Thursday, April 23, 2009

Our role on earth: guests, renters, stewards?

Writing about Earth Day reminded me of a blog post I read awhile back on Just Kat Stuff about Natural Responsibility. Kat was saying she thinks of us as guests here on earth. We should take what we need from the planet without trashing the place - be the best houseguests we can be. I thought it was a good metaphor.

Then the Hubs and I went out to lunch with some friends, somehow the subject came up, and I brought up what I read. They felt like the houseguest picture wasn't totally accurate, like it would leave us treading a little too lightly. No, we shouldn't trash the place. But didn't God give us the task of ruling over the earth? Aren't we free to use the planet's resources - in a responsible way? I could see what they were saying. But when I asked what metaphor they think would be more accurate, they didn't have an answer. (By the way, I'm not trying to put down Kat's post at all - just looking at different viewpoints.)

"The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" So I don't know that we can get all "I OWN this place!" 'Cuz I don't think we do, really. Are we renters with a landlord who's cool if we paint or even do a little remodeling - just don't be destructive?

Then I started thinking about the word steward. Kind of a funny word. Other than people saying you should "be a good steward" of our stuff, natural resources, etc., we don't use that word a lot. In fact, I couldn't really link of another context we would use that word nowadays. When I was a kid, there were stewards and stewardesses on airplanes. (Not sure why they were called that.) But now they're all flight attendants. Which is simpler. As I searched my memory for modern uses of the word, what kept interrupting my thoughts was "the Steward of Gondor" from final movie in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Do you need a recap? The kingdom of Gondor has a steward instead of a king. I didn't read the books (started the first one, didnt' make it through. Sorry.), so I don't really know why. But, I think that had gone on for generations - steward after steward while they wait for The Return of the King (hence the title of the movie). Anyway, the steward can make decisions, build cities, send troops to war, be a really sloppy eater without anyone saying anything, etc. But he's just in power until the king comes back, so he reeeally shouldn't abusing that power.

My question is - do you think we're something like that? OK, not like the guy in the movie, who was definitely a bad steward. Is our role as steward something like that? We're in charge, but we're not the true King, so let's rule in a way he would approve of. If we need to build something - a campfire or a city - let's take only what we need to do it. There's no reason to clear cut whole forests, especially creepy old ones where trees have minds of their own, right? Are you following me still?

How do you think of our relationship to the earth? Are we guests or renters or something else? I'm still mulling this one over, and I'd love to know what you think.


Photos by me.

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, I like the guest analogy, especially considering we know we are just passing through this life.

    The verse you quoted is exactly my reason for wanting to take care of the planet in any small way I can. This is the mighty and amazing work of an AWESOME Creator God! How could I not honor it and tend to it? If someone I love makes something for me, then I am going to take an extra moment to care for it, knowing it was with love that it was created for me.

    I am genuinely puzzled by the hesitance amongst some Christians to accept responsibility for how they care for God's handiwork.


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