々を雇うことをより難しくすることになる。しかし現実は、長期間、保護しないで環境に打撃を与えることは、貧しいものを傷つける。 最貧困の国民の多くは天然資源に依存し続けている。 彼らの生き残る手段は環境と共にある。




(ルカ 8)嵐を静めるイエス

恐れるな。船にはイエスが共におられる。あなたは大丈夫だ。 しかし重要な教えは「イエスは神の創造である」この世界の全ては神に属し、神の目的のために造られている。 風でさえ従うのに。「大丈夫だ。」という言葉のみを選んでしまう。我々の欲求、気分、流行に流され、重要な教えを見失っていないか? 

例)ノアの話の最後 (創世記 9)  “ノアとの神の契約”  

(17節), こうして神はノアに仰せられた。“虹が、わたしと、地上すべての肉なるものとの間に立てた契約のしるしである。” 箱舟の航海の後、関与するすべての人とすべての物との関係を、神は平和な関係と新しくされた。しかし 我々が自身のみに関心を持ち、自然界を取り除いて、神と我々だけを含むタイトルだけを与えられたように、その話を読んでいる。   



(質問3) 神は、現在の我々に環境に関連して何をして欲しいのか? 



・(創世記 8:22): 洪水の後、ノアは、動物の生贄で、神に礼拝。 それは、神が彼に約束した時。


 ・そして、また、人間だけでなく、神は創造の全てで、主の契約を更新。 彼は、我々とすべての創造物が神との家族のように一緒に生きることを望む。

契約は祝福(創世記. 9:2b), “わたしはこれらをあなたがたにゆだねている。生きて動いているものはみな、あなたがたの食物である。緑の草と同じように、すべてのものをあなたがたに与えた”  










世界の生物多様性のおよそ70%は、地球の表面のおよそ2%で見つかる。ペルー、南アフリカ、ケニヤとインドで、キリスト教の住民が地域の一流の投資家である場合の場所がある。 生物の未来はキリスト信徒の手にかかっている。

この意味で、クリスチャンには、神の創造物の世話に関して、特別な機会と特別な責任がある。 それは神を礼拝する選択の機会。 逆に世話しなければ、大変な損害の責任もある。 






ベン・ロウ: キリスト教の環境運動のもう一人のリーダー  



(c)政治指導者が自然界を保護する際にリードする責任があるとみなす。  彼らは、行動によって、キリスト信仰が何のように見えるかについて示す試み。 

より多くの人々が今日、戦争によるのでなく環境問題によって彼らの家を出ることを強制されると指摘。  どのように、クリスチャンは、キリストの同情によって、この事実に応えるか? たとえそれがしばしば忘れられるか、無視されるとしても、神の創造の世話をすることがクリスチャン人生の一部ではないか。


神には、非常に広い展望がある。  環境を大切にしながら人々はどうでもいい、あるいは逆に人々の快適さや便利さを重視しながら環境を無視するような偏った展望ではありません。


(a) 金を儲けるばかりを考える企業のようになるか






我々は、神が環境の回復と経済の発達のために働くように言っているのを聞くことができる。  神は、貧困の基礎で働いていて、問題、解決、そして直面している人々の精神的、霊的な性質を認識している働き手を世界中に派遣している。






主よ、我々は、あなたが創造した世界に対して感謝します。 我々は、あなたの創造の贈り物を誤った方法で処置したことを懺悔します。 あなたの助けによって我々が変えられるよう希望して、我々は喜んで、学んで、成長します。 我々が責任ある方法で自然界に関われますように知恵と強さをください。あなたの名誉と栄光を、今、そして、いつまでも表すことができますように。キリストの名前によって、アーメン。