Do Christians celebrate Earth Day?
April 22 is Earth Day!
Air New Zealand created a safety video that evokes a Maori myth, effectively bringing a storybook to life with poetic prose and stunning scenery. It features Tiaki, a guardian of the land, and a flying waka (Maori word for canoe). Tourists are asked to join Tiaki's quest to protect Aotearoa (the Maori word for New Zealand). Viewers are asked to imitate Tiaki and act as a guardian of our people, places, and culture, by practicing sustainable tourism.
In the Christian religion, men and women are instructed in Genesis 1 to act as guardians or stewards of the fish, the birds, the animals and all of the earth. God has entrusted us as regents to manage what is in our hands. Many Christians today call this 'Creation care' and it is biblical.
However, Christians have often put a low priority on managing the earth, partly from believing the earth is doomed and the priority is to save souls. In the early 1800s, John Nelson Darby popularized the idea of premillennialism, where there is tribulation, then the return of Christ, and then a millennium of peace. Evangelist DL Moody said, "I look upon this world as a sinking ship, and the Lord has given me a lifeboat and told me: 'Moody, save all you can'." In the early 1900s, the premillennial view of the end times was published in the Scofield Reference Bible, which was widely distributed to English-speaking Christians. Christians began to question the priority of protecting God's earth.
These ideas were debated in the 1800s, with the postmillennial doctrine that Christ returns to establish the Kingdom on earth after a millennium and that Christians can build the Kingdom here and now by their actions. Postmillennialists may be involved in "the social gospel" and be involved in lobbying governments to move towards godliness, human rights, and justice for all. Wesley and Methodists have traditionally held this view.
The early church and the Roman Catholic church has an amillennial view that Christ's heavenly rule is spiritual in nature and began at his death and resurrection. When Christ returns, there will be a final judgement and a permanent "new heaven and new Earth."
Whether you join Tiaki as a guardian of the earth or obey Genesis as a steward of God's earth, you can come together with others to take care of our planet.