When “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over it,’” the goal was, to quote Paul in Romans 12:2, “to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
In other words, by tuning in to what God had in mind by making us in his image we would discover just how amazing his creation is, and therefore how amazing he is. And if we’d eaten off the Tree of Life we would’ve had God’s own life and spirit being lived in and through us too. So, where would our planet be now if we’d done that?
Would we be keeping Christmas, for instance? Well, what would be the purpose of it when Jesus didn’t need to be born as a human being to save us? No need for Christmas then. But what about climate change? Well, we wouldn’t need to be chopping down millions of perfectly healthy trees every year at Christmas time, or using up millions more trees for wrapping paper, packaging and Christmas cards. So no worries about the effects of climate change either.
But what we’ve got instead is a world that’s being asked to indulge us. And it does an amazing job too. Because ever since the first recorded celebration of Christmas on December 25, A.D. 336, Christmas has evolved into the season it is today that demands overindulgence. And it’s even state-sanctioned too, despite net zero by 2030. So, with the blessing of the powers that be, secular and religious, let’s eat, drink and be merry and forget the environmental impact of millions of tonnes of Christmas food waste releasing highly toxic methane, or the hundreds of thousands of miles of wrapping paper and billions of Christmas cards, many of which cannot be recycled.
But what a mighty planet God created for us, so that despite all the plastic waste, the unwanted gifts, and the massive carbon footprint transporting all our goodies over great distances, it somehow survives the pollution, the landfills piling up with Christmas debris, and the increasing demand on its treasured resources to indulge us.
How fortunate we are, therefore, that the planet isn’t what we’re depending on to sustain us, because it does have its limits. But above it all is one without limits, “sustaining all things by his powerful word,” Hebrews 1:3.
We can rest assured, then, that in his capable, loving and powerful hands our amazing planet will carry on, wheezing and sighing for now at our foolish and wasteful ways, but knowing there’s a day coming “when he will judge the world with justice,” Acts 17:31, and we get the opportunity again – since we missed it the first time – to discover what God created us and this marvellous planet for.