This article is part of a limited series called Be A Man. These articles are taken from a Bible study I conducted for several months. The purpose of these blogs is to examine and discuss what it means to be a man, a husband and a father according to the Bible, and how we are to live that out in our modern world. While the Bible study was originally for men, not all topics are gender specific, meaning that women, wives, and mothers can still learn and be encouraged from these articles.
Back in 2005, I joined a missions team to head over to India and minister to an orphanage. To say I was unprepared for the 500 orphaned boys and their energy would be an understatement. They were always running and screaming, dragging us along to play football (soccer for us North Americans) and dance. Every night, the whole team was exhausted from all the running around.
On top of hanging out with these 500 boys, we were also going out to neighbouring communities and sharing Jesus Christ with people that had never heard His name before. That by itself was an experience. Growing up in Canada, where just about everyone went to church or had heard a sermon at Easter or Christmas, left me totally unprepared for this reality.
But that wasn’t the only striking experience I had. While the adventures I had in India on this missions trip could be their own articles, it was something that happened on a trip to a neighbouring village that struck me as wrong. There was something biblically wrong about what was being practiced by the Christians in India. And it wasn’t until I got back to Canada, that I realized that we were just as guilty of this sin as anyone.
People don’t like to talk about sin anymore. Sin is a word that makes people feel yucky. It makes them feel gross. They don’t want to attach that word to themselves or anything that they may be doing. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are committing sin.
I wouldn’t say that men are the worst sinners, but we are definitely not innocent of sin. We are guilty of a great many sins as a whole gender. Maybe even more when you look at us in the light that God created us in.
Think back to Part 2 (or go read it here if you haven’t.)
God created mankind and told them that they were to rule over the earth. God said that we were to have dominion over everything. We are to act as miniature versions of God on earth. Not that we are to be worshiped or prayed to, but we are given the power and authority as leaders on the Earth. And with that power and authority, we are to act like Jesus did, not to be served, but to serve others.
To sin then would mean that we are not serving others, taking care of those that we are responsible for. To sin would mean that we are being selfish with our power and authority, only thinking of ourselves.
We are all guilty of this. And while I was in India I saw this take shape in a very strange way, and saw it take shape in a way I was blind to when I was at home in Canada.
As I mentioned, the missions team was traveling to a nearby village to share Jesus with people that had never heard His name before. It was a bit of a drive, only 80 kilometers in distance, but because the roads were in such disrepair it took the better part of 4 hours. Knowing that this was going to be the case, we all brought along a bag lunch and other snacks to hold us over on the long trip.
About half way through the trip, we realized that we had accumulated a bit of garbage from our bag lunches and didn’t have a bag to put it in. We looked to our driver and a pastor, who was also our translator, to see if they had a place we could put our garbage. The pastor said that he would take care of it for us. We graciously passed him our garbage, which he proceeded to throw out the window.
The entire team was shocked. Candy wrappers, water bottles and plastic bags were suddenly bouncing down the road, being taken in the fields and trees by the wind. We all reacted the same way instantaneously.
“You can’t do that! That stuff is supposed to go in the garbage.”
The pastor looked confused at our protest.
“Why not? We do it all the time here. India is a dump.”
India is a dump. That was his attitude towards his country, his home. And he wasn’t the only one there that thought this way. We watched countless other people treat the country like their own personal waste basket. It didn’t matter what it was, if you wanted to get rid of it, you would simply toss it into the street. Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims all had this attitude in common. India is a dump. Treat it that way.
The problem is that this attitude flies in the face of one of God’s earliest commandments. This attitude is confronted by the words of Scripture as sinful.
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”” – Genesis 1.28 NIV
In Part 2, I talked about the power and authority that we as men have received, and how we are called to use it. I talked about how we are to serve, as Jesus served, those we have authority over. Whether that is at home, at work or at church, we are called to help and empower those that cannot do it by themselves.
But it would be a mistake if I left it at that. While we are responsible for the people that we have authority over, that is not all that God meant when He commanded Adam to have dominion over the Earth in Genesis.
