His world, our responsibility

July 2021 Magazine

At the time of writing the G7 summit of world leaders is taking place. The chair of the G7 is our own PM Boris Johnson and so Carbis Bay in Cornwall was his choice of venue. Despite the massive amount of preparation and extensive security measures what is happening is highly important as they tackle concerns that require a concerted effort to resolve.

At the top of agenda for many is how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The need and responsibility to help provide vaccines and health provision is crucial. But the next big issue is the environment. Environmental activists continue to draw attention to this urgent issue.

The Bible has a strong theology of stewardship. We are introduced to this principle very early on. Having made the world and made both man and woman in the image of God a declaration follows: ‘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’ (Genesis 1v28). We are to be good stewards of the earth, rather than exploiters who strip out its resources. This idea continues as we read various laws e.g. rest for the land (leaving land fallow), provision for the poor (not harvesting to the borders of a field so that the poor can glean a crop), correct animal husbandry and so on.

The Psalmist reminds us: ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters’ (Psalm 24v1). This line is quoted in the New Testament when Paul applies Jesus’ declaration that all foods are clean (he abolished outward practices of the holiness code but continued to teach the ethics of moral life): ‘Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” ‘(1 Cor 10v26). This combines freedom and responsibility, which is a vital combination.

Stewardship is something to put into practise in our own lives and community. We are also to pray for world leaders to do the same at the global level. The world rightly belongs to God who made everything. He has entrusted us with the task of stewardship: how we use water, energy, minerals, food, medicines, money, technology – these all come under His sovereign rule, as do we. We are answerable to God for how we steward the earth’s resources.

Paul Kingman