God’s command included the animals. It included the trees and the grass. It included all life on the planet, in whatever shape of form it takes. While it is vitally important to take care of those we are responsible for, our spouses, our children, our friends and extended family, that isn’t it.
When I came back from India, still shell shocked at how they treated their home, I realized that we were no better. I was no better.
We throw our garbage out our car windows as we are driving down the highways. Its just covered up by snow, so we can’t see the result of our sin. We don’t clean up the gas or oil that spills when we are at the gas station. We leave that for someone else to deal with. We don’t recycle, merely throw everything out. We clear cut forests to open up another gas station or shopping mall, so we can drive there and throw our garbage out the windows. We waste fresh water like it was not a priceless commodity. We abuse our clean air by burning the garbage that we don’t throw onto the highways. We throw chemicals at the ground, for our lawns and our fields, in an effort to gain more than the earth can produce. We created weather phenomena like acid rain from our pollution. We created a global crisis with holes in the ozone and global warming.
And it isn’t just the stuff we do to the planet. We also abuse the creatures that call this place home as well.
Look at the long list of extinct animals that we have made. The dodo bird and the passenger pigeon come immediately to mind. We abused them and drove them into the grave. The number of animals that are endangered is continually growing. There are only a handful of pandas left in the world. The number of rhinoceroses is steadily declining because people are poaching them. More and more of God’s creations are being destroyed for sport or game, for their hides or pellets, or for their meat or tusks. I am not coming down on people killing animals for food, but the abuse, the overkilling of creatures is not right.
These are not the actions or attitudes of a selfless king. These are selfish actions, actions that people take when they only care about themselves. This is not giving of oneself for the good of those that we are responsible for. This is acting with an attitude that says, “I don’t care what happens to you or anyone else. It is all about me.” But truth be told, we are responsible for more than just people. God commands our father Adam, and us as well, to take care of His Earth.
It is really easy to say that we will look after those under us, those that we are responsible for. It is something else entirely to take care of a planet. And not just the planet, but everything on the planet. The animal and the plants are our responsibility as well.
However we may feel about this, this is our job. This is who we are called to be as men. This is who we are called to be as a part of the human race.
We are given power and authority. Now we are to act, we are to serve, to help, to protect, to provide for those under us and the planet we call home. We are called to move from living in sin, in our selfishness to living in holiness, living a life of service.
The question then becomes, what does that look like? Men are called to take care of the planet, how do we do that?
The easiest place to start any change is in yourself first. You need to make a change in your life before you see it spread to your family, your friends and those around you. You need to make a decision that you are going to follow the command that God has given, and responsibly look after the planet.
From there, the sky is the limit as far as ways that you can help the Earth.
Start recycling. Figure out when your community does bottle drives and give your cans and bottles away. Carpool to work if you know people in your area that work with you or work near your workplace. If work isn’t that far away, bike in the summer or walk if you can. Put garbage in the trash can, not the highway. Take a plastic bag with you as you travel so you can dispose of garbage when you get to your destination. Don’t drive your little car or big truck like it is in the Indy 500. You don’t have to punch it at the green light. If you spill gas or oil at the gas station, use the absorbing pads or absorbing dirt stuff that they provide for you. If you cut down a tree, plant one in its place. Find chemical free or less harmful chemical ways of treating your fields or yard.
Give money to WWF (World Wildlife Fund) to support their efforts in keeping endangered animals safe. Adopt a pet from a pound or the humane society. Hunt within the limits of the law. Hunt what animals you legally can, not whatever you want to shoot.
The list could keep on going, the ways of being more ecologically friendly are nearly endless. And you should be doing more now than you actually are.
Why? Because you are called to. You have been commissioned to.
Almighty God called out to mankind and said that it is up to you to take care of the Earth. Just as we have a responsibility to those under our power and authority, we are responsible for what happens on the Earth. That is our job to look after the planet and all the creatures in it.
That is what it means to be a man.
All Scripture references provided by Biblegateway.com
Be sure to check them out if you are looking for a verse, some commentaries to help you understand a passage, or a devotional to keep you in the Written Word every day. Or for those on the go, check out their app, available at the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Fire.
Photo from pexel.com